In this case, the song is “This is the Stuff” by Francesca Battistelli.
My Monday started off half asleep. I drove my 15-year-old to school at 7:25 a.m. I drove home the same way I always do…through a neighborhood behind the local park, which is easier than dealing with the morning backups on the main streets.
Visions of coffee cups dancing through my head overrode the brain’s message to stop at the first stop sign. So I didn’t. My actions didn’t go unnoticed by the local police, who let me know with flashing red and blue lights.
Silver lining: I didn’t blow through the sign doing 45 in a 35…or 25, as the case may be.
The officer said, “You failed to stop at the stop sign back there, ma’am.”
“May I see your license and proof of insurance?” I dutifully fished them out of my wallet, apologizing for my oversight.
He called it in, then returned to the car. “Can I see the registration?”
Uh. Okay. I fished it out of the glove compartment only to find it was the registration for the car I’d traded in in December to acquire the car I was driving.
The plates on the car were for the old car.
Oh, snap. Guess what I didn’t do. Transfer the plates and update the registration.
“You know you have 30 days to complete the transfer, right? When did you buy the car?” The week before Christmas. Double-snap. I was way past 30 days.
He returned to his patrol car, and I figured I’d need a second mortgage to pay the ticket that was coming. I felt humiliated and stupid. Mentally, I berated myself because “I’m smarter than this”. The officer was just doing his job – he was polite and nonjudgmental – but I wanted to disappear into the leather seats.
I glanced up through the moon roof and said, “I’d appreciate a little mercy, please.” There was no reason I deserved it, but I asked.
The officer returned and handed me a pink slip of paper. “I’m giving you a warning but you need to get the plates transferred over. I know there’s a license bureau across the street from your house, so I hope you get this taken care of in the next day or two.”
Now before you think I’m being stalked, I should point out that A) our town is not all that large; B) the police park daily in the vacant lot across the street from my house and wait for people to roll through the signs at the three-way stop (or blow through them all together, especially at night); and C) I don’t have the most inconspicuous car on the planet. I drove a white Corolla for about ten years. I now have a cobalt blue PT Cruiser with an iridescent flame job. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the same officer has seen me pull in and out of my driveway at various times of the day while on intersection duty. And yes, there’s a BMV across the street too.
So I was let go with a warning, but I couldn’t let go of feeling stupid. I felt like it was one more indicator of things that I simply couldn’t do right. I should know better.
When I walked over to the BMV later to remedy the situation, I had to do it not once, but twice because I forgot the memorandum of title on the new car. In my defense, I have never transferred plates before. I’ve always purchased cars under duress – meaning someone totaled my vehicle, or it gave up the ghost due to age, something like that. But again, I felt stupid. Like I should know this stuff. I walked back to the house to retrieve the missing document, eyes stinging with humiliation…
…that was of my own making. Both the situation, and my reaction to it. Yet, no one had berated me. I was my own worst judge in this case. Everyone was very kind. The woman at the BMV was cheerful and understanding.
So why am I displaying my embarrassment on the internet?
God is good at mercy. Other people can be good at mercy too. Sometimes we can’t cut ourselves a break, and sometimes we’re so caught up in our little messes and stresses, it’s easy to forget how big we’re blessed. And it’s a good reminder to show mercy to others when we have the chance.
And this is the stuff He uses to get our attention. With red and blue flashing lights.