Archive for the ‘Me’ Category

Just Turn Right

March 17, 2014

Right-Turn-Only-Traffic-Sign-K-1829I don’t normally publicize my own wrong-doings and misdeeds. What’s the point? I need to do it this time. This may seem trivial to some and possibly unnecessary to most. To me, this is important.

Friday I went to a church activity (I’m one of the leaders of the church I attend). During a break my wife and I were talking to a mother and her daughter in our congregation. You see, the daughter, “M,” and my daughter, Hannah, go to the same elementary school and we are quite close with her family. Each morning before work, I drop Hannah off at school. Last week “M” was volunteering as a student crossing guard. You know, the ones with the bright “STOP” signs on the wooden pole that walk out when students are crossing the street. During the conversation, I mentioned to “M” that I saw her but commented that she didn’t see me. Exasperated, she exclaimed that she did see me. She added that as I turned left out of the school parking lot, the adult crossing guard was “maaaaaad at me.”  I asked why, and she explained that the crossing guard was upset that I didn’t obey the “Right Turn Only” sign that was clearly posted. Confused and somewhat taken aback, I countered (I’m now arguing with an 11-year-old) “but tons of people turn left there, not just me….What did I do that was so much worse than what everybody else did?”  Her reply, was simple and piercing. “Nothing, she gets mad at everybody that turns left there.”  We bantered back and forth as I tried to explain and justify my defiance. My wife added there was even a recent plea in the school newsletter. In the end, I’m not sure how the conversation ended, but ever since it did, I have been unable to shake the guilt and remorse I feel.

First, I’ve been a poor example. I realized the poor example I was setting for “M” and all the other children when I  obey some laws and choose to break others. I magnified my poor example by my attempts to explain away my disobedience. That was not fair to her, and for that I apologize. Obedience to the law is mandatory, and nobody—especially me—is above that requirement. She was the example to me when I should have been to her. I’m sorry “M.”

If not for ourselves, we owe obedience to the driving laws (and other safety rules) to our children. I still remember the time my mom got a speeding ticket. Even though my mom was generally a good driver, this single experience justified my teenage choices to blatantly disobey speeding laws. “If mom can do it, why can’t I?” With every rule we parents choose to break, we justify our children’s future disobedience. We must demand obedience from ourselves today if we ever expect obedience from our children tomorrow.

Second, I’ve been a hypocrite. As a personal injury attorney, a safety advocate, and a community blogger, I preach adherence to safety rules, all of them. Whether related to speed, direction, following distance, impairment or distractions these rules are necessary to keep us safe and to protect us from harm. Me must follow them–there is no option or justification for disobedience. This applies even to the rules that “everybody breaks” or the laws that seem, to us, unimportant.

I shudder to imagine the potential consequences of my choices. Fortunately, the only effect was an embarrassing realization that I was a poor example to someone who looked up to me and a poor example to the adult who knew I should have acted more responsibly. Thankfully I can apologize to them and make more responsible driving choices in the future. Luckily my choice to disobey the law did not cause greater harm or injury to one of my daughter’s classmates. I couldn’t fix that result.

I’m happy to say that I turned right this morning. Thanks “M.”

Why I Love My Job

October 18, 2013

I normally don’t pat myself on the back. That is not my intention in writing this post. I hope the following is not perceived that way.

Earlier in my career, when I worked for big insurance companies, my “clients” were people accused of causing damage to another. I worked most closely with insurance representatives. My cases came to me because of relationships with insurance representatives. I authored status reports to insurance representatives. I marketed myself to insurance representatives. And I woke up the next day and did it all over again. My success or failure depended on my ability to improve the bottom line for insurance companies, whether by reducing the amount the insurance company had to pay the injured victim, or by reducing the amount the insurance company had to pay me. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t for me. I’m a people person, and I felt my strengths, especially my legal creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, were being under used, and went unappreciated.

As a personal injury attorney I help real people with their problems. Every day I come to work, I make a real difference in people’s lives.  I was cleaning out my desk this week and came across a letter I received a few months ago from “J”, a client I helped earlier this year.  J’s letter is below, with portions redacted due to a confidential settlement:

Client Letter

While such words are always nice to read, I can honestly say that far more important to me than the compliments J conveyed, was the opportunity to know her and her husband Bob. I came to love them both and attended Bob’s funeral when cancer finally got the most of him. At the service, J introduced me to her family as her “friend”; not her attorney. That meant so much to me. Soon after resolving J’s claim, she sent me three small candy airplanes–gifts for my kids. Wow.

My clients usually are completely involved in resolving their claims. I work with them. One-on-one.  Each day I get to help them with the thing in their life that is the most often one of the most important struggles with which each of them must deal.

That is a reason to wake up every morning.

That is job satisfaction.

Today, October 18, 2013, is my birthday. 33 years ago I came into this world kicking and screaming.  Toady, my wife and I are also wondering if it will be the day our daughter is born–no signs yet, but we’re close.  Next Tuesday at the latest.  This morning, for no other reason, one of my current clients called just to wish me Happy Birthday and to see if my daughter had been born. She wished me well on both accounts.

That is friendship.

That is why I love my job.

P.S. Just so I’m clear, I do not intend to insult my many friends who work at insurance companies or who work for insurance companies. Most of them are good people who love and enjoy their jobs–and for good reasons–it just wasn’t my thing.

Who Knew Grocery Shopping Could Be So Much Fun

October 3, 2013

If you read my blog, you know I focus on making our communities safer. Today, I’m going on a tangent. Today I’m focusing on making our lives happier and on not forgetting the “little things” in our lives that are actually the biggest and by far the most important things we will ever do.

If you know me personally, you know my wife, Melissa, is pregnant with our fourth child; a little girl due in just a couple of weeks.  Superwoman that she is, this pregnancy is sapping the energy from her body, sometimes like Kryptonite. She still manages to keep up the same loving and cheerful personality I fell in love with over fifteen years ago. but just doesn’t have the energy to do the things we’re both used to her doing.

Because I’m such an amazing husband (kidding), I’ve recently taken it upon myself to do more of the household chores–I even cleaned the bathrooms last week for the first time in, geeze, I don’t know 5 years (proof that I’m not as amazing as I think I am). Before she was pregnant, Melissa typically did all the grocery shopping when our older two children were at school and she only had Jaxon, our three-year old, to wrangle. Because of her pregnancy, I have done the grocery shopping for the past several weeks. On these days, my schedule typically looks like this:

6:00 a.m.    Wake up and run or workout

7:00 a.m.    Get ready and eat breakfast

8:00 a.m.    Take Caden and Hannah to school

8:30 a.m.    Go to work

5:00 p.m.    Come home

5:30 p.m.    Cook and/or eat dinner

6:00 p.m.    Do the dishes

6:30 p.m.    Respond to the e-mails I received since leaving work

7:00 p.m.    Get the kids in their PJs and brush their teeth

7:15 p.m.    Read scriptures as a family (we try to every night)

7:30 p.m.    Put the kids to bed

7:30 p.m.    Go to the grocery store

8:30 p.m.    Get home and put groceries away

9:00 p.m.    Drag myself upstairs to go to bed

JaxonYesterday I got home and Jaxon was a new definition of “tired three-year old.” He whined, argued, fought, and was downright intolerable during dinner. He had been this way for much of the day and Melissa’s patience was clearly gone.  I decided to take him to the grocery store with me. A little after 6:00 p.m., I asked him if he wanted to go to the grocery store with me. From that second on, his attitude changed completely. He ran up the stairs as quickly as his little legs would move him and got his socks on. He came back down so fast he almost fell down the last half of the stair case.  We went to get his shoes on and he was disappointed to see that he put his right sock on upside down, luckily we were able to avert disaster and flip it over so the heel was where the heel goes. We put his shoes on and opened the front door.

It was pouring. Not drizzling. Not sprinkling. Not even raining. It was pouring. We went in and got the umbrella. He held it while I tried to get the van doors opened and get him buckled in his car seat. He giggled when I had to close the umbrella and accidentally dumped all the rain water on my head. I laughed at the joy he found in my carelessness.

We talked all the way to the grocery store. We talked about preschool. We talked about the way the rain drops danced on his window as we drove. We talked about his soon-to-be-born baby sister, and what we should name her.  He liked “computer”, I told him that probably wouldn’t work.

At the store it was still raining. We parked in the closest spot to the door, in the back of the parking lot some 500 feet from the door. I knew there were a lot of groceries on my list and didn’t want to carry a wet umbrella in my shopping cart, so we left it in the car and agreed to race to the front door. We got out and ran. He was sidetracked by the puddles and splashed in each one along the way. I kid you not, he didn’t miss a single puddle.

Once inside, we wiped the rain from our brows and got about our work. He rode in the front seat and talked the entire time we were there. He wanted everything we passed, literally everything. Whether it was broccoli or bubble gum, barbecue sauce or honey. He wanted it and was committed to telling me everything we had run out of or needed more of. I relented and told him he could pick out and buy one thing in the whole store. He chose, almost immediately, fruit roll ups. I think he played me because he knew exactly what he wanted and we were nowhere near the fruit roll ups at the time. Regardless, a deal is a deal and he picked “the red ones.” He was great the entire time we were shopping. A couple of times he asked me to “go real fast,”so I did, only for a few short steps, but he laughed and giggled. Even the old woman looking at magazines couldn’t help but smile at him.

When we were checking out, he wanted to help me bag the groceries. He hopped out and ran to push the button that brought the groceries down the conveyor belt so I could put them in plastic bags. He bragged to the little two-year old girl in the cart next to us–“My daddy lets me push the button.” The cart was all filled with groceries, so he held on to the handle and stood on the bottom.  I held his hands, making sure he didn’t fall, and we went outside.

As we went out the door, we went over the small bumps on the edge of the sidewalk and the parking lot. “That’s my favorite part daddy.”  As soon as we were through that, he wanted me to run again. I couldn’t help myself. I ran through the parking lot, pushing him and our groceries through the rain. As we neared the car, he hopped off and started running. I had to stop him to remind him not to run in parking lots.  Clearly confused, he asked, “But Daddy you runned.” He was right, so we had a little lesson on runner height and driver line of sight. I don’t think he understood.

We made another stop at a nearby department store–we needed ink for our printer. By now the rain had stopped, he pulled his jacket down on his arms a bit and started flapping “his wings.” He wanted me to fly with him. We flew the rest of the way into the store.

Knowing this was to be a quick stop, we walked instead of getting a cart. Jaxon reached for my hand, but I still had my car keys in that hand. He held my finger. A few steps later he asked me to put my keys in my pocket so he “could hold [my] whole hand.” I obliged and we walked through the store and got what we needed. When I knelt to figure out which ink cartridge I needed off the bottom shelf, he sat on my knee. After making our purchases, we flew back to the car.

On the way home, we stopped at Wendy’s for a $.99 Frosty. He wanted to get one for Caden and Hannah to take home but I told him they would be okay and reminded him they were probably in bed anyway. He liked knowing he was bigger than they were, even for an evening. He was having a hard time sitting on his chair and reaching his Frosty. He wondered if he could sit on my lap so he could reach better. After the evening we had, how could I say “no?”

We finished and drove home. Just two hours after our journey began, he went up to tell Melissa about our night. He whispered in her ear that we got ice cream and quickly got ready for bed.

It was, hands down, the best night I’ve had in months. I cannot imagine doing something more fun and will forever remember the things we did.

Don’t forget the little things. They’re always the most important.

Do Your Kids Know What to Do?

September 10, 2013

house-fire-01

Every Monday night, my wife and I gather our kids together for a night we call “Family Home Evening.”  Essentially, because we know our lives are too chaotic and way too busy we set aside Monday nights as family time. We often have short lessons to help our kids grow into better people, play games, or talk about important issues affecting our family or our community.

One Monday, about a year ago, my wife and I decided to have a fire drill of sorts. In the middle of our Family Home Evening, without any warning to our kids, we turned on the fire alarm. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! It didn’t stop. The piercing noise was loud and frightened our kids more than I had expected. Soon, after we were able to calm them, we helped our kids to know what to do and where to go if there ever was a real fire.  We practiced a few times and eventually they seemed to feel comfortable with the plan. Their initial chaotic and panicked response turned to reasoned and orderly determination.  I was so happy we took just a few moments to plan and prepare them for something I hope never happens.  That was over a year ago.

Yesterday, I was watching the news before dinner and saw this  segment on KGW News Channel 8: Family Escapes Forest Grove Fire. To sum up the story, a refrigerator caught fire in the garage and burned into the attic. The mother and her four children were able to escape the home and met at the mailbox across the street–just like they had practiced several times before. Proper planning may have saved the lives of any of these young children.

Did you know that each year over 4,000 people die in house fires each year.  Over 500,000 residential house fires are reported each year to fire departments across the country. On average, that’s over 10,000 house fires per state!

My kids are young. Caden is 8, Hannah is 5. Jaxon is only 3.  He probably doesn’t even remember the night we practiced the fire escape plan. We’re probably due for a refresher course. It’ll be good for them (a small part of me wants to see the look of terror on their faces again) and good for us as a family. I’d urge you, especially if you have young children, to make a family escape plan, and make sure everybody knows what to do and where to go if there is a fire in your house. It doesn’t take but an hour or so one evening, and its good quality family time–missing Monday Night Football won’t hurt too badly. I promise.

Hopefully you’ll never need it. But if you do, you can thank me later.

Love you Joey

May 28, 2013

Image

Last week my brother Joey came to visit with his girlfriend. We had a great time together hiking the Gorge, walking the beach (above), and exploring the Ape Caves. We enjoyed each other’s company and even talked to each other like adults after dinners. These are good memories that I will forever cherish and remember.

It wasn’t always like this between him and I. Before I went to law school, before I had kids, before I left Utah for the great Northwest, and before I got married, we tolerated each other growing up. We weren’t really close, much less friends, before he had kids, and before he served our country in Iraq (Happy Memorial Day buddy and here’s to you and SSGT James Cawley). In fact, growing up we  were downright enemies most of the time. I’m eternally grateful that changed.

I’m the big brother. Being the big brother comes with certain, shall we say, “responsibilities”. When we were younger, say 5 and 3 respectively, I had a devilish desire to get  him in trouble, on purpose, because it was fun. And boy was I good at it–or so I thought. One day I wrote “JOEY” in crayon on the closet door of our bedroom. This was sure to work. Why would I, Scott, write “JOEY”, if it was me, I’d write “SCOTT”? Only thing, in all my infinite wisdom, I failed to understand that because Joey was only three, and not yet able to write, I was destined to be discovered as the author of the scrawl.

She knew, of course She knew. How couldn’t She? She knew just as surely as this mom knew:

Red-Crayon-Fault

I, of course, was in trouble.  My cleverness and ingenuity got the best of me and this wasn’t the last time it did so.

It couldn’t have been a few months later. Back in those days, nobody really used child car seats or booster seats for their toddlers. Our mom was trying to teach my brother to keep his seat belt on while we were driving. When he took it off, he got in trouble. It only took witnessing this once or twice to ignite my older brother “responsibilities.” Slowly, cautiously, I reached across the back seat and unbuckled his seat belt. “Mom…Joey took his seat belt off again.” She pulled the car over, slapped his hand, buckled him up again, and continued down the road. This was brilliant, even better than my rookie crayon fiasco. Emboldened, I did it again. “Mom…Joey took his seat belt off again.”  With more consternation and determination, She pulled the car over, slapped his hand, buckled him up again, and continued down the road.  Giddy, I did it again. “Mom…Joey took his seat belt off again.” Dismayed, She pulled the car over, slapped his hand, buckled him up again, continued down the road, and adjusted her rear view mirror. Unaware, of the prying eyes watching me from the driver’s seat, I boldly did it again. “Mom…Joey took his seat belt off again.” Silence. Abhorrence. She couldn’t do anything, for if She did, she would have killed me. No doubt. Eventually she calmed. My punishment, for the next I can’t remember how long, was punishment for every bad thing Joey did. Looking back, this was absolutely appropriate and clever.

Today, children have car seats, and booster seats, and seat belts.  We have laws that require that such devices be used to keep our children safe. In Washington, the laws are clear and straight forward:

  • When “practical to do so”, children under 13 years of age MUST ride in the back seat positions in the vehicle (RCW 46.61.687(c));
  • Once a child turns 8 or reaches the height of 4′ 9″ he or she MAY use the vehicle safety belt system (RCW 46.61.687(a));
  • Until a child reaches the age of 8 or the height of 4′ 9″ he or she MUST be restrained in a child restraint system that “complies with standards of the US Department of Transportation” and is “secured in the vehicle in accordance with instructions of the vehicle manufacturer and the child restraint system manufacturer” (RCW 46.61.687(a));
  • Children should be kept in each restraint type (rear-facing car seat, forward-facing car seat, and booster seats), “for as long as possible before moving them up to the next type of seat.”

Bottom line, let’s keep our kids as safe as possible by properly restraining them in our vehicles. Gone are the days of holding a child in your arms while in a moving car–man I hope no one still does this.

Looking back, it’s a miracle my generation survived despite the lack of proper restraint systems. More miraculous, is that my brother survived despite my ill-conceived attempts to get him in trouble. I’m glad he did. We have a lot of good memories to make while raising our own kids, and some day, our grand kids. These generations of memories could have been lost in a moment because we weren’t properly restrained. I would never have been able to live with myself if my carelessness…I can’t even say it.

Keep your kids safe. Buckle them up.

“Make Safe” Enters the World of the Blog

April 27, 2013

Something you should know.  I’m a personal injury attorney practicing in Vancouver, Washington.  If you were not completely put off by this, you should know that I’m also a husband to my amazing wife, Melissa, and a proud father to our three children.  Together, Melissa and I have chosen to make Vancouver our home as we try to raise our children in this crazy mixed-up world that is so different from the world in which we were raised.

Professionally, I’ve devoted my legal practice to getting fair compensation for clients injured by the carelessness of others.  I do my best to keep up-to-date on important legislation that could affect the rights of my past, present, and future clients–and my own friends and family.  In this professional role I have a unique bird’s-eye perspective of the common “rule violations” that cause injury and harm in our communities.  For the past few years I have often thought about writing a blog–I love to write; but, what interesting material could I bring to an internet already filled with blogs read by nobody but their author?  Then I knew.

Who knows how this will evolve?  I sure don’t.  But, in the infancy of Make Safe, I plan to write about issues and problems to make our  streets, our schools, our public spaces, and even our homes safer for our children.  I’ll write generally (no names or specifics) about issues presented by my own clients.  I’ll write about important legislation that will endanger us; or make our world safer.  I’ll write about important and far-reaching Washington  Supreme Court and Court of Appeals cases that change the “rules” of the game we all play.  Using these issue generators, I’ll try to move us all toward action and toward a safer community.  I’ll do my part to “Make Safe” Vancouver and urge you to do so as well.

I hope for this blog to be a place to convey information and perspective.  I hope it will be a sounding board from which I can be heard not only in our community, but in yours, and theirs.  I hope for it to be a place for you to look, search, and learn about what you can do to make our community a safer place to raise our children.

As I begin to “Make Safe” our community I invite you to share your thoughts and opinions.  Ask questions.  Present issues.  Reply.  I’m only one guy.  My network is only so big.  There are countless numbers of you.  Your networks literally cover the globe.  I encourage you to share Make Safe with your own networks–let’s see how far we can reach.  I look forward to taking this journey with you.


%d bloggers like this: