Tuesday, February 3, 2009

VIP

Listen here, parents. I want to give you some advice.  I am not a parent myself (yet), so parenting advice is something I don't give. Ever. It's not my place. It's not my business. Until now. But today, I want to share something with you, and I really hope you will listen because it is something that made a huge impact on me (for the better). Here it goes...

One day, during my junior year of high school, we were all crammed into the auditorium for a lecture. Ugh, another lecture, how boring does that sound? Yes, there were many grunts and groans among my 17-year-old cohorts, but we went anyway, only because we had no choice. Our speakers for the day were strangers; people we had never seen before in our small school. One man and one woman sat at a table in the front of the room, and once they were introduced, the room fell silent. These were people whose lives had been forever and drastically changed as a result of drunk driving. 

Did you know that someone is killed every 32 minutes by a drunk driver?

The woman spoke first. She told the story of her experience with a drunk driver. She said that she and her husband and children went to the car dealership one sunny day to buy a new van. Once the purchase was completed, the decision was made that the kids could ride in the new car with dad because they were excited and mom would follow them home in the old car. They never made it home Somewhere on the highway, a trucker crossed the median and collided head-on with dad and the kids, killing all of them. Mom witnessed the accident. She saw her family perish before her eyes. The truck driver was drunk and didn't have scratch on his body. He immediately began throwing beer cans out of the window and into the ditch below, hoping to hide the evidence.

The gentleman followed her story with his own, only his was told from another perspective. He was the drunk driver. He took an innocent life, and as a result, he spent many years behind bars. He missed out on seeing his child grow up; he even missed his high school graduation. His poor judgment had ruined many lives.

The program concluded with a very graphic video. It showed several pictures of the mangled remains of vehicles involved in drunk driving accidents. It also told the stories of several other people whose lives had been tragically lost. By the time this "lecture" was over, there wasn't a dry eye in the room.

Now, I don't know the impact the event had on my peers; I can only tell you about my own experience. I am not claiming to be perfect; I have gotten behind the wheel after a night out, when I have known that it was not the right decision. But because of these visitors 13 years ago, I try to ALWAYS plan ahead and make smart decisions when it comes to drinking and driving.

If you know of anyone who might benefit from this presentation as I did, please consider having these people come to your child's school. For more information, check out vipofok.com.

BTW, the reason I wrote this post today is because when J and I went to lunch yesterday, we got behind a drunk driver. This man was back and forth across two lanes of traffic, up on the sidewalks, and weaving in and out of oncoming cars. We called 911 twice. By the time the cops pulled him over, it took five police cars surrounding his car to get him to stop. Since he was unable to stand without two people holding him up, he was immediately placed in handcuffs. This was at 1:00 on a Monday afternoon.

Thank you for reading. I will now descend from my soapbox!


1 comment:

Kirsten said...

My first one of these was actually on the punishment side after my bad decision. It left me shaken for a very long time. We now have a VIP (Victims Impact Panel) every year during the week before prom. We also have a week long activity where certain students are chosen each day and they wear black tshirts, paint their faces white, and they cannot talk to anyone. After the VIP, they must read a goodbye letter they have written from the perspective either of the victim or the offender. It is always moving. It always makes me want to share my story, but I cannot do that as a teacher. Thank you for this T, and for helping to remove one more drunk driver from our streets.