Some of my thoughts on the Black Lives Matter controversy are in this story.
I got pulled over.
Around midday, I was driving my ’97 F-150 home from a Mediterranean restaurant down 484. I was in a hurry to get home so I accelerated to make a yellow light that turned red before I went under it. Immediately, I heard the chirp of the siren and saw the lights dancing behind me. I pulled over into a parking lot, and I was not ready for what happened next.
Before the officer came over to the window I had both hands on the wheel and my license in my hand. I am white, and the officer that came up to my window was black.
“Hello.” said the officer.
“Hello, officer.” I said.
“You know why I pulled you over?”
Now, I had been feeling frustrated due to the reason for my visit to the Mediterranean restaurant, and I also have a high respect for law enforcement, so I’ll share with you what I said, and the conversation that followed.
“Yes sir, I do. I know I ran a red light back there, and I am sorry. I can explain the situation if you would be willing to hear it. But even if you’re not willing to listen, I understand what I did was wrong. I broke the law. Would you please be willing to hear me as I share with you what is personally going on?”
“Okay.” The officer said shifting his weight to get comfortable listening to me.
“I love my wife. She wanted some Mediterranean food for lunch, and she only had an hour for us to eat lunch together. I wanted to get her some food she wanted because she’s cooped up doing work training on Zoom because of the Pandemic. I was delayed getting the food because there were other people ahead of me, and when I came back it was 40 minutes into her lunch break. When she opened the black bags she didn’t have any sauce or humus. And the menu online was not set up right, so I offered to go back to the restaurant and get her sauce and humus, and to let them know they needed to update her menu. So I went back just now, got the stuff and by this time, I have driven 15 minutes there, 15 minutes back, 15 minutes there again, and now I’m trying to get back because she’s hungry, even though I won’t be able to enjoy lunch break with her. And when I saw the light turn yellow, I was like, “No!” and I pushed for it. And it turned red. I shouldn’t have, but I was frustrated and acted out of that frustration.
“I am sorry. I recognize what I should have done, and I ask you for a warning. I am not entitled to one, and I don’t deserve one, but I boldly ask you for one. I trust your judgment in this case, and if you give me a ticket, I will receive it.”
The officer paused a moment and took my license and said, “Wait here.”
He went back to his car, and looked through, presumably my traffic record. After about 5 minutes he came back to say this:
“Sir, I see in my records that you are a teacher at a Christian school is that right?
“If any one of those kids saw you run that red light what would you say to them?”
“I would tell them I was wrong to do so and that I have repented.”
“You better have. I see on my records you’ve gotten pulled over one other time for running a red light, and you told the officer that time it was due to ‘frustration’.”
“You need to deal with this frustration issue. I don’t want to catch you doing this again. Red lights aren’t optional. You could get yourself or someone else seriously hurt.”
“That’s your warning.” He said as put his notepad back into his pocket. “Now, I’d like to ask you a personal question, if you’re willing.”
My eyebrows furrowed as I blinked and said, “Okay.”
“Does your wife usually send you back to get things that restaurants miss?”
“No sir. This is something I wanted to do for her.”
“Alright,” the officer said as he pulled out his wallet and handed me 40 dollars! “This should cover it.”
I was shocked as I said, “Officer, this is not necessary.”
“You teach the Bible, right?” asked the officer.
“Yes sir.” I answered
“Then you probably know that in Romans 13, it says the governing authorities are servants of God for good, to punish evil behavior and praise the good. Your willingness to go and make things right for your wife is commendable, so let me help cover the cost.”
Tears filled my eyes and streaked my cheeks as I reached out my hand to shake his hand.
“Thank you, sir. I know things are really hard for the police right now. I just want you to know how glad I am that there are those of you on the force who seek not only punitive justice, but restorative justice.”
The officer shook my hand firmly and said, “I hope I never forget that.”
He bid me “Take care,” and I went home to my wife.
The story is fictional, but should it be?