January 27, 2012

An Early Driver's Ed Class

Telephoto Zoom from iPhone #woahdude

Raise your hand if you have ever violated a traffic law.

Oh, come on. Be honest.

You know you did a Texas pause at a stop sign in your neighborhood once or twice.

How about a speeding ticket? I bet you have had at least one in your life, right?

These things have been on my mind a lot because in just a few weeks my big kid is turning FIFTEEN - and sooner than later he'll be taking driver's ed and learning to navigate the Texas highways.

He's paying attention to the roads these days. I'm pointing out landmarks and street names to make sure he can find his way home if he gets lost. We're going over maps to help him gain direction.

I had no idea that I was going to be giving him a REAL LIFE driving lesson yesterday. I got to be the bad example and the good example, all at once.

With and without the Telephoto iPhone lens: wow!

Here's what happened:

We had two appointments at our orthodontist scheduled - for both of my teenagers. That means tight teeth and misery, so I usually make the day a little sweeter by offering to include a meal out. They decided on Chicken Minis from Chick-Fil-A.

All that would have been fine, but mama had a hard night with the nursing baby and lost about 2 hours of beauty rest... so we got out of bed with only 30 minutes to spare before we had to leave. Chick-Fil-A was not going to happen unless we skipped showers and didn't fret over jackets and hairstyles.

After our harried rush to the door with all four kids and a diaper bag, I had my daughter call Chick-Fil-A and order our meal so it would be ready when we got there.

[I bet you didn't know you could pre-order fast food to make it faster, didya?]

I was driving along and keeping an eye out for the cranky toddler and baby in the visor mirror because they were poking and hitting each other. Nothing like a whining, screaming two year old in the morning to set your nerves on edge.

Happy Little Fart #instagood #instagram #iphone4 #all_shots #janphotoaday #happy #smile #toddler #kid #boy #carseat #giggle #laugh

[He looks happy in that photo, sure... but don't let that fool you.]

The road was almost empty except for a few cars that passed me up because I wasn't speeding. I didn't even notice the light at the edge of town turning red and drove right through it at about 60 miles per hour. No one was in front, beside or behind me that I could see, so I had no idea I had run a red light until I whizzed through and saw a car in my peripheral vision rolling towards me on the left. I suppose the visor was to blame for me not seeing the color of the light changing.

Thankfully, there wasn't any chance of me hitting the person because they had just started to roll forward and weren't far in to the intersection yet. I kept on going because there was really no reason for me to stop. The other driver only had to break - even though my son said he caught a glimpse of his face when we passed and he was not happy at being inconvenienced.

I was a ways down the road when this same man came ZOOMING past me on my right (he had to be going well over 80 to catch me at that speed so quickly) and SWERVED in front of my vehicle, coming precariously close to my front bumper. Then he slowed down and put his breaks on.

[Can anyone say "road rage"?]

I wasn't going to bite. Instead of getting irate like I suspect he was hoping, I slowed and moved to the right to get out from behind him. I am guessing he expected me to try and get in front of him, so he swerved over in to my lane again and slowed further. The speed limit was 65 and I was down to 50 or so.

Realizing that he wasn't going to let me be, I put the safety of the FOUR children in my car first and slowed to give more bumper space. Even though he was being a jerk, I stayed behind him another seven minutes in to town while he continued to change speeds to irritate me.

Right before I was about to turn right in to the shopping center to get our breakfast, he pulled three lanes over to the left to make a left turn and slowed to make it obvious that he and his wife were looking in to our car. Unable to punish me with road rage, the guy CALLED THE POLICE and reported my red light infraction.

Sleeping Traveler #janphotoaday #all_shots #iphone4 #instagram #instagood #baby #blackandwhite #sleep

Thinking my run-in with a crazed driver was over, I went about my business and took the kids to eat, see their orthodontist and to piddle around in town for a bit. We had just finished our cheeseburgers at the table when the doorbell rang.

"Is this your vehicle in the driveway, mam?" The officer asked.

Mr. Road Rage had made me sound like a hit and run driver by telling the police I came "this close to T-boning him" (insert exaggeratedly small pincher fingers here). Hardly.

"The guy nearly clipped my mom's headlight off after he sped past us." Kaden told him.

After my fifteen year old and I both shared the same story about our scary stalker, he took my driver's license, went back to his car, and wrote up a report.

He came back to the door and informed me that although he had told the man I had not tried to deny the fact that I ran a red light, he was unwilling to back down on insisting that I get a ticket for it. He told the man that if I wanted, I could report him for reckless driving and he would get a ticket, too.

The guy said he wanted me to get a ticket and didn’t care if I said he was changing lanes unsafely because I was a liar.

"You know, we rarely get anything like this." The officer said, sighing. He said he would be on his way over to the guy's house to write him a ticket after he left. I wasn't sure that really made me feel better.

So there you have it. Hand-delivered, door-to-door tickets and the end of nearly a decade's worth of a perfect driving record - all for the careful scrutiny of my teenagers, I suppose. There's a reason for everything.

Here's the positive I'm taking away from this experience... (I'm serious about counting blessings):

1. We could have been in an accident, and thankfully - praise be to God - we weren't. It would be a lot different if some or all of us weren't here any more because of my accidental red light mishap or if I had tried to engage in this man's road rage.

2. My kids saw me stay cool when someone on the road was clearly out of line and hostile. I hope that they would do the same if the wheel had been in their hands.

3. My kids saw me tell the truth to a police officer - and we even discussed that I would rather tell the truth than get off without a ticket. I told them that I know I have run a few red lights here and there and it is only fair that I pay a ticket if I really ran a red light. I want them to take responsibility for their actions - even when it costs them something.

4. My children will be learning about the process involved with getting a ticket, responding in a timely manner, going to court, and doing what needs to be done to clear your driving record if need be. Maybe I'll even let my son take defensive driving online with me for a preparation of what is to come. It couldn't hurt.

I guess we can look forward to an extra courthouse field trip this year (or two - depending on how Mr. Grumpy Pants responds to HIS ticket). Not necessarily something I would have EVER put on the lesson planner, but a valuable set of lessons, none-the-less.


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Daisy said...

I am utterly amazed that the police office could give you a ticket on the word of another driver? I thought they had to actually SEE you commit the infraction (thus camera lights).

What's to stop some vengeful nut-job from targeting anyone he feels should get a ticket?

Sounds like you handled it the right way though. You knew you'd made an oops and took responsibility for it in front of your kids. Way to go, Mom. Hopefully the other guy learns a big lesson.

Dee @ Start Dreaming said...

That person was INSANE!! I would have been a bit freaked out by someone doing that to me. I'm so glad that no one was hurt in this ordeal though.

Take care!!

Bon Crowder said...

I have an associate's degree in defensive driving. It still doesn't make getting tickets easier.

And this one is especially weird and scary.

Glad you're alright and you're making lemonade out of this one!


Michelle said...

Oh my word! Bless your heart. I'm so thankful you and your children are safe--I have done the same thing--run a red light and didn't realize the light was changing. It happens to all of us. I don't think that driver making those unsafe moves around your car was productive-or safe. Law enforcement officers make tough decisions, don't they? I bet he felt bad giving you that ticket.

Kristal said...

Oh goodness Heather... what a story. I wonder how his wife feels about what he did... or what kind of husband he is. Just shocking what people will do.

Mama Teaching 3 said...

Oh my word! :( I think you handled it just the way you should. I am so sorry that guy was so horrible and in front of your kids. :( I am thankful that the police officer was so kind and that he went to right the other guy up for his horrible driving ON PURPOSE! :( He could have really hurt you guys.

Proverbs 29:22 An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.

This was more than a lesson in driving and how to deal with those in authority. This was so much more. I am smiling because your sweet children were home with you to witness this moment and to grow in so many ways from it.

Anonymous said...

Good grief! So glad ya'll are ok. I have a 16 yo boy who will be getting a permit soon. We are taking it slow and making him put in far more hours practicing before he gets the real thing. Not looking forward to it though. There are too many bad drivers out there! I'm surprised you can get a ticket on a he said she said kinda thing like that.


Patricia said...

Wow, Heather! What a story! And I LOVE how you have focused on all the good that can come from this.

So, so grateful that no one was hurt. Takes your breath away, doesn't it?

Love you bunches,

Dawn Camp said...

This is completely crazy. I didn't know a driver could request a ticket be issued to someone else and himself, too. I think you're fortunate he didn't cause a wreck. Good job keeping your cool and sorry for the inconvenience. :(

Misty said...

Hi, I just started reading your blog and I really enjoy it. I also have four kids, the oldest being 14 and the youngest 9 months! I am a native Texan, and up until 4 years ago I lived their my entire life!

I found your blog while researching homeschooling. I'm considering homeschooling my 9 year old next year.

I think you acted very appropriately in this situation, and I'm sure your children are proud of you and will always remember this day! Way to set a wonderful example!

Anonymous said...

I'm just curious...how can you be issued a ticket by an officer for an incident that he didn't witness? You can get a ticket based on someone else's story?! I am very impressed with how calm you stayed. What a great example!

Ahermitt said...

wow. When car-stalked, I think the best thing to do is dail 911 and tell the police you are being harassed. My sis n law has been known to hold up her cell phone while talking and weirdos always go away.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Wow!!! I am so sorry you had to deal with that crazy man! You did a great job handling it! (Found your blog through your GHAH post.)

Rhonda said...

How scary! I'm so glad you and the kids are okay. And kudos to you for keeping your cool and being a good example to your kids.

Sprittibee said...

I hope that we can get this resolved this week. I agree that the way they gave the ticket was really freaky. I had never heard of someone showing up on your porch to deliver a ticket before! Wonder what the judge will say.



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