There are fewer things more nerve-wracking than when you're just driving in your car, minding your own business, and then you see those red-and-blue lights flashing behind you.
The relief that you feel when you slow down and move to the side and that cop passes you, is palpable.
But when that cop slows down too and stays behind you and it becomes clear that you're being pulled over — it's a horrible, horrible feeling. You try and think of anything and everything you were doing wrong.
Were you speeding? Did you run a red light? Is your car's registration updated? Do you have your new insurance cards? Did you accidentally run over somebody and not notice? The craziest things pop into your head.
Oftentimes, the stoic demeanor and more-often-than-not, jerk behavior from police makes the whole getting-pulled-over experience that much worse. Which is compounded when you have no idea what it is you did wrong.
As a young college student, there were times when cops in small towns would pull me over and I know I was obeying all the rules of the road, but I was given a ticket anyway. Immediately I went home to Google the legalities of ticket quotas and cursed the fact that my broke-butt would be even broker now that I have this expense that came out of nowhere.
I have been fortunate enough to get friendly cops who let me off with warnings, which is a feeling that could only be equated with trying Nutella as a child for the first time. I don't care what the Buddha says, but that's what Nirvana must be like.
Generally, tickets and fines are the worst things ever. And while it's easy to loathe the police officer who goes ahead and gives you one, this officer from the North Ridgeville Police Department recently ticketed someone for a darn good reason.
He stopped an 18-year-old who was barreling down a 65 mph zone at 100 mph. Now I don't know what car he was driving, but I'm going to say that every time I went over 75 mph, I knew exactly what speed I was going. I don't think there are many people who hit 100 "accidentally."
The cop had a simple message for the teenager he just slapped with a ticket: "you're welcome."
Now if he left it at that it would seem like a jerkish comment from a lame-o cop in a coming-of-age teen comedy, but his explanation is what really makes it.
The officer says the he believed he stopped a young person from inadvertently committing a "Christmas tragedy" for fining him into slowing down.
"To the 18-year-old kid I stopped on SR 10, You’re welcome. I’d like to believe that you were minutes away from creating an unspeakable Christmas tragedy when I stopped you," he wrote on Facebook. "If not only killing yourself, you were well on your way to killing some innocent person who was minding their own business doing nothing else wrong but being in front of you."
He then refuted the young person's claim that they didn't know how fast they were going. I'm going to have to side with the officer here:
"You said you didn’t realize how fast you were going. That’s a lie. You may not realize when you’re doing 45 in a 35 but you are fully aware of every mile per hour at 100. You realize it with every bump you hit. You realize it as you pass cars so fast the wind moves your car. You realize it every time you drift over the line and when you move the wheel the car reacts a lot quicker than you’re used to. You absolutely realized it."
The cop went on to say that while he acknowledge the young person was scared, that they were frightened for the entirely wrong reason. They should've been more afraid of endangering others on the road:
"You were scared when I stopped you. You were visibly shaking and breathing hard. Unfortunately, you were scared one minute too late and for the wrong reason," he added. "You should have been scared that you were trying to kill yourself. I know you’re invincible. I know that you can’t even fathom your own death."
Things got real, and when I say real I mean real once the officer started begging the young man to consider his mortality. Something that an 18-year-old would probably never do. We all have our whole lives ahead of us when we're really young, right?
"I can tell you dozens of stories of dead and broken 18-year-old bodies that I’ve pulled from cars. Broken bodies that I’ve found in front yards after crashes. Unrecognizable bodies. They thought they were invincible too. They weren’t," the cop continued. "They were gone so they missed the part where I had to tell their parents that they were dead. Part of your soul disappears every time you have to tell parents that their kid is dead."
You can tell that the officer is speaking from experience when he tells the young driver that having to inform a parent they lost their beloved kid to speeding or reckless driving is soul-killing.
"I don’t KNOW your parents, but I know them. I know that when you leave every day they say “Be careful. Drive safe.” Those aren’t just words. That is the very last act of them pleading with you to come home safe. When they get a knock on the door, it’s not “Good afternoon ma’am. Your 18 year old son just had a massive heart attack. It’s “Can we sit down? Your son has been involved in a very serious crash. I’m so sorry. He’s died.""
"When you leave the house they know that, far and away, the best chance you have of dying that day is in that car. Sometimes you’re the innocent person hit by someone with no regard for anyone else and sometimes you’re the one with no regard for anyone else. Today you were the latter."
While the officer mentions that the young driver "seemed like a nice kid" he doesn't feel bad about fining them at all. He wants them to think about the ticket every time they make a payment towards it and that they sincerely hope the teenager thinks twice before driving recklessly again:
"You seemed like a really nice kid who made a bad decision. I don’t feel bad about this ticket at all. In fact, I’m proud of it," he ended the letter. "I hope you’re paying it off for months and with every payment you think about how it wasn’t worth it. I hope you slow down. I hope that when your mom tells you to “drive safe” you make a promise to her, and yourself, that you will. I hope you can envision me sitting in your kitchen telling your screaming mother that you have been killed."
But most of all, the cop just wanted to young driver to know that they are not invincible, despite what they think. Life is precious and they should start treating it as such:
"Slow down. Please. You are not invincible. I promise."
The officer's letter to the young driver struck the hearts of people online and it quickly went viral, garnering over 65,000 shares and 37,000 reactions.
People who had similar experiences with the law says that while they hated receiving a ticket at the time, they were happy the cop took their job so seriously and ultimately, it helped curb their dangerous speeding habits.
What do you think? Does the officer have a point? Or is speeding not a big a deal as reckless/swerving driving, and that the cop is just trying to put a positive spin on ruining some young kid's day?