Humility and DWIs

 

I’ve commented many times over the years about DWI offenses. I’ve told a million people that as long as no one is injured, we shouldn’t ruin people’s lives because they had a foolish moment. The first offense is a wake-up call, a warning toward learning from one’s mistakes and working to avoid repeating the misstep. The embarrassment of being caught combined with the economic impact usually deters most people from stepping into the same hole. We should require bumper stickers on their vehicles, breathalyzers to double-check them and ensure that they undergo long counseling and community service.

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(Except for my parents: they reached double digits in the number of times they were pulled over and/or arrested for drunk driving. They never learned their lesson during their entire adulthood, even after someone dying, children in the cars in question.)

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What does continue to bug me is when someone gets a D.W.I. and lashes out in anger at the attention or second-guessing they receive. If I had to put a word to what I expect, I would call it “humility.” If you messed up so badly you were rewarded with a DWI, stop getting angry at everyone else about it. Deal with the consequences directly, honestly, and move on as quickly as your circumstances will allow.

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Don’t try to silence criticism or bully your way out of dealing with honest commentary or even gossip. You messed up and were caught, not the people whose jaws are wagging. If you lose your job as a result, your license, or have to display a sticker on your vehicle indicating you were guilty of driving under the influence, don’t make it worse by being angry at the world. That’s the recipe for repetition. Your picture is going to be in the paper and everyone is going to be whispering about it. Don’t kid yourself: literally everyone you know is going to be talking about it.

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I’ve said it before in different ways: If you do something as ignorant as getting a DWI, trust me, EVERYONE knows about and those whispers you suspect are about you are indeed about what you have done. Don’t fight it. It only gets worse.

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Your friends will download your booking photo and forward it to one another. Your picture is going to be on the internet, probably forever. You will be second-guessed for a long time, until the memory of what you did fades enough for people to see that you have learned from your mistake.
(If I ever get a DWI, I’m going to post it on social media, send emails, and makes some calls. I’d rather everyone hear it from me. It’s almost impossible to avoid the stigma of people finding out your secret.)

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If you get a DWI and are not in jail, spend that time being glad that society lets you walk around and try to resume a normal life. Don’t focus on the idea that ‘everyone knows,’ because not only does everyone know about it, but they can’t help but to discuss it.

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Don’t lash out at people because you screwed up. Be humble.

PS: Remember that I also caution many who have never been charged with DWI. Many of you, if you are being honest, know that you have driven under the influence and only by luck or circumstance did you avoid being labelled as a drunk driver. Or have connections to help you avoid paying the consequences of driving under the influence.

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