My husband got pulled over for speeding the other day. Mr. Leadfoot has been teasing me for years about what a bad driver I am, so as you can imagine, I was delighted to be in the car witnessing the whole thing.
It was just before 8 a.m. on a Monday morning. With three kids and lots of snacks loaded into the minivan, we were ready to begin a day of great thrills.
A man in Fargo (a police officer, actually), told me about Kings Island Amusement Park when he found out I was moving to Ohio. It’s near Cincinnati, and he remembered going there a lot as a kid. Since I have a kid who is a roller coaster fanatic, we thought we’d check it out.
Kings Island is about two and a half hours from Athens. We headed out on the back roads, hoping to make good time and get to the park just as it was opening.
Now, back roads in Ohio are not like back roads in North Dakota. They are narrow, twisting, tree-lined, animal-infested and anything but flat. My husband was zooming along without a care in the world as I was stomping the invisible brake and silently praying Bambi and his friends wouldn’t choose this moment to leap onto the pavement.
While watching for potential roadkill, I barely noticed the Ohio State Patrol car pass us from the other direction. All of a sudden we were going a lot slower. My husband, like any good driver who sees a squad car, instantly decelerated. Unfortunately, it was too late. The patrol car turned right around, and before we knew it, we were seeing flashing lights.
I started to giggle. My poor husband. It’s no wonder he chose a job where he has to be out of a town a lot. When he’s home he has to deal with me!
When the trooper walked up to the car, it took everything I had not to yell, “Thank you! My husband is constantly calling me ‘Gordon Leadfoot’! It’s about time he got busted!” But no. I sat silently with a huge smirk on my face.
The trooper walked up to the window looking totally cool in his aviator sunglasses. He asked for Saul’s license and then asked where we were going in such a hurry so early in the morning. Saul sheepishly told him we were trying to get to an amusement park.
The trooper took off his shades and peeked at the three wide-eyed children in the back of the van.
“Kings Island? That place is awesome! Have you ever been there before? You guys are gonna love it! Don’t forget to ride Banshee – it’s new and I’ve heard it’s amazing.”
What?! Aren’t we supposed to be in trouble right now for breaking the law? Aren’t officers supposed to be so harsh and intimidating that they scare you into never breaking the law again?
Saul did get a ticket. He deserved it, and we all knew it. While the officer handed it over, I asked if I could take his picture with my husband. He said he couldn’t because he was pretty sure he would get into trouble with his boss if it showed up on Facebook.
And then he smiled.
That state trooper reminded us of two very important lessons: 1) Obey the speed limit, and 2) Your title doesn’t have to define how you treat people.
There is always room in every profession to lead with kindness.
Just before we drove off (at a very conservative speed), my 4-year-old timidly piped up from the backseat to ask which one of us had to go to jail.
Nobody today, sweetheart.
I’d love to hear your story of kindness! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.