Posts Tagged ‘Family’

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.”

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Please, Please, Please Don’t Drink and Drive

October 1, 2013

Dont-Drink-DriveEach month I author a safety column in the Vancouver Family Magazine. Vancouver Family Magazine is a locally produced publication who’s mission is “to strengthen a sense of community by providing Clark County families with comprehensive and locally based resources and information regarding parenting, education, news, community events and personalities, recreation, and more.” A couple of weeks ago, I submitted my contribution to the October issue, entitled “One Drunk Driver“.

In the column I shared recent statistics about those killed as a result of drunk driving. I won’t reiterate those numbers here, (read the article in Vancouver Family Magazine if you’re interested) but will repeat only that in 2011, drunk drivers killed 1,612 friends and family members–passengers inside the drunk’s own car.

That was two weeks ago. This last weekend, there was a single car crash that seems directly related to drunk driving. Sunday evening, around 8:30 p.m., Kenneth Jones was driving east from Vancouver toward Camas when his “vehicle left the roadway about a mile west of the 164th Avenue exit…went down an embankment, hit several large rocks and overturned, landing on its top.” The passenger in his car, Daniel Alexander of Vancouver, was pronounced dead at the scene.

How tragic.

How unfortunate.

How senseless.

Having lost a loved one in a motor vehicle crash myself, the loss is agonizing and forever. I feel for Mr. Alexander’s family and understand the grief and pain they are surely trying to deal with right now.  Whatever struggles and demons Mr. Jones may have endured before Sunday night, he must now add the guilt associated with choosing to drive while intoxicated and thereby taking the life of his friend or family member. I do not have the imagination necessary to calculate the weight of that burden.

As I stated in an earlier post, these crashes are not accidents. They are the final and permanent result of an irrational choice to break rules designed to keep everybody safe.  Please, please, please don’t drink and drive.

Do Your Kids Know What to Do?

September 10, 2013

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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.

You’re Having Papa Murphy’s Pizza for Dinner Tomorrow Night

July 23, 2013

I bet you didn’t know you were going to eat Papa Murphy’s pizza for dinner tomorrow night.  Read below to find out why.

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If you live anywhere near Battle Ground, Washington,  you have probably heard of the nightmare that is Justin Carey’s reality.  On June 10, 2013, like so many days before, 16-year old Justin woke up, got ready, and went to catch the bus for school.  As he waited, Shaun Johnson, for reasons yet unknown, recklessly drove her Nissan Maxima directly into Justin.  The force of the collision thrust Justin over 150 through the air before coming to a rest in nearby bushes.  He laid on the ground, dying and unable to move, for over an hour and a half while officers and deputies investigated the scene and interviewed with Ms. Johnson.  He was too weak to get their attention, and he was becoming weaker by the minute as blood seeped from his body.  It was only when a tow truck operator was preparing Ms. Johnson’s vehicle to be towed from the scene that Justin’s faint pleas for help were heard and his prayers answered.

Emergency responders arrived quickly and rushed Justin to the hospital.  The impact broke both of Justin’s femur bones and severed both of his femoral arteries.  Ultimately, doctors had no choice but to remove the lower part of his right leg.  Miraculously, after more than a month in the hospital, Justin is now home and adapting to  life without his leg.   He’s acknowledged that his career goal of being in the military no longer seems possible but he hopes “something good is going to come out of it.”

As a personal injury attorney, I have a small understanding of the impact this will have on Justin’s life for years to come.  I’ve followed Justin’s story and am amazed by the tremendous show of support here in Southwest Washington.  Home Depot for example offered time and materials to build a wheelchair ramp at Justin’s house.  Local restaurant, South Pacific Cafe and Lounge hosted a fundraiser to pay for a prosthetic leg.  Community donations have poured in to help the family.  These undoubtedly will help Justin and his family deal with his mounting medical bills.  I know enough however to know that the donations will cover just the tip of the medical-bill iceberg that has accrued.  Justin’s medical bills undoubtedly total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Papa Murphy’s CEO, Ken Calwell, has graciously offered to donate to Justin’s medical fund 20 percent of the proceeds from all pizzas sold in Clark County between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday July 24, 2013.  We all need to eat.  It’s too hot to cook anyway.  What better way to show our support for Justin and his family (and Papa Murphy’s) by having pizza tomorrow night.  Share this opportunity with your friends, and invite them to share it with their friends.  Let’s pull together as a community and show our support for Justin and his family.


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