Friday, September 25, 2015

Dear FHP

Dear Officer from Florida Highway Patrol, 

First off, praise God for our police officers. You people in uniform have chosen a career that protects people. You have willingly chosen to go to work every morning knowing you may not come home, and for that I thank you. You are brave and selfless, and I'm grateful there are men and women out there who sacrifice their lives for others like your profession does. 

On Thursday, September 24th at 5 am, you were called to a scene of a wreck that involved my car, and my car only.

I woke up that morning at 4 am and was heading to Mayo Clinic for clinicals for nursing school. 

During the pouring rain, as I was driving on the Dames Point Bridge, my car hydroplaned, starting spinning, and threw me towards the water. In that moment I thought, "I'm going to drown. I'm going to die today." By the grace of God (who calls me to love you despite your actions), I hit the guard rail and my car spun back the other way to the opposite guard rail. I hit that guard rail and after spinning a couple more times I stopped in the middle of the three lanes. When I stopped I started sobbing. It was definitely the scariest moment of my life. I drove the rest of the way off the bridge down to the shoulder. 

That day I felt fear like I never knew was possible. I was confronted with the thought that I was going to lose my life at the age of 22, by what I feel is one of the worst ways possible to do so.

My parents called highway patrol and you arrived 40 minutes later. I was calm when you arrived because I felt safe by the fact that an officer was there. From there it was downhill.

It was still raining. It was apparent by the look on your face and by your actions that you felt this was nothing more than an inconvenience to you. When I rolled down my window you didn't bother to ask if I was injured or if I was okay, you immediately asked if I had looked at the damages. I hadn't because it was dark outside and still raining and I was trying to stay as dry as possible since I had to be at the hospital for the next 12 hours. 

You asked me to get out so I did. You asked about the wreck and which side I hit first. When I said the right you gave me a look like I didn't know what I was talking about, and after examining my car again, you said, "You're probably right." (Of course I was right, I was the one who experienced it.)

Before you left you chastised me for driving 55 miles per hour (the speed limit was 65). You also informed me that I needed to be careful because "when it rains the roads get wet." Now I understand I don't yet have a college degree, but I am intelligent enough to understand the very complicated fact that when it rains the roads, do in fact, get wet. Sir, you don't deserve to talk down to people just because you've been inconvenienced or because they are younger than you.   

You gave me a ticket for $114 for unsafe driving conditions. I didn't cause anyone else to wreck. I wasn't on my cell phone. And I wasn't distracted. My car simply hydroplaned because this particular bridge isn't in the best condition to handle cars during the rain. This was a ticket based on the fact that I knew the tread on my tires wasn't so great. I would imagine that if you stopped 10 people and looked at all their tires, at least five of those people have bad tires. 

This is the thing. I'm a 22 year old single mom. I have the most handsome blue-eyed son, whom I adore more than life itself. (He almost lost his mommy that morning.) I had him at 18 and despite all the odds, he has a great life. I graduated from high school a month after he was born, and immediately started a full-time job during the day, while I took online classes at night. I got into nursing school and I'll graduate in less than three months. (If you didn't know, less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree by the age of 30. I'm about to become a radical statistic. I've worked my butt off for this.) I send him to a private pre-school because it's what is best for him, even though it cost me a lot of money (My $114 would have almost paid for next month's tuition). I'm working my hardest to provide a fantastic life for him. 

I wish so badly that I had a life that allows me to go buy a set of tires when the tread is getting bad. One day I will have that. One day I will be able to buy a set of tires at the drop of the hat without the faintest worry of how I'm going to pay for the other things in my life. But that day is not today, nor was it Thursday morning. 

When you handed me my ticket AND I knew I'd either have to pay the damage on my car or replace it, my heart sank. Because to you, $114 may not be that much. But to me that's a great deal of money. I'm already worried about how I'll come up with the money for a new car if the insurance declares my vehicle as totaled. 

But in the end, it's not even about the money. It's about your lack of compassion. Because in a moment where I needed a lot of compassion, you were condescending. You didn't once stop to ask if I was alright. You spoke to me as if I was stupid. You also acted as if the wreck was my fault and I needed to be punished. I was punished the moment my car hydroplaned towards the water. If you were trying to teach me a lesson, I learned it. But not with your rude speech or your condescending attitude. I learned it as I prayed God would spare my life. I was scared out of my mind, and I was met with an officer who didn't show an ounce of compassion. You had the opportunity to make me feel complete respect for your profession and you didn't take it. 

You see.. Everyone has a story. You would benefit greatly to know other's stories before you act as if you are better than them. 

I work in a field full of compassionate people. Health care and compassion go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other. 

Sometimes my patients are going through things that happened to them completely through no fault of their own. They have lung cancer, but never smoked. They had a heart attack but are in great shape. They have hepatitis, but they got it from a needle stick they acquired while taking care of someone else. 

But sometimes, my patients have issues that they've caused on their own. Some have cancer that was caused by their smoking. Some have aids because they are in prostitution. I personally choose to care for them the same way I would care for anyone else. Because we're not perfect, and we all still deserve compassion. You don't have to like or agree with someones choices to be compassionate.

I understand you deal with criminals - people that you have to be firm and tough with. However, I am not a criminal, and I did not do anything illegal. I've never even gotten a speeding ticket. I deserved more sensitivity and understanding than you showed me that morning. 

I don't choose to write this letter to be condescending to you. In fact, you may never even see it. You may have lost a family member Wednesday, or maybe you just found out you're losing your home. I pray that is not the case. Hopefully the reason you were rude and unsympathetic was just because you were inconvenienced, not because something terrible happened to you this week. I still think the world of police officers. I do not wish any ill to fall on you, but I do wish you learned a little compassion. 

Because Thursday morning it was me who was almost thrown off the bridge. But what if it was your mom, your wife, your daughter? I don't know you, but I imagine you would've wanted an officer to at least say, "Are you alright?" in that moment. "Treat others how you would want to be treated." We say it a lot, but we need to live it more. 

So sir, I hope your Thursday got better. Mine sure did. I got to go take care of patients at the hospital, come home to my family, tell my son I love him, and I got to live to see another day. So as you continue to do your job, I advise you to show some compassion. Try to understand that every person has a story that you may know nothing about, and it would be wise to try to see a person as more than just an inconvenience.


  1. How scary!!! I can't believe you got a ticket????

  2. I'm so sorry this happened to you, and that you weren't met with compassion and understanding! How frustrating and upsetting!

  3. I'm thankful you're alive and well!! I'm sorry you had to be on the receiving end of an officer's hard hearted insensitivity. :( I'm linking to this post from my blog on Friday.

    Btw: congratulations on your educational and life achievements. My best friend is a single Mom of 2. Single mothers amaze me with their grit and strength. You have the most difficult yet most rewarding job in the world.

  4. Oh, Carrington, I so feel your heart in this. How scary that must have been! My car being thrown off a bridge during an accident or natural disaster is my absolute worst nightmare, and I can't believe that you almost experienced that. I am so very glad that you're okay. This letter was beautifully written and I hope that someone from the Florida Highway Patrol reads it. It's something we all need to read. Thank you for sharing your heart in this message. Again, I'm so glad you're okay. I'm praying for your finances and for your car situation! Much love to you!

  5. I read this when you talked about it on Peony Project. Knowing the outcome, I am so happy for you and the reminder you received through the faith and love of others that God does provide. And I am so glad you are okay and that your baby is safe too and wasn't in the car!