For not stopping at the stop sign just at the entrance to the kibbutz.
I mean, I did.
I just didn’t count to 3 one thousand.
I probably only counted to 1 one thousand.
Or, truthfully, I probably didn’t count at all.
I just slowed down.
And looked left and saw NO cars approaching.
So, I turned.
And that’s when the young policeman (I swear he couldn’t have been over 22 years old) appeared out of no where, stuck his finger out into the road (just like all Israeli children do – they raise their fingers – not their hands – in the classroom), and signaled for me to stop.
“Where are you from?” he asked knowing quite well where his question was leading to.
“America?” I replied, in the thickest American accent that would come out of my mouth.
He cocked his head.
“I mean. Here. Hannaton. I live here. But, I’m from America. I’m a ‘new immigrant’.”
(And I wondered to myself, how much longer I can use that as an excuse for just about every uncomfortable situation that arises in this country.)
“Well, immigrant or not, you didn’t stop at that stop sign.”
“I didn’t?” I played on.
Then, he proceeded to walk to the police car that magically appeared, spoke to his colleague, and returned back to me.
To declare my violation.
Out of instinct, I started to cry.
But, I persisted, on an act, because I’m quite good at that.
And it helps in many situations.
But, not this one.
“What are you crying for?”
So, I told him….
“I just had a surgery, and I’m not working much, and my husband is going to kill me, and I’m such a good driver, and I’m an AMERICAN driver, and I never ever ever had a violation and I don’t deserve a ticket!!!!!!!!”
But, he didn’t care.
He went back to the car to write up the report.
And I got stuck.
Not so much on the fact that I got a ticket.
A rule’s a rule.
And if I had to choose to live in a world where there were rules (and people were supposed to live by them) or live in a world where there were no rules, I’d prefer the former.
And the matter of fact is, I didn’t stop.
And I was supposed to.
So, I deserved a punishment by the authority that caught me in the act.
But, what I was really stuck on was something else entirely.
The unfairness of their sneakiness.
“It’s not fair!” I whined to myself, sounding like one of my children.
How can they hide inside of a tiny bus stop (parking their car off the road and out of sight), peer out the infinitesimally small window and watch anxiously like hawks for innocent Hannaton drivers to miss stopping at the stop sign?
That’s just downright obnoxious!
Which is what I wanted to say to the policeman when he asked, “Do you have anything else to say for yourself?”
“Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?” I wanted to shout.
“Why don’t you catch the notorious drivers who are either speeding and/or driving recklessly?”
“Don’t you know more people have died in this country from car accidents than all the wars and terrorist activities combined?” (Not that I know that for a fact, but I’ve heard it enough times to believe it.)
“You should be catching THOSE drivers!”
But, I said nothing.
I just dropped my head and in my last defense pathetically whispered, “I really thought I stopped.”
And after a quick email warning to the kibbutz Google group (“Police at entrance! Don’t forget to stop!”), and a good cry to a few kibbutz friends (one of whom is a policeman), I stopped for a moment and thought about what I was hanging on to.
Is that what I wanted?
For the police to catch all the “baddies”?
But, actually, justice was done, when I gave it a second thought.
I broke a rule and was punished for it.
No matter how innocent the offense was.
So, justice was exercised.
And instead of being stuck on “It’s not fair!”, I realized I can choose to look at the situation from another perspective.
That perhaps I’ll learn from this experience.
That perhaps this experience will one day save my life.
That perhaps God’s hand played in this scenario without me even knowing it.
And so, I let it go.
I let go of blaming those cops who were just trying to do their job.
Filling their monthly quota after two weeks of endless rain in which they probably lost time in doing so otherwise.
And I accepted my punishment.
Even though, the first thing on my list today was to call up the police authority and ask that my penalty be replaced with a warning.