What on Earth was I thinking?

Last night, while my wife and I were having family prayer, I felt an prompting deep within my soul. I recoiled in terror at the urging, because I knew that obedience would be a horrible mistake–one I’d regret for years to come. I felt the doom in my bones, all the way down to my very soul. And yet, I relented, and a wave of fear and sorrow washed over me as I uttered those fateful words:

“Dear Father, please help us to be humble.”

Today, at approximately 2:09 PM, I pulled out of the parking terrace in my office building en route to a doctor’s appointment. 50 feet later, and as I failed to come to a complete stop at the red light, one of the greatest streaks in the history of mankind came to an end: After 27 consecutive pull-overs without a citation, I got a ticket.

I know I’m not the only one with such a story, so let’s hear them.


  1. My husband blessed my first child with “a tireless desire to learn.” He didn’t sleep more than 4 hours at a stretch until he was 15 months old, and didn’t regularly sleep through the night until he was about 4.

  2. In their baby blessings, I specifically blessed my first two girls that they might be “without guile.” I’m amazed at how much this has been realized in their personalities and natural dispositions.

    I omitted that particular reference in my third daughter’s blessing. She’s similar to her older sisters in so many ways but I would never describe her as having a guileless personality. What was I thinking?

  3. Clark Herlin says:

    nice job :). If you can, please get the word out on my
    blog, TheDeseretRose.blogspot.com
    BCC is not ur personal adspace, ok thx bye.

  4. I often pray that I will be nice to other. It seems that when I do this that I get students coming to my office with sob stories. My years working in social services comes in handy quite a bit working at a community college. I have been wondering lately if our prayers are a way of preparing us.

    I do not pray to be humble in my family prayers. I worry this may encourage my wife to act as God’s messenger.

  5. I rear-ended a guy a week before Thanksgiving. Thankfully it was minor and he had no damage. Lost my car for a week for repairs though.

  6. Dave P,
    But where is the prayer?!? No divine presence, no points!

  7. After 27 consecutive pull-overs without a citation, I got a ticket.

    Impressive! You should not have prayed for humility so close to the end of the month *cough* quota *cough*. My streak is more like 10 pullovers without a ticket. My friends are amazed by this, but I have a simple routine that I attribute to my success. Here’s what I do when I see the flashing lights behind me:

    1. Pull over to the safest place you can find quickly. The cop will be angry if he has to follow you for a half a mile with his lights on, but a place where you’re blocking traffic or there’s no shoulder for him to stand safely won’t do you any favors either.

    2. Roll the window down, turn the engine off, turn the overhead lights on, and put both hands in plain view on the steering wheel. Once when a policeman rolled up on me and saw all this he said, “Ok, you’re either a cop or a convict, which is it?” I’m neither, by the way.

    3. If you know you were at fault, the first words out of your mouth are: “I’m sorry, I blew a stop sign/was doing 65 in a 55/[insert broken law here].” Lawyers will say never admit fault. But I think the reason I’ve gotten off so often is that the cops are so used to people arguing with them that when someone doesn’t it blows their minds.

    My mom got a ticket for rolling through a stop sign which she decided to fight when she noticed that the wording of the particular law she broke was “failure to regard a stop sign.” When the judge asked her to plead, she asked if she could say something first. The judge said yes, and she said if the law she broke was “failure to regard” then she’s not guilty, because she did “regard” the stop sign by slowing down, even though she didn’t come to a complete stop. The judge let her off.

  8. I once said out loud, “I’ve been humbled enough,” and followed with something resembling “I deserve to have things go well for a while.” I was about a month and a half away from leaving home for one of the best music schools in the U.S. After playing trumpet for a 24th of July celebration at the chapel, I was in a car accident involving two of mt parent’s cars, and my very nice/expensive/less-than-1-year-old silver trumpet was crushed and folded in half, like it was a kids toy. Since then I’ve tried not to be prideful (I’ve failed miserably) but I will never again challenge the Lord. Nor will I pray for humility, I don’t deal very well with being humbled. I seek the middle ground.

  9. Ben C.,
    Not only does that story break my heart, but it appears to be a direct rebuttal to dear Kristine’s recent assertion!

  10. After 27 consecutive pull-overs without a citation, I got a ticket.

    Which state are you in? I’m hardly a perfect driver, and I have only been pulled over perhaps four times in twenty years.

    Every time something moderately bad happens to me though, I tend to think, surely I deserve this, whether God is trying to humble me or not.

  11. Wow- I don’t think I’m dumb enough to pray for those things.

    Mark D.- I believe Southern CA. Scott- you must be in Orange County or something, since I never get pulled over in South Central! I’ve gotten pulled over a good amount in nicer areas of SoCal though! :)

  12. Merkat,
    It was right in Irvine where I work. Pulled out directly in front of a motorcycle officer. It wasn’t even a tough decision for him–I completely choked.

  13. Jennifer in GA says:

    For the past few years I’ve picked a word on January 1st that I want to focus on through the year. In 2009, I picked “challenge”. I told the Lord I was ready to ‘step it up a notch’, so to speak, and asked to be able to handle any challenges He sent my way.

    On Jan 5th, our house was hit by a microcell, taking off part of our roof and sending our trampoline through our fence and through two neighbor’s yards.

    On Jan 9th, I came down with Pneumonia. (All treatment paid for out-of-pocket because the deductible hadn’t been met yet.)

    A month later my daughter got pneumonia, putting her in the hospital.

    In April, because of doctor and home repair bills, our house went into foreclosure. We made an earlier withdrawl from our 401K and managed to get everything taken care of, but the stress almost killed me.

    The in-laws came to visit for four days in the summer, right as my car needed major repairs, including the air conditioning (and you *need* AC in south Georgia in July!).

    In August, I had a tooth abcess.

    By September my anxiety attacks (that had been at bay for years) had come roaring back with such a vengenance that I decided it was time for some medications. I was so happy to see 2009 go that I wept when it was over.

    For 2010, I didn’t pick a word.

  14. Oh Jennifer, glad you survived your year of living dangerously. One year we forgot to file our tax return so dh sent a letter listing all the things which had happened to distract us that year. He received this reply: Nobody could make that up. Please file.

    I won’t list, as we had not foolishly prayed for patience, though there was divine presence in abundance. We have never again asked, “what next?”, ’cause it’ll be something amazing.

  15. Cordeiro says:

    I’m going to have to second Mark D. here and echo the question 27 pullovers? Do you drive a fire engine red Ferrari in a neighborhood with sixty-seven school zones?

  16. There is a reason it is “one of the greatest streaks in the history of mankind.”

  17. John Mansfield says:

    The closest we’ve lived to my wife’s parents’ New Mexico home was three years in Los Angeles; the rest of the time we’ve been at least 1500 miles away. Last summer they began serving as missionaries and were assigned to our stake. Some have asked my wife what the procedure was for arranging this. It’s been a great thing having them close. The requirements on visiting relatives and friends and going where you want are pretty lax for the older missionaries, so we’ve spent a lot of time together. Their arrival was also somewhat timely, following a year and a couple months after the death of my father, who had spent his last seven years in our home.

    I’ve at times felt a bit paranoid about this gift, wondering what hardship is coming that will cause us or my in-laws to need the support of the other close at hand.

  18. Kristine says:

    John–tell your inlaws hello for me! And tell your m-i-l I just started taking violin lessons again :)

  19. I want to know how you get out of tickets. I have been pulled over maybe 4 times in my life. Three of them have resulted in tickets, one of them resulted in being insulted for 20 minutes by a cop.

  20. Indiana says:

    I made the mistake of asking the Lord to give me chances to start fulfilling a part of my patriarchal blessing at the same time as praying for a baby. Last Sunday I had an emotional breakdown because in addition to my calling in YW, I’ve been covering for a chronically sick/hypochondriac Seminary teacher for the past month and a half. The added stress came in the shape of half of my requests to teach for a week being presented to me at the last available minute of the three-hour block. For me job + job search + YW + seminary + growing a baby was just a little too much. I have learned when to ask the Lord and when to keep my mouth shut!

  21. Twenty-seven pull overs!?

    Did I read correctly that you’re a male? You’re a dude, right? What the… ?

    Do you have a fair look about you that bewitches both women AND men, like some sort of Dorian Gray? How exactly did you manage that feat of 27 straight?

    Maybe you’re really rich and you unfortunately left your wad with your jai alai cesta in your office next to the mahogany mantel that night.

    Either way, sorry about the ticket, but please contact the folks at Guinness World Records about your pull-over streak. The problem is that, fortunately for you, you won’t have any documentation of it. Curse you.

  22. Kevin Barney says:

    Droylsden, that’s a good method, but Scott’s streak has a different genesis, and involves flashing a little ankle…

  23. I had a YW leader who said that every time she prayed for patience, she got pregnant. After 5 kids, she quit praying for patience.

  24. Twenty-seven pull overs!?

    Did I read correctly that you’re a male? You’re a dude, right? What the… ?

    Yes, but he has amazing cleavage!

  25. I want to know how you get out of tickets. I have been pulled over maybe 4 times in my life. Three of them have resulted in tickets, one of them resulted in being insulted for 20 minutes by a cop.

    You should put a “Bad Cop, No Donut” sticker on your car. It’ll work wonders.

  26. Okay, I was tempted to tell this story on the recent ghost/spirit threads, but I resisted. I can resist no more.

    As a missionary in the MTC, I read once again how Nephi, believing the words of his father, asked to see the vision his father had seen. Thinking that was pretty cool that it was no sin for a faithful believer to ask for such spiritual manifestations, I decided to ask the Lord for something like that. So the next time we went to the temple, I asked. I told the Lord that I already believed, that I was demonstrating my faith by serving a mission, and that if it was His will, I wanted something cool like Nephi got.

    I felt like I got my answer immediately, and that it was “Sure. What is it you want?” Well, I had no idea. I hadn’t really thought it through. I decided I’d better not presume too much and told the Lord that I’d appreciate whatever He deigned appropriate for me, and left the temple in high spirits and great anticipation.

    That night I had the most vivid and powerful dream I’d ever had, and it involved an elder in another district. I woke in great distress and sat there trying to make sense of it. A feeling of anxiety and dread enveloped me, and I resolved I needed to check on this elder and make sure he was okay. Once resolved, I didn’t even bother to dress, but headed directly for this elder’s room. I apparently entered with enough energy to awaken them all immediately, but they all assured me nothing was wrong and asked if I was okay. No, I decided, I wasn’t okay, something was very wrong. And then I started to shake, and violently.

    It was really weird. I remember thinking that it couldn’t really be happening, and remember trying to make it stop, but I couldn’t. I just kept shaking. The other elders freaked out and ran to get the RM who served as our floor chaperone. He too was freaked out, and they all decided to give me a blessing to cast Satan out. I remember looking around at the eight or nine missionaries surrounding me thinking the whole situation was ridiculous, but the moment they cast Satan out, the shaking stopped.

    My feeling of dread and wrongness relaxed as well, but it wasn’t replaced with light and goodness. A Joseph Smith First Vision moment it wasn’t. It was more a What-the-hell-just-happened? sort of experience, and it scared the crap out of me. It made the sleep paralysis experiences I had later in life a lot scarier, too.

    Anyway, I’m open to the possibility the experience was physiological rather than spiritual, but I’ve decided to leave the intense stuff to Nephi. No, I don’t want to see any angels or see any visions. I’m not cut out for that. And when I pray, I stick to forgiveness and protection.

  27. UPDATE: a video of the events leading up to Scott’s recent ticket has been posted to the Internet. I think it explains a lot

  28. I want to know how you get out of tickets. I have been pulled over maybe 4 times in my life. Three of them have resulted in tickets, one of them resulted in being insulted for 20 minutes by a cop.

    Actually, it is nearly exactly the same as what Droylsden described:
    1. Have all papers ready and hands at 10-2, engine shut off, and window down before the officer gets to the car.
    2. The second you hear “Do you know why I pulled you over?” you say, calmly and directly, “Yes. I was going _waaaay_ too fast.”
    3. Then, and this is the really crucial part, you thank them for pulling you over. It has be sincere, because the goal here is to validate their decision in pulling you over, validate their existence, validate their authority. Thank them.

    The problem yesterday was that he didn’t ask me if I knew, so I couldn’t do my thang.

  29. 28 – while I imagine that works wonders in Cali, I can almost promise that it’s success rate would drop precipitously in Utah.

  30. B.Russ,
    One thing I failed to mention:
    Of the 27 consecutive non-ticketed encounters:
    3 were in Idaho
    24 were in Utah

    This was my first in California.

  31. StillConfused says:

    The few tickets I have actually gotten, I more than earned!

  32. John Mansfield says:

    I prefer paying for speeding using money over method #3 above.

  33. 30 – Alright, you had us all going but you pushed it too far. Now we know you’re lying.

  34. Dream On, Vickie.

  35. John Mansfield says:

    Scott, given your penchant for being pulled over, here’s a story you may enjoy, or perhaps not since it involves speeding, but not stopping. In the late summer of 2000, I was headed north on the Tonopah Highway about 50 miles out from Las Vegas. My speed was close to 90 mph when I noticed a highway patrol cruiser close behind, so close that my reaction was perfect calm. If he had wanted me, the lights would have been flashing already. Instead, he passed me and continued on at about 95 mph. My thought was “I love Nevada!”

    A little bit further, I headed south on Highway 373 a completely straight and empty road skirting east of Death Valley. For a few minutes I tested what the car’s limit was. About 110 mph. It’s a long time since I’ve been in a position like that.

  36. Hey John, driving back to Provo from Los Alamos there was this huge line of cars just before you start getting close to Moab. I was frustrated and when I came to a hill I decided to pass them all. I don’t know how fast I was going. The needle stopped at 120. Unfortunately along the way I passed a cop. Never got a ticket.

    Kock on wood…

  37. Kock on wood…


  38. John (35),
    The funny thing is, I’m not a speeder–you can ask anyone who has ever been in a car with me. I have a horrible sense of direction and a short attention span which causes me to make ill-advised turns and not realize that the speed limit has changed, and this has been the cause of 95% of the stops.

  39. Clark, you have ties to Lost Almost? I’m a native son. My family lived a few hundred yards from Sis. Mannfield’s family.

    In high school, I got caught in a huge line of cars coming down Pajarito road from LA to White Rock — somebody in front was going way too slow. As soon as I could see coming down the mesa (while still on the descent), I gunned it and passed 13 cars in one swoop. It was close. Reveling in my success, I looked back on that car that was slowing everybody down. It was my mom.

  40. Andrea R. says:

    I actually said this in a prayer as I was awaiting my mission call, “Lord, I’ll go wherever you want me to go, but I just can’t to to South America!” Mission call to Vina del Mar, Chile.

  41. Thomas Parkin says:

    “No, I don’t want to see any angels or see any visions. I’m not cut out for that.”

    Don’t be a chicken. Seriously.

  42. Michael says:

    My grandfather told the Bishop, “I’ll go anywhere except Canada.”

    Call came. Grandmother opened it. Said, “It’s Canada.” Grandfather said, “Well, maybe that will be okay, as long as it isn’t Alberta.”

    Oh, it was Alberta. Grandfather thought long and hard about it for a few days, then decided that as long as they weren’t going to Grand Prairie, it should be fine.

    When they got there, the mission president was sending them about an hour north of Grand Prairie. Grandfather packed the truck and was ready to head home. Grandmother asked him to sleep on it. Year and a half later, he cried most of the way back to Utah and claimed he was Canadian.

    My MTC companion got his mission call to Omaha, Nebraska. He wrote back to the missionary department and told them if he didn’t go on a foreign mission, he wasn’t going. After about a year in Manilla, he disappeared. Two years after that, he showed up back at his parents house, but he’d left a girlfriend and their two children behind. Stunning failure.

  43. Fletcher says:


    Main problem for you is that you were pulled over in a state/location that is strapped for cash. I hypothesize that the ratio of pull over to ticket writings approaches unity in a fiscal pinch. If there were data on this, I bet it would validate my hypothesis.

  44. Dave P. says:

    A bit late in my response to the reply earlier is my divine petition comes about from praying daily for safety in my travels, especially dealing with Utah drivers on Bangerter Highway.

  45. I prayed to notice opportunities to serve those around me. Within four days, I had a friend show up on my doorstep with the bruises her boyfriend had left on her needing to be talking into leaving him, a friend’s brother died unexpectedly, and my whole family got sick as a result of my giving help to someone else that was sick. I’m grateful I was able to do good in these situtions (especially the first), but I’d been thinking service in the kind of “watch your kids while you go to the doctor” kind of way, not “talk people through heartbreaking psychological scarring” kind of way.

  46. @ 35 and 36:
    I don’t think I’ll get any points for telling this since it doesn’t involve prayer – but as an 18 year old I managed to get a camaro ss up to 156 mph on a rural 2 lane road in Oklahoma without getting pulled over. Maybe my mom had been praying for me and that’s why I didn’t kill myself or anyone else?

  47. Wow, you guys. You’re all making me scared to say my prayers tonight :)

  48. Summer of 2001, I was 18, and I had been a baptized member fo the church for about 10 months or so. (I’d wanted to join for another 2 years prior to that.) I was saying a prayer and I got the strongest impression that I needed to pray about preparing to go to the temple.

    Wait, what?

    So I did, and I was further prompted that this wasn’t because I was about to be swept off my feet by the man of my dreams or something – I needed to talk to my bishop about getting endowed.

    It took me a couple weeks to work up the courage. He was all o.O when I told him, but thankfully he took me seriously. He then went to meet with the stake president about the matter. At first the SP was like “no friggin way,” but then they prayed about it together and apparently got the same knockout impression that I got. I was given permission, and I received my endowment 4 days after my 19th birthday, and a year and 4 days after I was baptized.

  49. Geoff-A says:

    Some years ago there was a young woman in the ward who didn’t have a father present, she would come to me for fathers blessings and advice. The day before her final exams in high school were to begin she came to me for a blessing, and I blessed her that she would remember everything she had studied as required (total recall). She crashed her car on the way home and was killed. I identified the body because her mother couldn’t.

    I am very careful what I say in blessings now.

    I got a ticket in Utah while doing 100+ on a sunday morning. The police man asked me what I was doing and I said I was just enjoying the car and the road. He was quite officious, sent me back 40 miles to pay the fine and told me he’d put out an all points alert if I wasn’t there in an hour. He was wearing garments and so was the person I paid the fine to.

  50. Not all coincidences are evidence of cause and effect. Some comments seem to need that reminder.

    (The God I know wouldn’t shorten the life of one of his daughters just because someone worded a blessing strangely. He is not that arbitrary, and you are not that important that he needs to teach you such a simple lesson so dramatically)

  51. Well, that just speaks volumes about the “God you know,” I guess. Pshaw!

  52. I got pulled over once near the end of what was probably the worst “travel day” of my life…

    Traveling with my wife and kids our day began in the AM. We missed the ferry that would take us to Seattle. Drove like a madman including four-wheeling over an embankment to get to a freeway exit that we desperately needed. Made it to the airport just in time to have our flight delayed. Arrived at the Denver airport after midnight where for reasons I still do not know we waited an exceedingly long time for our luggage. After the parking shuttle ordeal we were finally on our way home sometime around 2am. I wasn’t paying any attention to my speed when the police lights came on behind me.

    My sweet wife who knew how rough the day had been on me, uttered a quiet prayer. A sympathetic police office, probably noticing two tired children in the backseat, decided not to give me a citation for speeding.

  53. When I was young, a bunch of us drove down to Tijuana for a service project at a Catholic orphanage. On the way down (yes, near Irvine!) a cop pulled us over. He greeted the passenger, a nun in full habit, asked all about our mission, wished us well…then proceeded to write a speeding ticket!

  54. #42, was your MTC companion named Shaun, by any chance? I ask because I am estranged from my dad and his side of the family and I swear that I heard a story similar to yours about my cousin Shaun, who served in the Philippines.

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