Before the party, read this

By Mike Rainone

December is always a busy month, full of gala celebrations and goodwill, starting off with all the Christmas festivities and then ushering in yet another year of our lives.

While most everyone is really looking forward to quality time and relaxing with family and friends, we must always pause and show respect and care for the well being and safety of others, and of course ourselves.

At this time of the year especially it is always a temptation to have ‘one more for the road,’ but unless we are prepared to stay over, take a taxi, walk home, or have a designated driver, the results could be very devastating.

A little story with a sobering message

After a really tough day at the office, Jack decided to meet the boys for a few drinks, then a couple of hours later jumped into his car and proceeded to rush home. Somewhere along a slippery residential street he was startled back to reality by the flashing lights of a police car. Jumping out of the car, he approached a man he had seen every Sunday in church, but had never seen in uniform before.

“Hi Bob, fancy meeting you like this!” was Jack’s rather casual opening remark. ‘Hello, Jack!’ was Officer Bob’s reply, with absolutely no smile. ‘Guess you caught me red-handed and in a rush to see my wife and kids?” Jack asked. ‘Yeah, I guess,’ replied Bob.

Jack thought it was good that the officer seemed uncertain about his reply, then came back with the excuse, ‘I’ve seen some long days at the office lately, and I’m afraid that I may have bent the rules a bit, just this once!’

Jack nervously toed at a pebble on the pavement and reiterated, ‘Diane said something about roast beef and potatoes tonight…. You know what I mean!’ ‘I know what you mean,’ Officer Bob replied very quickly, ‘I also know that you have a reputation in our precinct!’

Ouch, this was not going in the right direction, and it was time for Jack to change his tactics. ‘What did you clock me at?’ ‘Seventy. Would you sit back in your car please?’ ‘Now wait a minute here, Bob. I checked as soon as I saw you, and I was barely nudging 65!’ This lie seemed to come easier with every ticket, but the officer firmly ordered Jack to get back into his car. Now very flustered, Jack hunched himself through the still-open door, slammed it shut and stared at the dashboard in no rush to open the window.

The minutes ticked by and Jack could see Bob scribbling away on his pad. Why hadn’t he asked for a driver’s license? Whatever the reason, it would be a month of Sundays before Jack would ever sit near this cop again.

A tap on the door jerked his head to the left, and there was the officer, a folded paper in his hand. The now totally flustered Jack rolled down the window a mere two inches, just enough room for Bob to pass him the slip. ‘Thanks,’ Jack uttered, but could not quite keep the sneer out of his voice.

Bob returned to his police car without a word while Jack watched his retreat in the mirror, then unfolded the sheet of paper and wondered how much this one was going to cost him? Wait a minute — was this some kind of a joke? It certainly was not one of those tickets he was used to getting, and then he slowly began to read.

Dear Jack:

Once upon a time I had a daughter. She was six when killed by a car. You guessed it, a speeding driver who had been drinking. A fine and three months in jail, and the man was free. Free to hug his daughters, all three of them. I only had one, and I’m going to have to wait until Heaven before I can ever hug her again.

A thousand times I’ve tried to forgive that man. A thousand times I thought I had, and maybe I did, but I need to do it again, even now. Please pray for me Jack and be careful Jack, as my son is all that I have left. Bob.

Jack turned around just in time to see Bob’s car pull away and head down the road, watching as it slowly disappeared. A full 15 minutes later he too pulled away and drove slowly home, praying for forgiveness and then tightly hugging a surprised wife and kids when he arrived.

There is a vivid message here for all of us to follow. Life is precious, and we need to handle our own and others with extreme care. Please drive safely, carefully, and sensibly, and always remember that cars are not the only things recalled by their maker.

Cherish the warm spirit of love and friendship that is in all of us, and have a great week, all of you!