Monday, January 24, 2011

Lessons Learned the Hard Way.

If I haven't shared this already, I received a speeding ticket back in early December. I was driving 38 in what I thought was a 35, returning from my lunch break on a non-residential, non-school zone road only to be pulled over. I was so baffled I thought that he was just trying to get around me so I pulled to the side of the road - to which he honked and pointed to a parking lot. Still a little disoriented I pulled into the back of a Publix (grocery store) and rolled down my window.

Turns out that 35 mph road is actually a 25 mph road though I can't imagine why. In my mind the cop could have extended a little grace for a honest mistake but instead he wrote me a $191 ticket. Ouch. On top of that my insurance had just finally hit affordable when I turned 25 this year so I determined it would be worth traffic school to keep the points off my license and my insurance in the double instead of triple digits (oh Florida, you're so expensive).

After running a 5k on the 15th, I sat down with my laptop, paid my 15 bucks and started into the longest 4 hours of my life: online traffic school. The worst part was for the amount of material I had to cover I could have done it in about an hour but sadly, no, there are time constraints on how fast you can move so I spend probably 3 hours waiting on timers to tick down so I could move forward.

It got me thinking about how we have to learn hard lessons. We've all been told a few times about the unfairness of life but knowing life isn't fair doesn't take the sting away when the unfairness of life smacks us square across the face. I haven't ever shared this story before but now seems like a fitting time...

Sometimes in the course of doing the right thing, we are punished. Somewhere in the back of my mind I probably knew this growing up but it never hit me quite so hard as my senior year at Purdue. I could give you the whole long story but I'll spare you and make it reader's digest style. I had a teacher who had some pretty poor classroom ethics. He talked down to his students regularly, called them out in front of the class, even used words like 'stupid'. People like this, in my mind, shouldn't be teachers.

One day he was on a particularly harsh rant at a poor girl who was caught off guard by one of his question attacks. Her answer didn't meet his standards and he was really letting her have it in front of the class. Never one to sit back and witness an injustice, I of course, stood up to him. I will let people say a million mean things to my face but I can never resist defending someone who doesn't have the confidence to defend themselves.

I tried to remain as respectful as possible while still putting a quick halt on his verbal lashing before the poor girl cried in class...

Most of you are probably on my side here. You're probably thinking I did the nobel thing, right?Well, said nobel thing cost me my grade in that class and I spent the summer after what should have been my graduation, taking an online class to replace my poor grade. Cost me over 800 dollars to make up that class not to mention my first summer in the working world also involved an online class.

I was reliving that with my family over Christmas this year and I really combed through my mind and asked myself, if I knew it'd turn out this way, would I still do it? I essentially paid a high price for someone else's 'problem'. I've got to be honest with you, I'm really not that nice of a person. I'd describe myself as honest over nice any day. But I believe with all my heart that everyone should be encouraged within their learning environment and that teachers should desire to see their students succeed. I know that even if I'd seen clearly the outcome of that decision, I'd still have done what I did.

Unfortunately, nothing was ever done to right the wrongs. I was met with little surprise over my issue with that particular professor but I was still brushed off. I moved on with my life here in Florida and I righted my wrong grade with my own hard work. I think about that incident from time-to-time though and remind myself that sometimes doing the right thing will cost you dearly, but at the end of the day those defining moments make you who you are and I continue to strive to be the kind of person I can be proud of. Perhaps grace really is courage under pressure.


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