I got stopped the other day. I was heading to lunch south of where I work and an officer saw me without my seatbelt on. The moment I saw him I put it on. He followed me for a few blocks, flashed his lights, and pulled me over.

He came up to the car and asked me if I knew why I was being stopped and asked for my license and registration. I had my seatbelt on when he got up to the car. He looked at it and then told me that when I had passed him I was not wearing it.

In this moment I had a choice to make: Do I admit that I had done wrong? Or do I a make a case that I had it on now? Fortunately I took the responsible route and owned up for what I had done.

He went back to his car to do whatever it is that police officers do and it gave me a few minutes to think. The public has a skewed picture of most police officers. The man who was writing me a ticket was professional, courteous, and kind. He was doing the job that he had been entrusted with, keeping the public safe. He came back to the car and I apologized for now following the law and thanked him for his time. He did his job and did it well. I didn’t like the ticket I was now holding, but that was my fault, not his.

I was reminded of all of this yesterday when I went to the county courthouse to pay for the ticket. I was standing in line at the court clerks office. An officer was standing against the wall watching over everything. A woman walked up with her granddaughter in tow. She looked down at her granddaughter and told her to be good or the police officer would lock her up. He smiled at the girl and told her that he wouldn’t do that and that he was there to help. The lady smirked and told the girl again to behave or the cop would do her in. He smiled at the girl and told her again that he was on her side. The officer walked away and the woman looked at me and said, "On our side, yeah right." This man was kind and very professional. He didn’t deserve that.

I was standing in line to pay for a ticket that I deserved. I am certain the woman was standing there for the very same reason. She and I had very different views on why we were there and whose fault it was. Have you encountered situations like this? Passing blame and making someone else the villain seems to be a way of life for many. I don’t want to live like this. Through this whole process I didn’t get angry (except at myself). I chose to be accountable for my actions. I made the right choice.

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