We’ll never forget the week between Christmas and New Year’s. We had days, in a row, where the temperature didn’t make it over zero. I mean we had day-time highs of -4. As it always does, when you’re in the middle of these, it just seems like it’s never going to end.
One of those days, when the high temperature was well below zero, and the wind was really whipping … I had a flat tire. Not in the driveway or garage. That would have been too easy. I was on the way home. It was in a 25 mile-an-hour zone, and I felt the tire go flat … that jerking motion of the steering wheel, and then I could hear it. Anyone who has driven with a flat time knows that sound … I was only a half-mile or so away from the Tire Company where I had bought the tires, so I tried to make it. I tried. It didn’t take long to realize that I wasn’t going to make it without losing the tire. In no time, the rim was scraping the ice and sand covered pavement. Anyone who has heard that sound has also felt that helpless feeling that the only place you’re going to make it to, is the side of the road. Yet … and you know what I mean … it was -4, the wind was 40 miles an hour, and, well, being stranded on the side of the road just didn’t seem like an option … I had to try to make it to the Tire Company! Even if it meant pulling in on “all rim.”
Well … the tire and rim was making a terrible noise … and, that’s when I saw the Blue Lights in my rear-view mirror. It was our City Police! I wasn’t going to make it to the Tire Company! Never mind what I said!
It turned out to be a great blessing. The Policeman was one of the nicest, kindest men I’ve ever met. For safety reasons, he had pulled me over. Here’s what he did:
In the freezing, freezing cold, he asked me if I had a jack, and we’d try to change the tire. We found the jack. Those of you who have a truck know about the jack. It’s placed underneath the back seat (a club cab) in a compartment. And, you’re right: They must place the jack and accessories in that small compartment … and then build the truck around it. Tight fit! Don’t worry, I wasn’t able to put it back correctly, either! As an old-time, independent do-it-yourselfer, I was ashamed of the fact that I had to look in the Owner’s Manual to even find out where the jack was. Good ’ol AAA! I must have known at one time, when I first read the manual, but that was a while ago, and I’ve got AAA! Anyway, part of the jack handle is used to “uncrank” the spare time from its holding cell, underneath the truck bed. It’s not really a “holding cell,” just chains, to slowly let down the tire, as you twist the jack handle around and around.
At least, that’s how it goes in the manual. As we said, the spare tire isn’t really covered, under there. It’s completely exposed to the elements of rain, ice, snow, salt, and more rain, ice, snow and salt. What condition do you think the chains and pulley were in? I guess … if you kept your truck in a garage … and, only drove it in 100% dry conditions … not even allowing exposure to dew … this idea of putting the spare under there, uncovered, is a good idea. But, that would be the only way that could be a good idea. Needless to say, the spare tire wouldn’t budge. The Policeman tried multiple times (he had some really good gloves) to get it to drop, but it just wouldn’t. At first, we’d go back to the manual, making sure we were doing it correctly, but it wouldn’t budge. The Policeman said it was probably rusted, and would probably have to be “torched” out. Of course, he was right, and, when I did get the truck towed in, they had to use a torch to remove the spare tire. The chains had all rusted out, and the tire was, literally, welded to the underneath of the truck bed.
So, we couldn’t change the tire, and I would have to call AAA to get the truck towed. The Officer gave me a ride home. I got to ride in the front seat! Near the heater! I will never forget this act of kindness from our local Police Department. I thought of the tremendous responsibility Police Officers have. See, this Police Officer, in a way, was like we as Christians are. We represent our faith, and for those who “run into us” along the way, to them, we represent all Christians. This particular Police Officer was not only an example of our local Police, but an example, to me, of all Police Officers. He was so nice, so caring, and so willing to do everything he could to help me. Yes … he was doing his job (a job, by the way, a lot of us are unwilling to do) … by pulling me over, as I was definitely a safety hazard. But, once he stepped out of his Cruiser, he became much more. Much, much more. As, he did much, much more than “his call of duty.” It’s so easy to say he is a credit to his job, his profession, and our city. Well, if it’s so easy to say … why haven’t I written that letter to the Police Chief? It’s long time I did. As the writer of “Wealth Stored for the Righteous,” in which I write of so many blessings we enjoy every day, and, so often take for granted … have I just discovered another blessing we so easily take for granted? I know that, on this day, this one Police Officer, in below-zero temperatures and a howling wind, would not leave me stranded … would not leave me “out there alone.” Without hesitation, he asked me where the jack was. Without hesitation, he worked and worked, in that brutal weather, trying to get that spare tire down. Without hesitation, he gave me a ride home, and let me sit up front. Near the heater. Without hesitation, he asked if there was anything else I needed.
The only thing I needed, on that day, at that time, was to thank him.
Which I did, and, am attempting to do now. Again, to me, he exemplified not just our local Policemen, but all Police Officers.
As I think back to that cold, miserable day … Ok, I’ll say it, because it’s true … as I look back, I am reminded of something else I am grateful for … something that I don’t thank God for, enough. It’s something that I heard a Christian Brother say as part of a testimony: “I’m not the man I want to be, or am going to be, but I thank God that I’m not the man I used to be.” That’s powerful, and something else I think we take for granted so many times. I’m so glad, so thankful, that when he pulled me over, “I had nothing to hide.” That, alone, is a great feeling, And, a tremendous blessing. Again, think about that statement just a moment. How God has done a great work in us, to change us. Perhaps never is that more evident than when we are dealing with Police Officers. And … I’ll say it … When they are dealing with us. It’s just different, in such a great way. Again, allow me to let that sink in for a moment. God changes us for our benefit, so our lives will be better. And, ready for this … think about it … it makes their life better, too! Think about that.
How many times have we seen on a television show (or maybe even thought ourselves), the person who gets pulled over says something like, “Why are you bothering me, instead of trying to catch criminals?” Let’s just say that, on this day, I am so glad that this Police Officer was right behind me, stopping me, and, yes, blessing me, instead of … being anywhere else.
Often, when I write, I use the term “You just can’t make this stuff up.”
I’ve battled with whether I should mention the Officer’s name. I’m a private person, and I don’t wish to invade anyone else’s privacy. I believe it’s the right thing to do, in this case, to mention, at least the last name of this “Blessing with a Badge.” A man who reminded me that, just as he represents, to me, all Police Officers, that we as Christians also represent “all of us,” a “Royal Priesthood,” at any given time we deal with others. There is that saying that “we may be the only Jesus someone may see.” If we meet a Police Officer, that, too, in a similar way, may be the only Police Officer we may ever meet, and, we may base our whole opinion of the entire “group” just on that one Police Officer. In one case … shall we say this one “cold” case … I’m ok with that. Here goes:
The Police Officer’s last name, who reminded me of my own walk … his last name was:
That cold, miserable day, I was so thankful to have Officer Priest in the Hood.
Richard. Vincent. Rose.