Thursday, November 12, 2015
Don't be Caught with your Wheels over the Line: A Gripping Tale of how Justice was Served on Speer Boulevard
One gorgeous autumn afternoon in the most glorious city this side of Jerusalem, two and a half weeks ago, my Better Half, adorably delicious baby, and myself embarked on the return trip home after a lovely weekend in Vail, Colorado. We had the privilege of attending The Jewish Experience Shabbos Project retreat in Vail, and we were all incredibly inspired. My parents were kind enough to watch my other three children for 48 hours, and on this particular Sunday afternoon we were excited to be reunited with our children. As I got off the highway, about twenty minutes away from home, I called my Pops to tell him that we would be arriving shortly. During this short phone conversation, which is legal to have while driving in Colorado, I noticed a yellow light. Being the cautious, vigilant, excellent driver I am, I decided that I was going to go ahead and stop at the Yellow light, so as not to run the light. To my shock, and profound displeasure, I noticed the traffic light snapped my picture. I was not upset because I was concerned I was having a bad hair day; balding people in their thirties like myself don't have bad hair days. I was not even concerned that I wasn't looking good, exceedingly handsome individuals like myself always look good. I was upset because I was suspicious that this camera would send the picture to the Police, who would mistakenly think I ran the red light, which I most certainly DID NOT do. I turned to my wife to tell her to remind me that I did not in fact run the light, but she was sleeping more soundly then a African Zebra after a long day galloping in the meadowy Zimbabwean Safari. I thought to myself, shucks, if the Better Half is sleeping, I am going to have to remember this myself. "Note to self; you will probably get a letter in a week from the Denver PD accusing you falsely of running the light. Remember Dann-o, when you get that letter fight it, because right now you are are waiting for the light to turn green, just like all the other cars are waiting. After the light turned green, I promptly forgot about the whole episode as I got lost in my thoughts trying to figure out what I would be doing for the remainder of this afternoon given the fact that the Broncos had a Bye week.
Ten Days Later
As I casually strolled into my house for a lunch break on yet another fantastically beautiful Denver fall day, I couldn't help but smile as I was greeted by my adoring Better Half and my three youngest children. The salad The Better Half so lovingly prepared was waiting for me on the table. And that's precisely when I noticed it. I noticed a particular shiny white envelop sticking out in the mail box. I dramatically tiptoed over to see what it was. It looked serious, so I opened it. And to my dismay, the letter was a casual reminder about that fateful day ten days earlier. I looked inside and was shocked to see they wanted me to pay a forty dollar ticket! "That's absurd, thought I, I DIDN'T run the light!" And then I read that the ticket was not for running the light, it was for having my front wheels over the white line at a stop light/cross walk. And then I looked, and sure enough they got my photograph, showing, beyond reasonable doubt that I was guilty as charged, my two front tires were over the white line. I thought I would call anyways to plead my case; after all, I did NOT run the light! I called. And there was a recorded message which said, "Before we transfer you to anyone, please be aware that if your wheels crossed the white line, that is a violation of Colorado driving code of conduct and you will be ticketed for that heinous offense. Good day." I realized I didn't stand a chance. Pleading ignorance wouldn't help, for it was my responsibility to know the law. I dejectedly, ashamedly, hung up the phone, resigned to my bitter fate.
The Talmud in Tractate Avos, or Ethics of Our Fathers relates the following, profoundly powerful teaching: "Know what is above you: an Eye that sees, an Ear that hears, and all of our actions are recorded in a book." The simple understanding of this passage is that as Jews we are ultimately held accountable for our actions. We are not free to act in any way we please; at the end of the day we have to take responsibility for our behaviors, and we need to remember that G-d is vividly aware of our every action. After a person takes leave of this world, we are taught, a person reviews a recording of his life, and he signs off that everything he saw is in fact true, exactly as it happened. The evidence is presented in a very clear manner.
Seeing my car's two front wheels over the line demonstrated this concept in a powerful manner. We must never forget, that everything we do in this world has enormous significance; every action brings with it eternal ramifications. We cannot be caught with our wheels over the line. There's simply too much at stake.