This past week, I found an envelope in the mail with the return address of Calgary Police Services. I had a hunch they weren’t sending me fan mail, and I was right. It was a ‘violation ticket’, stating that on the 1st day of May, 2013, I was recorded driving 44 km/h in a 30 km/h zone. I had been nabbed in one of the city’s playground zones which, along with school zones in the province of Alberta, have a maximum speed limit of 30 km/h.
My first reaction to seeing the ticket was denial, followed closely by excuses.
Some of the dialogue that ran through my head went like this…
- there must be some mistake (even though photo radar caught not only the speed, location, and time but also a very good shot of the back of my car and rear license plate)
- it couldn’t have been me (even though the driver was too short to be seen even a bit over the back of the seat. So, unless the driver was 12… well… it had to be me)
- there has to be some way out of it
- maybe I can get the fine knocked down (since it was only my second speeding ticket in 30 years of driving)
- my insurance (which is up for renewal next month) is going to go up
- I always obey those zones… I just had an especially rough day that day
What initially eluded me was this fundamental truth…
I was guilty…
no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.
I had to come to grips with the fact that I had disobeyed the law, no matter how unintentionally, and that there was no excuse for it.
There might have been an explanation but it didn’t excuse me.
Once I accepted the cold, hard, facts, I knew I was just going to pay the ticket. The consequences were mine, and trying to talk myself out of them – or into less of them – would only involve more excuses. I needed to take full responsibility for my actions.
There’s a saying that you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.
Nowhere have I found a saying that you can’t change what you don’t excuse.
And for good reason. The world is full of people who continually make excuses for their words, actions, behaviour, and reactions, and nothing ever changes.
What the world needs are people who will stand up, be accountable for their actions, accept the consequences, and learn from their mistakes. The people who are willing to do that have the potential to change their world.
I want to be one of those people.
I’m not going to claim that I’ve always taken responsibility for my actions because that would be a ridiculous lie. I can’t even claim that I took responsibility for my first speeding ticket four years ago because I made excuses to the officer who stopped me and got the fine knocked back, something I’m still not proud of.
But, I am going to say quite honestly that I have taken full responsibility for my actions behind the wheel on the 1st day of May, 2013. The truth is…
I was wrong.
The funny thing is that, since my mindset has changed, my thoughts have run more along the lines of…
- thank goodness I was only going 44 km/h, and not 45 km/h or more, or the consequences would have been way more severe
- I’m thankful the fine was only $87.00. It could have easily been over $100.00
- thank goodness it was only a speeding ticket, and not a way more serious infraction like hitting a child with my car because I was going too fast in a restricted zone
- if my insurance goes up because of the ticket, it goes up… I earned it with my actions
- the next time I have a rough day, I’m going to make sure I’m even more intentional about watching and obeying the road signs when I’m behind the wheel
So, how do I know I won’t have a change of heart and try to excuse away some or all of my ticket?
Well, as the saying goes… the cheque is in the mail.
Except the cheque really is in the mail.
And, now I’ll make a proper excuse, and excuse myself to go eat a little humble pie.