Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Matching tats

Mine (tattoo virgin)

My daughters (she's a pro)

The Importance of .002

I have a friend. He's a good guy. Has lots of common sense. He works hard and is very aware of the world around him. He thinks of himself as someone who is blessed with many things. And he is. Sometime last fall at a gathering of friends on a Saturday night, he decided to be as careful as he could be when it came to drinking that night. The party started at six and he had a drink. At eight oclock, he had another one and at ten thirty, one more. The party broke up after mid night and he had a conversation with himself about his condition. Should he crash at the hotel next door? Should he wait a few minutes or go ahead and make the five mile journey home? He decided to go ahead and drive home because felt like he was fine. His house was two turns off the interstate and there was no one on the road at that time of the morning. My friend was pulled over by the Maryland Heights Police not far after he entered the roadway. The reason? Not exactly clear. The cop put him through the usual regimen of tests including the finger to nose, stand on one leg etc. He passed all of those tests with flying colors. After passing those tests, the cop made him blow. He was arrested, handcuffed and hauled off to the station where my friend blew a .082 in the breathalyzer. .002 over the limit!! Do you realize how much .002 is? If you were to take a 12 oz can of soda, .002 would be two teaspoons. .002 equals two sips of a drink. So, all of his planning to be careful went for naught. He hired a lawyer. That lawyer told my friend that this was a pattern of that particular police department. They had a quota to fill and it was getting late in the month. The lawyer requested a copy of the police report and I remember my friend saying that what was on the report wasn't even close to what happened. See, my friend was indeed over the limit but not intoxicated or drunk. He has a very sharp recollection of what came down that night, because he was "careful". According to my friend, the cop embellished the police report to make it look worse than what it was and my friend did not recognize the chain of events as recorded by the officer. Now, my friend is lumped in with the drunk drivers in the world. The ones who habitually break the law. His driving record is ruined and this indiscretion will end up costing him thousands of dollars along with the pain, embarrassment and humiliation he now feels. He can't drive for thirty days and now must attend classes for alcoholics, although he isn't one. When his 30 days are done, he can only drive back and forth to work and it will take him years to get his insurance rates back in line. How much longer will it take to repair his reputation? Two sips. .002 Two thousandths. Thank God my friend works for a company and a boss who are forgiving and understand his importance to his company. He's already had a face to face discussion with each one of his employees to tell them the truth before they hear it somewhere else. He told me that one of the hardest things he's ever done was to talk to his kids and be honest about it. It's even a crueler twist of fate knowing his daughter had two friends killed by drunken drivers when she was in high school. Bob Dylan once sang about a simple twist of fate. He's living it. His faith in God notwithstanding, I wonder sometimes how large our shoulders must be to carry a weight so heavy. I'm not sure what has upset him the most. Was it the fact that he was careless or the fact that someone who is sworn to uphold the law lied. My friend was devastated and he still is. You can see it in his eyes and the way he handles himself. The confident, successful guy is now withdrawn and sad. "I don't know if I'll ever get over this" he told me. The moral? Before you have that last sip of the margarita or it's imperative to finish that last pitcher, think of my friend and know that .002 will be a scarlet letter he wears around his neck for the rest of his life. Yes, it CAN happen to you. And if it does, I don't wish this "simple twist of fate" on you or anyone.

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