There is an old story about members of various Roman Catholic orders arguing about which religious order was the greatest. Finally, a member of a small, obscure order spoke up.
“Well,” he said, “we might not have the scholarship of the Jesuits, or a reputation for piety like the Franciscans, but in humility, we’re tops.”
In 1937, my parents decided to build a new home at Carolina Beach, North Carolina. One day that year, I went with Mom and Dad to visit an architect in nearby Wilmington. I remember that the office was located on Market Street, not too far from the place where I was to attend high school some seven years later.
After the meeting with the architect was over, my father started driving down Market Street but soon realized that he was headed in the wrong direction. At the next intersection there was a stoplight and a big “No U Turn” sign. Dad saw the sign, but since there was no police car in
A 1937 Dodge like my father’s
sight, he decided to chance it. He no sooner had made the U turn than we heard the brief sound of a siren, and an officer in an unmarked automobile pulled us over. I watched my father with interest as the policeman approached. Dad rolled down his window and then removed his hat and placed it over his heart. As the officer neared the car, Dad was quick with an explanation.
“Officer,” he said, “I see I made a mistake. I hope you find it in your heart to forgive a poor, ignorant country boy who doesn’t come to the city that often.”
I don’t know how Mom and I managed to suppress our laughter. Dad as a “poor, ignorant country boy” was a bit too much. Anyway, it worked! The officer smiled, gave Dad a polite verbal warning, and let him proceed on his way. There was no ticket.
The lesson I learned that day I took to heart. The lesson was humility. Be courteous. Respect authority. Admit it when you are wrong. In the years since I have applied that lesson on many occasions. Most of the time it works — even when dealing with a traffic stop. Although I have been pulled over a number of times, and although I have more than once deserved a penalty, I have yet to receive a ticket or a fine for a moving traffic violation.
P.S. Though I have never been ticketed, since the advent of photo ticketing my automobile has been found guilty of a violation on several occasions.