“Life comes at you fast.”

I remember that being the motto of Nationwide Insurance for years. Nationwide commercials always had something ridiculous happen to an actor – something so far-fetched you had to laugh and think to yourself, “that would never happen to me.” At least, that’s what I always thought to myself when watching those commercials. Until last night, that is.

For the record, nothing crazy happened to me like in a Nationwide commercial. On the contrary, something pretty common happened – I got pulled over for speeding. Now, this is the first time I have been pulled over. In all honesty, I drive like an elderly man most of the time. Generally, people on the interstate fly around my little hatchback and give me judgemental glances.

Last night, however, I was the guy flying around hatchbacks. I wasn’t really paying attention to my speed. In fact, I usually throw on my cruise control to stay within the speed limit. Yesterday was a long day, though, and I was ecstatic that the end of the day had finally arrived. I hopped on the interstate at 9 PM – the long stretch of road was virtually deserted. I was alone on the road with just myself and some good jams… and apparently the Rutherford County sheriff.

On a side-note, I am amazed by the technology officers use to catch people speeding. Honestly, the range radar guns possess is astonishing. I was barely upon the black police car before its bright blue lights started flashing like a someone was throwing a rave on top of the vehicle. Seriously, technology astounds me.

Back to the story, though. As soon as I saw the lights, I knew it was my time. I have never gotten to chat one-on-one with a sheriff. Guess I can finally cross that off my bucket list. I pulled to the side of the interstate, threw my car into park, and awaited my fate.

Another tangent, suspense is a weird emotion. I recall sitting in my parked car with no ability to keep still. I found myself unconsciously tapping the wheel. When I stopped tapping the wheel, my legs started bouncing. I forced my legs to relax, only to find my fingers once again tapping. Needless to say, the anticipation was intense.

So I got to meet the sheriff. Let me tell you, the man was a real nice guy. He came around to my window and looked at my guilty face with real pity. I can’t imagine what I looked like at the time, but I have a feeling my face looked similar to the look a deer gives to an oncoming car. I felt like I was waiting for the Grim Reaper to knock on my window, but the man was the farthest thing from death. In fact, the sheriff was surprisingly sympathetic – though this could have something to do with the profuse stream of apologies I offered him upon our meeting.

Then something astonishing happened. I don’t know if it was my inherent charm or my profuse fidgeting, but the sheriff let me off with a warning. He obviously gave me a lecture on safety and told me to quit acting like Speed Racer, but he bid me adieu and walked away.

What did I learn from the whole situation? First and foremost, I love the Rutherford County sheriff. Second, I need to slow down sometimes – literally and figuratively. In retrospect, I have no idea why I was going so fast. It was the end of the day, and I had nowhere to be. So what possessed me to travel at such a dangerous speed?

Now things are going to get deep. Hold on to your

Last night, I realized I drive like I live my life. I choose to travel at lightspeed without giving it a second thought. I move so fast, I forget to watch for important details, such as learning moments and potential dangers. I say things without thinking. I make jokes without considering who might be at the butt-end. I give little to no thought to financial responsibilities. I have a plethora of problems, all of which have to do with my choice of travel speed.

Here’s the thing: I think we all have a tendency to move too fast. I know for a fact I am not the only one with a need for speed. However, it is my responsibility to stop and think about who I might be endangering by moving too fast – including myself. Moreover, it might take someone else stopping me in my tracks for me to realize how fast I was going.

In essence, the Rutherford County sheriff taught me something beyond road safety – he taught me to check myself. The takeaway from the whole event is sometimes I need to slow down and think about what I am doing.

So I have learned my lesson. This time, I’m lucky it was just a warning.