You never start your day thinking you’ll pay your own bail by the end of it.
It all started normal enough. I am perpetually running late for things, so it isn’t all that rare to see me walking into a class five to thirty minutes behind schedule. I think it’s a trait I got from my mom, but that’s also just something I say to rest part of the blame on someone other than myself, which is undeserved, but it helps me sleep better at night.
So, in order to offset my tardiness, I always skateboard to school. Riding a skateboard on campus is the BYU equivalent of a scarlet A on your chest. It is a little like having a beard on campus without the possible justification of a beard card (although if a skateboard card existed, I can think of no candidate more in need of it than myself). But I run into a similar dilemma every day. I have a very weighty conscience; the kind of conscience that not only brings shame in the moment of disobedience, but holds to that shame long after the event has passed. So while I love skateboarding and being able to get to campus quickly, each kick to the pavement provides a simultaneous jolt to my conscience. As I weave through the crowds of watchful bystanders, I oft times contemplate my commitment to the principles of obedience and reprimand myself for giving in to my “natural man.” Probably not what most people expect a skateboarder is thinking about as they cruise by, but nonetheless, a truth in my life.
I had just turned in an essay for the David O. McKay Essay Contest (ironically, a religious essay contest), and was in a hurry to make it to my 2:00pm Calculus class. Turning to my faithful vice and friend, I jumped onto my skateboard and sped down the access street that connects the JSB to the JKB. As I rounded the corner to the JKB, I saw a figure that constitutes the embodiment of my conscience: a BYU Police Officer.
The instant I saw him, I knew my fate. I felt like a child covered in crumbs, debating between telling the complete truth or fabricating an elaborate lie about why eating the last of the cookies was not entirely my fault. I decided even before getting to him that I would tell the whole truth and be accountable for my actions. Without even motioning to me, I glided towards him, the John Proctor of skateboarding, ready to face the consequences for my speedy commute.
Me: Hello, Officer.
Officer: Hello, friend. You already know what I’m going to say, don’t you.
Me: I’m afraid so.
Officer: Do you know the rules about skateboarding?
Officer: Have you been warned before?
Officer: Do you skateboard on campus often still?
Me: Every day, sir.
Officer: Is there any reason I shouldn’t write you this ticket?
Me: Honestly, sir, not that I can justify.
I think my honesty caught him off guard. He was a kind man, and I could tell that he was conflicted about giving a ticket, the way another seasoned officer like himself probably wouldn’t be. He reluctantly started writing the ticket, making jokes and small talk in between his condemning pen strokes.
As he performed the routine background check, something changed. He whispered something in his walkie-talkie, and a minute later, just as I felt it was almost over, a police car pulled onto the sidewalk.
“Did you know there is a warrant out for your arrest for not appearing in traffic court?”
The words struck fear to my very core. It came back to me instantly, though the thought of the ticket had been erased from my memory entirely until that moment. My officer friend took me into his car and escorted me from campus to the police station to pay my bail.
Simple lesson: When you know something is wrong, don’t do it.