Friday, March 30, 2012

The Rules Don't Apply

This morning as I'm on my way to see Fr. Charlie - going to confession about having a bad attitude amidst other things - I start belly aching to myself about the decreased speed limit ahead. Last summer there was road construction along this stretch of highway and the construction pretty much, but not quite, came to a stand still when winter arrived. For a little quarter mile stretch of construction they kept 15 miles of highway traffic slowed right down. Ridiculous, I tell, you, utterly ridiculous.

I tell myself that I'm going to ignore the posted speed limit. Screw the law. I'm not slowing down for anybody. I start boasting to myself about having a 35 year clean driving record. I wonder why I think I shouldn't slow down and the first thing that pops into my head is because the rules don't apply to me. As I think this the first decreased speed ahead warning sign appears complete with a red and white sunburst of stripes around it. They're making sure I am without excuse I tell ya.

I shake my head at my ridiculous conclusion that the rules don't apply. Of course they do. But still, I want to fudge them.

So I make a compromise within myself. I will only slow down if everyone else who is driving that stretch of highway slows down, too. As I mull this over the second red and white striped warning sign appears. I envision getting stopped for speeding and pointing to the vehicles ahead of me and protesting that they, they were speeding first.

And then I ask myself if I'm willing to take the consequences of believing the rules don't apply to me. Turns out I'm not. So I slow down and set the cruise control to the posted speed limit. I shake my head at myself. How quickly my thoughts can be not only illogical and self righteous but also how ready I am to defend them before putting any of it into action.

As I crest the hill I meet oncoming vehicles who are also going the speed limit. In fact all the way through this stretch of highway I see not one speeding vehicle. No one passes me. No one passes anyone.

Which might be explained by the cop car sitting in a wide turn out on the highway less than ten minutes after I entered the construction zone.


Daisy said...

so very good to hear your voice again!


annie said...

I thought about you this weekend as I drove back roads to a state park and pondered whether or not the rules applied to me! Thanks to your influence (and perhaps the heavy fog!) I stayed mostly within the limits.

Thank you for writing this, Hope. I have lately been thinking of places in my life where I have an attitude of entitlement. Thinking the rules don't apply to me is a very close cousin of that attitude.

Liam Ferguson said...

Several Lents ago, I decided to abstain from speeding. It took a lot of effort, but after Lent was over I didn't have the desire to go so fast anymore. I still may take it up to five over from time to time, but I'm generally a much safer driver now. Construction zones are still a challenge because they do go on forever for just a short stretch of actual construction. I use the cruise control, too. It's the only way I can do it.