I broke the law and ran into a police officer.

Dear Self,

I darted across the street looking furtively left and right.

There was a good stretch of footpath before the lights so I picked up my pace and looked straight ahead.

It was a cool morning and running felt good.

I could see the traffic light was green, the little man started flashing red, I checked for any cars that might be turning, he went solid red, and I powered into the intersection overtaking others who were already crossing.

I practically ran into her as she stepped forwards with her arms crossed and a very definite scowl on her face.

“Do you have a reason for crossing the intersection against the lights?”

Instantly I was amused at how silly I had been. I remembered the police car parked up the road. As I looked around there were several officers standing on the different corners, I’d clearly had tunnel vision, and I had crossed the road against the traffic signal.

“Nope, I saw the light was still green and just made a bad decision.”

She was confused by this response. Perhaps her script required a different answer more, aggression from me…

“Do you have a reason for crossing the intersection against the lights?”

She asked again sounding a little uncertain, unsure of where to go.

“No, no reason. I just did the wrong thing. I saw the green light for the traffic and I made the wrong decision. I’m sorry about that.”

More confusion on her face.

“Well, we’re cracking down on this kind of thing because too many pedestrians have been in accidents. I’m going to have to give you a fine.”

“Yes, of course. It was a stupid thing to do.”

“Do you have an identification on you?”

“Sorry no, no id — I’m just off to the gym.”

She looked over her left should to her ‘back up’ officer. I suspect she was in training and that this was one of the first times she had ‘enforced the law’. My response was a long way from what she had expected. What she had been trained for.

“What’s your name and address, we’ll have to radio for verification.”

As we stood around waiting for her ‘back up’ to do the verification she softened a little. I can’t remember what she said but I remember watching her relax a little, the edge coming off her stance, a softening in her face.

“All clear, thanks you can go.”

As I ran off to the gym ‘back up’ smiled at me and nodded an acknowledgement that I had been a reasonably good citizen who had infringed the law (rather than an angry, self justifying, disrespectful one).

‘Back up’ was there as I left the gym and again smiled at me and asked me how the session had gone.

This whole interaction was a break through for me.

Let’s just be clear that I would never have taken a police officer on and argued back in this situation. I was clearly in the wrong. But in the past I may have felt indignant or affronted or even angry about it and had to suppress these feelings in order to get through this exchange.

I felt none of that, not even for a brief moment. I was in the wrong. I knew the only path forwards was to take it on the chin.

In the end I was amused at how silly I had been and was keen to get the fine and move on.

Luke

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