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Monday, November 3, 2014

Responsibility

Every one of us, through the course of our lives, makes mistakes. The way we react to them, or deal with them, may say a lot about us. I think we have all been around people whose reactions run the gamut from flat-out denial, to shifting the blame to other people or circumstances, or admitting their mistakes and promising to try not to repeat them. I can think of people who fall in various spots on this scale, much to their credit or discredit, as the case may be. I tend to be one of the own-up-to-it types. I am sure that it has something to do with my experiences of punishment as a small child during the time I lived with Alice. If one does anything to try and delay punishment, it will likely end up being much worse. So I've gone in the other direction, I suppose. Better to just say I've made a mistake and get the consequences over and done with.

My friend and chosen-family member Tiffanie had an experience this weekend that made me think about this subject. She was driving home in the very early morning hours after a double shift on her job, when she was the victim of a rear-end accident. She had seen the other vehicle while she'd been driving, and had tried to keep an eye on him because he was driving erratically. The other car ended up behind her, and when the driver rear-ended her, ripping off his front bumper and license plate in the process, he fled the scene of the accident. This makes me wonder why the other driver left rather than stopping, checking on the other driver, calling the police, and so forth. Was he intoxicated and worried about the trouble he would get into as a result? Perhaps he already had several tickets and was afraid to lose his license. Who knows? Since he left his license plate behind, his mistake will undoubtedly catch up with him, along with the added charge of leaving the scene of an accident.

This reminded me of when I was in High School and my friends and classmates were getting their driver's licenses. A boy in my grade level, Billy, had his license, but somehow always managed to end up driving too fast. It can be easy to lose track of how fast you are going when you're a kid. Life is full of distractions, and sometimes your focus gets lost in the shuffle of friends and classes and potential dates and such. Billy had received several tickets and had had several points deducted from the allotment on his license. Unfortunately, he'd reached the point at which one more speeding violation would result in him losing his driver's license.

One day after school, as Billy was driving home, or wherever he was headed at the time, he once again started to drive too fast. A police officer turned on his lights and siren. Yes, he was, as we said in those days, busted. In a split second, Billy chose how he would react to this situation. Instead of pulling over and getting the ticket that would cost him his license, Billy hit the gas pedal. He tried to avoid the humiliation and inconvenience of losing his right to drive by running away from the law. He was just a sixteen-year-old kid, and not thinking logically, or even past the very moment. The officers took chase, and Billy began driving faster. From what we were told at school the next day, it didn't take very long for Billy to lose control over his car and crash. No, Billy didn't realize his fear of losing his license that day. It was far worse. Because of the actions he took trying not to lose his ability to drive, he lost his life that day.

I don't know what reasons the driver that hit Tiffanie had for leaving the scene of the accident the other night, and she'll probably never know. I am just grateful that she wasn't terribly hurt. She experienced some pain, and was very shaken by the experience. I hope that the other driver learned something from the accident. Running from taking responsibility for that kind of mistake ultimately gets you nowhere. And maybe he was shaken enough to realize that he needs to avoid whatever it was that was making him drive so erratically. I think if Billy could talk to him, he'd say a driver's license definitely isn't worth losing everything for.