Jack & Bob

ticketAccording to the CDC, every day, more than nine people are killed due to distracted drivers. Every day, more than 1000 are injured. In these days of cell phones, texting and drive-through eateries, the potential for distracted driving is greater than ever. And driving is such a common activity that it’s easy to forget we’re piloting a weapon of notable destruction.

Even worse, young — inexperienced — drivers are far more likely to be involved in distractions involving their mobile devices or friends riding along. Traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.  In 2010, (according to the CDC) seven teens (16-19) died every single day in car crashes (making them about 8% of the 32,885 traffic deaths that year — a rate of about 90 people per day).

With that in mind, I give you the story of Jack & Bob…

accident-1Jack took a long look at his speedometer before slowing down: 73 in a 55 zone. Fourth time in as many months. How could a guy get caught so often?

When his car had slowed to 10 miles an hour, Jack pulled over, but only partially. Let the cop worry about the potential traffic hazard. Maybe some other car will tweak his backside with a mirror.

The cop was stepping out of his car, the big pad in hand.

Bob? Bob from Church? Jack sunk farther into his overcoat. This was worse than the coming ticket.

A Christian cop catching a guy from his own church. A guy who happened to be a little eager to get home after a long day at the office. A guy he was about to play golf with tomorrow. Jumping out of the car, he approached a man he saw every Sunday, a man he’d never seen in uniform.

accident-2“Hi, Bob. Fancy meeting you like this.”

“Hello, Jack.” No smile.

“Guess you caught me red-handed in a rush to see my wife and kids.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

Bob seemed uncertain. Good!

“I’ve seen some long days at the office lately. I’m afraid I bent the rules a bit-just this once.”

Jack toed at a pebble on the pavement. “Diane said something about roast beef and potatoes tonight. Know what I mean?”

“I know what you mean. I also know that you have a reputation in our precinct.”

accident-3Ouch. This was not going in the right direction. Time to change tactics.

“What’d you clock me at?”

“Seventy. Would you sit back in your car please?”

“Now wait a minute here, Bob. I checked as soon as I saw you. I was barely nudging 65.” The lie seemed to come easier with every ticket.

“Please, Jack, in the car.”

Flustered, Jack hunched himself through the still-open door. Slamming it shut, he stared at the dash-board. He was in no rush to open the window. The minutes ticked by. Bob scribbled away on the pad.

Why hadn’t he asked for a driver’s license? Whatever the reason, it would be a month of Sundays before Jack ever sat near this cop again.

accident-4A tap on the door jerked his head to the left. There was Bob, a folded paper in hand. Jack rolled down the window a mere two inches, just enough room for Bob to pass him the slip.

“Thanks.” Jack could not quite keep the sneer out of his voice.

Bob returned to his police car without a word. Jack watched his retreat in the mirror. Jack unfolded the sheet of paper. How much was this one going to cost? Wait a minute.

What was this? Some kind of joke? Certainly not a ticket.

Jack began to read:

Dear Jack,

Once upon a time I had a daughter. She was six when killed by a car. You guessed it – a speeding driver. A fine and three months in jail, and the man was free.

Free to hug his daughters. All three of them.

I only had one, and I’m going to have to wait until Heaven before I can ever hug her again.

A thousand times I’ve tried to forgive that man. A thousand times I thought I had.

Maybe I did, but I need to do it again.

Even now. Pray for me.
And be careful.
My son is all I have left.


teensJack turned around in time to see Bob’s car pull away and head down the road.

Jack watched until it disappeared.

A full 15 minutes later, he too, pulled away and drove slowly home, praying for forgiveness and hugging a surprised wife and kids when he arrived.

Life is precious. Handle with care.
Drive safely and carefully.
Cars are not the only thing recalled by their maker.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

11 responses to “Jack & Bob

  • dianasschwenk

    A beautiful story and I bet it was more effective for Jack than a ticket would have been!
    Diana xo

  • Maggie Wilson

    Very powerful post, thank you. A traffic cop said that if you encounter a driver who is traveling below the speed limit, they are most likely texting. I’ve shared this on my Facebook page.

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  • Nancy

    Amen Wyrd and so true. Sounds like the ‘sermon’ I’ve preached to my kids a hundred times. With 3 kids driving on busy San Diego freeways and streets for years, I just hope and pray that they’ll be safe. And that they’ll make the right choices along the way and not do something that could alter their lives forever. Scary.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I’ve always believed that learning to drive in Los Angeles made me a better driver (out of sheer necessity), and I’m sure San Diego applies the same “learn or crash” education pressure! Still, with cell phone use such common behavior, some concern seems appropriate. Hopefully the message getting out there more and more will have an effect.

  • The Color of Lila

    Great post. And yeah… I am not surprised that 9 people are killed every day by distracted driving. Actually, I am surprised it isn’t more. distracted driving is absolutely the new drunk driving.

    Here in the DC area, it seems that everyone is driving either 20 over like your speeder here, or 10 under with some damned thing in front of their faces. Combine that with a total disregard for lane discipline and it is a friggin’ nightmare.

    I bought a new car in 2010… my old one was 12 years old though I still really liked it… but I really, really wanted side air bags and curtain air bags. I have witnessed too many red-light runners and T-bone crashes for my comfort.

    And a motorcycle? NO WAY.

  • ~ Sadie ~

    Love it when stories hit home for people!! Great story!!

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