Faith & You: Dare I ask, ‘Why am I an idiot?’ -- Terry Pluto

October 12, 2018

Faith & You: Dare I ask, ‘Why am I an idiot?’ -- Terry Pluto

CLEVELAND, Ohio – This is a story about a speeding ticket...

A speeding ticket that happened about 500 feet from my driveway...

And about being an idiot.

Finally, it’s a story about a battle not to let little things drive you crazy.

About a week ago, I pulled out of my driveway. The speed limit on my street is 25 mph.

All along my street, there are home made signs reading SLOW DOWN! There are a lot of young families on my street.

The day before, I saw a policewoman parked in a car, aiming a radar gun at me. This was about a quarter mile from home. It was another 25 mph zone. I was doing about 30 mph.

No problem, no ticket.

So as I pulled out of my driveway the next day, I knew the following:

1. Neighbors had been complaining to the police and city council about speeding on my street.

2. The police were taking it seriously.

3. I wasn’t even in a big hurry.


So I zipped out of my driveway, careful to stop fully at a STOP sign where the same policewoman was posted — the officer I saw the day before.

Then I drove about 200 feet and saw the lights in my rearview mirror.

The officer was very polite.

“You were doing 36 in a 25,” she said.

I started to say, “But I’m on my way to church!”

That actually was true, it was for an evening service.

But I also knew:

1. I probably was doing at least 35 mph.

2. What does church have to do with it?

3. I am an idiot.

She was polite as she wrote the ticket. She explained about residents complaining of speeding and how the police are talking it seriously.

I didn’t say much.

I remembered Proverbs 10:19: “When words are many, sin is not absent. But he who holds his tongue is wise.”

As she returned with my ticket, she mentioned, “Most of the people I’m ticketing are from the neighborhood.”

“And I live down the street,” I said. “I even saw you ticketing people yesterday.”

She laughed. I shrugged, and then I laughed, too.


When doing jail ministry, I often hold up a sign reading: WHY AM I AN IDIOT?

It’s a question we should never be afraid to ask ourselves in a situation like that.

It can save a lot of pain. When I’m an idiot, just admit it and then shut up.

I had been silently praying while she was writing me up. I have a lot of friends in law enforcement. I know most of them dread the job she was assigned.

“Encourage her,” were the words I heard.

You gotta be kidding.

I knew it was God, because when God speaks to me it’s short and it usually is something I don’t want to do.

Then I was reminded of how I flat-out lied to an officer about 12 years ago. I wrote a faith column about it. It was really embarrassing.

It was about not seeing a DON’T TURN ON RED sign at an exit ramp off I-77. He knew I was lying. The sign was right next to the light...and it was HUGE.

He let me off with a warning.

I also thought of how I was nailed for doing 67 in a 50 mph...about 100 feet after the speed limit dropped from 60 to 50. The speed trap is still there, on I-77 near the East 55th exit.

Then I thought of a few other times I was stopped, but not ticketed.

I told the officer that she had a good attitude...which she did.

I tried not to think about the cost of the ticket...I discovered it was $164!


Later that evening, I stopped at a nursing home to visit someone. I saw people in wheelchairs, people who would love to be able to drive...and yes, even get a speeding ticket.

I told a few of them about it. Their main thought was, “Who gets a ticket 500 feet from their house?”

Guilty as charged.

But thankful at the same time.

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