Friday, September 17, 2004

Doing the Right Thing?

I was a pretty good student. Mostly A’s in all my academic classes.
In grade 9, I was locker partners with Jean-Anne Kurtenquacker, who had Science in B block with the same teacher as I, who had it in C block. At lunch one day, as she was taking her bag out of the locker, she asked two of us from C block if we were ready for the test. “I just had it,” she says. “There were only 8 questions…” and she proceeded to tell us what they were.
I can remember thinking, “Good, I know that stuff, that’s what I studied last night.” But I may have gone over my notes one last time to make sure.
At the end of C block Science, just as I’m finishing writing the test, and feeling confident that I had done well, I had an attack of conscience.
So, I added the following statement: (or something like this, it’s been years. I don’t remember exactly) “Mr. D, at lunch I was made aware of the questions on this test. Is that cheating? I think I would have done well regardless because I did study this stuff last night.” Then I signed my name with cute loopy letters and added a daisy at the end.

The next day, he called me up to his desk.
“What am I supposed to do about this?” he asked, pointing to my statement.
“Whatever you think is best.” I replied.
“In all my years of teaching I have never…” he was speechless.
I smiled.
He gave me an A.
I knew he would.

On Tuesday I was rear-ended by an East Indian dump truck driver who was hauling a full load and had no way of stopping. I had been traveling slowly in the fast lane, following behind traffic that was inching alongside a pack of wild dogs running wild down the centre lane.

A few hours later, while having tea with my mom, the realization that my brake lights have been malfunctioning on my truck, hit me like, like an attack of conscience.
“Oh crap. Maybe it was my fault.” I gasped.
“He hit the lady beside you too. How could it be your fault?” my mom wondered. “Did he say he didn’t see any brake lights?”
“No. It never came up. I was never stopped. In fact, I don’t think I was ever breaking… just driving real pokey-like. I got onto the freeway in a line with all the others, we never had the chance to accelerate because the dogs were there, at the end of the ramp…”
“There you go. Don’t worry about it.”

But I did. I did worry about it.
I purposefully didn’t phone in my claim for 24 hours. I wanted to be the last one. So if the question of my brake lights came up, I would answer honestly.

“Good news!” My adjustor cheerfully informs me. “The truck driver has claimed full responsibility. His truck was too heavy to stop quickly. Your deductible has been waived. You’re clear to get the damage repaired. And you are covered to get a courtesy vehicle that meets your needs. Have a good day.”
Well, there. No problem.
Why was I so conflicted?
Had I withheld evidence? Is that like cheating? Lying? Being dishonest?
Why did I not have a clear conscience over the incident?
Why was I not in peace?

As I was running a bath, I grabbed the devotional that the kids and I talk through each evening. I opened it to Sept 16:
Are you in a dilemma, wondering if you should tell the truth or not? The question to ask in such moments is, Will God bless my deceit? Will He, who hates lies, bless a strategy built on lies? Will the Lord, who loves the truth, bless the business of falsehoods? I don’t think so either.
Examine your heart.
Do you tell the truth… always?
Start today.
Don’t wait until tomorrow. The ripple of today’s lie is tomorrow’s wave and next year’s flood.

Sometimes it’s so nice to hear clearly from God. To know, without doubt, what His will is. But some days it’s the shits.

I have wrestled with this for 48 hours.
I tried calling “Bruce” my adjustor this evening to give him one last bit of info to add to my file, “By the way, my brake lights weren’t working on Tuesday. A faulty switch… it’s been replaced. S’all good now…” but I didn’t get through.
Will do it tomorrow.

I know I’m running the risk of having the whole accident blamed on me.
I’ll lose my safe driving record.
My insurance will go up.
I’ll have to pay the deductible.
I have no job.
But I’ll be able to sleep at night.

Maybe Bruce will be like Mr D, my ol’ science teacher and give me an A anyway.

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