While I plan on sharing a lot of funny things that happened to me during my time a State Trooper, I also want to share some of the other things that happened. There were a lot of things that happened during my time on the Patrol that were very impact-full, both to me and to others. Here is one of my favorite stories involving what I consider to be one of the best decisions that I ever made while serving as a State Trooper.
I was working an accident one day that involved two vehicles, one being driven by an older man and the other driven by a young woman who had a small child with her. This was an easy investigation, he ran a stop sign and hit her. I should be done with my paperwork and on my way in less than an half hour. Sometimes we overlook the easy or simple things as those that will either have the greatest difficulty or the greatest impact. This one had one of the greatest impacts I think I ever experienced as a State Trooper.
As I was collecting the necessary information, drivers licenses and registrations, I found that the young lady with the small boy did not have a license with her. When I ran her information to confirm that she a had a valid license, I found that instead it had been suspended for failure to pay a fine. The last suspension was simply for driving while it had been suspended. After I got the information, I went back to the investigation and completed the report. The man who ran the stop sign was cited and he was released to go with his copy of the report.
I then went over to the young woman and told her the results of the investigation and that the other driver was obviously at fault. She seemed like someone who had had a tough time in life, but at the same time she was really a very nice person. I looked at her and I said “Did you know that your license was suspended?” She quickly acknowledged that she knew that it was and she knew that she shouldn’t have driven to the store. Then as she tried to talk, she struggled as her eyes began to water.
In the many years that I was a State Trooper, I saw a lot of people cry. Men and women, it didn’t matter whether it was an act or real, I had seen a lot of tears. Her tears were different, they had a sincere humility and respect within them. When I asked her what happened, why did she not pay the original ticket when she first received it. Her story wasn’t unusual, she was a single mother who was getting no help from her ex-husband and she was broke and living on someones couch just trying to get her life back together again.The whole time that she was telling me her story, I could tell that she wasn’t trying to get out of going to jail or getting a summons for a court appearance. She wanted something more than just a quick way out, she wanted a changed life and I could see it in her eyes.
Standard procedure would have been to set at least a court appearance, for driving with a suspended license was a criminal offense. While we tend to like everything black and white and laid out for us, life needs discernment and judgement not based only on rules and regulations. I am glad that God created a way to get us out of the mess that we created for ourselves. He could have kept the old rules in play and we were destined for judgement, but he created another law, another rule and sometimes people need another rule, another chance.
I looked at the young lady and I said to her “You know what I could do?” “I could send you to jail or to court and it would cost you another $250 or even $500, but here is what I am going today.” “I am going to let you go and give you the chance to spend that $250 on getting your license back.” I can still see her face as she grabbed my hand and thanked me not with words, but with her smile and tears. I told her, “Here is your next chance to get it right, don’t blow it.” She said she wouldn’t! She had her sister come and pick her and her son up, and then she left. I went back to work and as I did I prayed that God would help her.
It was almost a year later. I was eating lunch with a bunch of my buddies after we had worked a detail checking drivers licenses. As usual we were laughing and just having a good time recalling some of the funny things we had just seen earlier at the checkpoint. All of sudden I saw the guys across from me look up at something just over my shoulder. As I turned around I saw that same young woman holding her son, looking 100 times better. In one move she held out her new license with her new “My new life has begun” picture on it. She didn’t go into a lot of detail but she very warmly and genuinely said “Thank you officer! “I didn’t waste the chance you gave me, Thank you!” I think I got teary eyed myself as I said to her “That’s awesome! I’m proud of you.” She left and of course everyone wanted to know what that was about. I can still remember saying “That was about one of the best things I have ever made while wearing this uniform.”
Today, as you look around your world, who’s life can you help change for the better. I know we all get tired of the people who never get it and who keep doing it again and again,but there are others who are ready for another chance to change. Today, there are others who will not waste the chance that you give or reject that opportunity provided to turn it around. Just remember that everything is not always black or white. Thankfully we don’t live in a black and white world or none of us would have a chance of every making a turn for good. I am so glad that I serve a God and Savior who loves me enough to give me a second chance. When I look into the heart of God and the decision that He made for all of us, in giving his son Jesus for our sins. I smile as I think He also believes that it was one of the best decisions that He ever made. Today, if you haven’t already, take that chance and make the most! Your “My new life has begun” picture is waiting to be taken!