It was a crisp, summer morning. I drove my son to school as always, chatting about what lessons he had planned for the day and catching up with him about his life and his emotions; something I felt was of importance to embrace the bond between us.
As we arrived at the school, there was a line of cars with eager parents saying their farewells to their kids; a regular occurrence, which made it sometimes impossible to find anywhere to pull in and stop. So fearing my son was potentially going to show up late for his day of education, I pulled up against the red curb across the street. It was only going to be a second, so I thought I could get away with it with no hassle. My son climbed out of the car, we said our farewells and he walked across the road to the school entrance as I watched, making sure he was safe.
Just as I prepared myself to pull away from the curb, I noticed an LAPD patrol car advancing towards me on the other side of the road. The car came to a gradual halt next to mine, as the officer behind the wheel rolled his window down and glanced over at me. I knew in my gut that I was in trouble; I'd been caught red handed! I rolled my window down; ready to accept the consequences of my poor parking judgment. But what happened next though, made a bad situation even worse.
"Hey, I know you," the surprised officer said as he studied me.
I was so flattered to be recognized by an officer of the law that I literally forgot about the situation at hand.
"You own a martial arts school, right?" he asked, sternly.
“I do, yes…” I proudly replied.“
The Officer nodded his head during a slight pause as he gave my car a disapproving look. ”Nice example to set for our kids, man. Way to go!"
The Officer drove away as I sat in my seat, completely defeated. I felt completely and utterly humiliated. In one second I had switched from the local celebrity to the local idiot. I almost wished the officer had given me a ticket; hell, I would have rather been arrested than made to feel like I did at that time!
I drove further up the road and parked in a space, out of the way of any parents dropping their children off outside the school gates. I just sat there, complete pain overcoming me. I could not get the shame out of my head and became obsessed with finding ways in which I could change the officer's opinion of me. Maybe I could take a coffee to the police station for him the next morning? Perhaps I could ask an LAPD friend of mine to reach out on my behalf and put in a good word for me? Or could I undertake some volunteering or community service for the officer to prove to him I was a decent member of society? I was prepared to do anything that would change the opinion of the officer about my character.
Then it hit me. I was trying so hard to talk myself out of a situation that I have behaved myself into. It had been a humbling lesson to start the morning. Consequences are what influence the actions all of us take on a daily basis. But unpleasant outcomes can keep us from repeating the same mistakes, and this episode was definitely one of them. I always take more care now where I park my car; the examples I aim to set should not be prioritized in my own world, but in everybody else’s too. This is what makes a person a strong member of society.