It's okay to fight back…

I’d like to introduce you to my families new toy.

Isn’t she pretty?  She drives very nicely too.  The vehicle she replaced had seen better days and let us know it.  When the frame and the body seperate, it’s time for the owner and the vehicle to seperate ~ something about safety issues. lol

Anyhow, our new beauty, she has caused me a little frustration since we purchased her last Friday (yes, less than a week ago).  It’s really not her fault, in fact it’s not the fault of anyone involved in the transaction of purchase.  It’s another individuals fault, but I don’t want to come across as condemning, or chastising here.  On the contrary, I want to point out that we are all human, we do make mistakes and we have to be humble enough to learn from them.  Sometimes, that means asking questions.  Let me explain.

Leaving church on Sunday, not even 10 minutes after leaving church, I was pulled over by a police officer while driving our new toy.  I was a bit confused, to the best of my knowledge I had not done anything wrong.  Yet, there were the blue and red party lights flashing in my rearview mirror and even a little ‘whoop’ of a siren.  So, I pulled over into the parking lot of a nearby business.

When the officer approached my vehicle he told me he stopped me because when he ran my plates they showed that they were registered to a different vehicle.  I acknowledged that yes, they probably would show that since I had just purchased this vehicle on Friday.  (In the state where I live, as long as your registration is good and your tags are not expired you can transfer plates between vehicles with a purchase).  So, I handed the officer all of the paperwork to show that we had indeed just purchased the vehicle and the paperwork properly displayed the transfer of the plates from our old vehicle to our new one.

As expected, he took the paperwork and my license and went back to his vehicle for what seemed like forever.  The reality was probably 5 -10 minutes, but it felt longer.  Meanwhile I continued the conversation I was having with my son.  I had done nothing wrong, my paperwork was in order, I wasn’t concerned.  So imagine my surprise when the officer finally comes back to my vehicle with a warning citation for improperly display of my plates and tells me when I get home to immediately remove the plates from this vehicle.  Really?! Why?! Did something change here?  I’m confused…and the more questions I asked of him, the more confused I became.  I have to call the dealer, and DMV to ask them when everything is transfered before I can put these plates on?  I have to get a temporary plate in the meantime?  What?! Why?!

Well, the officer dismissed me (can I just point out here that I was behind him when we left the parking lot and he did not signal which way he was turning here ~ just sayin’ cause he couldn’t go straight).  So as we left, I was thinking: what did I do that caused him to run my plates to begin with?  He already told me that I wasn’t speeding.  I hadn’t run any signs.  So why did he run my plate?  And why was he giving me a warning for failing to display proper plates?  I was…wasn’t I?  I was beginning to feel like I had been treated unfairly…and I had been.

I happen to know the Sherrif of the little town I live in (I was pulled over in a different county) and my dealer was just as confused as I was, so I called my Sherrif.  I explained to him what had happened and he didn’t understand what was going on either but he would research it and asked me to stop in his office around lunch time today…so I did.

Now my dealer (who also happens to be my mechanic) took it upon himself to call the DMV to find out if he had done something wrong.  Yes, he was questioning himself as much as I was questioning myself.  After he spoke with three different people at the DMV (including a special investigator) and I spoke with the Sherrif I felt justified in knowing that all four state officials gave an identical answer ~ I had done nothing wrong and all of my paperwork was in order, my plates were displayed properly.  I could legally have those plates on my new vehicle.

So what happened to cause this whole situation to take place?  That is the million dollar question.  Per the suggestion of my Sherrif, I have a phone call into the Captain of the Police Department in the city in which this incident took place.  The hope is that maybe he can explain if there is an ordiance or something for that city that prompted this whole thing…or maybe, that the officer was in the wrong.

As I explained to my Sherrif when he asked how far I wanted to take this: “I think that if this officer is confused about the law he needs to have it clarified for him and be talked to about the situation.  When I make a mistake, or do something wrong, I am expected to, and I should, apologize, work to correct my error, and make restitution if necessary.  I do not see why this should not apply to him as well.  I pursed this because I truly wanted to, and needed to know what I did wrong so that I could correct it.  So far everyone is telling me I did nothing wrong.  The way I see it, his misunderstanding of the law has disrupted the lives of a minimum of three people: myself, for the obvious reason of not knowing what I did wrong; my mechanic/dealer, I’m sure he had other things to do on a Monday morning besides spend it on the phone with the DMV and the you (Sherrif), because I’m sure you had other things to do as well.”

Why have I shared this whole thing (as long as it is ~ sorry) with you, well, it’s not to whine about it, but to encourage you that when you are confused about something ask questions.  Even if when it means questioning those in authority (law enforcement).  They too, can and do make mistakes.  It’s when we fail to ask questions and just sit back with the attitude of “oh well, it could have happened to anybody”, “well, just let it go, no harm done”, “it’s the police, I can’t fight back” or worse, it is then that we are displaying an attitude of apathy and mindless droning that has caused a lot of the problems we see today.  Law enforcement officers are not above the law any more than politicians are not above the law.  Are there silly, ridiculous laws on the books (for example in my state you can’t sell raw milk), yes, yes there are.  Are there redundant, contradictory laws on the books?  Yes, yes there are.  Are we regulating ourselves silly?  Yes, yes we are.  But apathy and mindless droning are two of the main reasons that these have occured.

When you truly know you have not done anything wrong, or are confused about what you have been accused of doing wrong, ask questions.  Get clarification and don’t stop asking until you get a reasonable answer (doesn’t necessarily have to be an answer you like), it just has to be reasonable.

I hope this encourages you to ask questions and yes, even fight back.  Do not be attacking, nasty, or obnoxious ~ even if you are right, you will be wrong.  Be polite, be respectful, be humble…and most importantly, honor the Lord in your words and actions.  If you are truly in the right, the Lord will vindicate you.

Be Blessed!

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