The Truth About Drunk Driving
I started off with a great Monday, which as you might know, is a rarity for most. I love Monday’s. They mean a fresh start, a new beginning, but for me, today they meant, test prep, winter cold, and pre-test freak outs. It was a good day. I felt confident about the test, I rocked the test, and then called my Dad to tell him of my success. I wasn’t expecting my mom to answer his phone. I wasn’t expecting her to start talking in a somber tone, and I wasn’t expecting her to ask me about two students that I went to high school with, and how well did I know the so-and-so kids. I knew them. I knew them quite well in fact. I was in marching band with one, classes with another, their dad was a shining light in my childhood, I saw him at every basketball game growing up, at every sports event imaginable.
He was a sweet man, well known for his snow white facial hair and shiny bald head, and of course his big, bold laugh and conservative views. He was outspoken in his support or lack thereof of certain school policies, and he was a fun, caring teacher and administrator.
I didn’t expect my mom to tell me that he had been killed in a motorcycle accident the night before. That his two children were left without a dad, that his girlfriend also died in the car accident. I didn’t expect any of it. In fact, I didn’t expect any of the news and was frozen still, unemotional, not understanding what she was telling me. My father joined the conversation, telling me of another accident. Two little kids were left orphans, in critical conditions in a hospital, after a different drunk driver ran their parent’s van off the road. Two little kids, only twenty minutes down the road. In fact, I recognized them from my job back home. I had been their waitress a few times. They came into town for shopping since we had the closest Walmart for miles.
That’s when it hit me. Two separate families. Two different sets of kids. Their lives would be changed forever due to one idiot’s stupid choice to drive while intoxicated. I wish I could say that I wasn’t angry when I found out. But I was, and I am. While I write this article, my hands are shaking, in anger, in terror, and more than all, in pure, unchanging sadness.
After I left the phone call with my parents, I went to the local newspaper website, wanting to see a news story, some information, some background. The local paper wasn’t much help. Five sentences. No causes, no reasoning behind why the teacher and his passenger were hit. I googled other papers and then I found my answer. In the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
That’s when I started to bawl. Tears flowing freely down my face as I realized that my small, tightly-knit community knew less about the accident that the big name paper an hour and a half North of our town, and more than two hours North of where the accidents occurred. It hurt. I realized that had I not been notified via my father who it was, that had I read that article previously, the first thought that would have run through my head is, “Is that my dad?” Teacher. Administrator. Father.
Let me tell you something, something that struck me to the bone. Drunk drivers are stupid, the worst form of murder. We’re all warned from a young age that driving while even the slightest bit intoxicated is a big no no. And yet, they disobey the law, break the rules, because they think that they’re above everyone else and can handle a few drinks. Well they’re wrong.
Because here’s the truth about drunk driving: you know better, and yet you still do it, it’s the worst kind of murder, it’s murder without a point. A sadistic, pointless act. Drunk drivers have no idea who will be affected by the deaths committed during a drunk driver’s rampage. A community is scarred by it, the backlash hits the community in the worst way: it hits us silently, without warning, without a chance to fight back. And worst of all, families hurt, they suffer. Children are left without parents, left mourning family members that they’re not old enough to truly know, and THAT is the truth about drunk driving.