Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Please Enjoy the Music? Impossible!

Elizabeth Barrett
June 20, 2012
When placing a phone call, as soon as I hear the word “Please...” I groan.  Because what is certain to follow is “....enjoy the music while your party is being reached.”  And then comes such an assault on my ears that every nerve is jangled as with the skill of a bell ringer.  I can’t enjoy the music, can you?  It is not music.  Even when the “song” is something I vaguely recognize, it is not music.  It is a cacophony of harsh, grinding, unremitting noise.  The sane person would simply hold the phone calmly an arm’s length from his ear until the din subsides and the pleasant, well-meaning call-ee answers.  But I always use ear phones with my calls and pulling them out each time my ears are attacked is rather inconvenient. 
The ones that put that “music” on their phones must never call themselves or they would know the disservice they render.   It couldn’t actually cost a monthly fee to keep that reverberation going, could it?  If it does, I would ask you to save your money and save what’s left of my hearing! Please!

Friday, June 8, 2012


Elizabeth Willis Barrett
June 6, 2012
(Reading this essay may save you some grief!)
Have you ever come up to a yellow light and debated a second too long whether to stop or not?  You must choose to slide on through the yellow or squeal your brakes causing bodies and 44 ouncers to slosh dangerously.  A second to decide is all you’ve got.  
I came to a light at Dobson and Main and my split second decision was decidedly the wrong one.  I drove through the yellow only to see a flash of brilliance that made my stomach reel.  Photo radared again!  Before this incident, I had received only one unflattering blurred picture of myself driving.  I took it to a complaint department and asked them how they could tell it was me.  He was very kind and said there was no denying the likeness.  He also told me how the lights are synchronized and that I did have time to stop but chose not to.  Off to traffic school I marched to avoid the fine and the record.
When this next expected indistinct photo arrived in the mail connected to a traffic ticket, I ignored it as many experienced photoed drivers have advised me to do.  Unfortunately, a hungry ticket issuer decided to knock on my door one evening with a copy of said ticket.  
“Are you Elizabeth Barrett?” she asked. Thinking she had something exciting to offer me, I admitted that I was.  “Here!” she said and thrust an envelope into my hand before she scampered away out of the porch’s light.  I felt the same way I used to feel as a kid when a racing child slammed me with, “Tag, you’re it!”  This one I knew I couldn’t run from.  
I didn’t want to spend a whole day in traffic school which also came with a rather steep price tag, so I opted to pay the very hefty fine of $361.50 which sounded a bit over the top for not stopping at a yellow.  I paid it anyway just to be done with the whole thing and thought I was.  

Yesterday, however, I got a letter which showed that not only was I not done, but the can of worms was proliferating.   
The letter was from the MVD.  It stated: “The following action has been ordered against your driving and/or vehicle registration privileges.” I thought that their letter had been sent before they realized that I had already paid the fine.  So I called the number given for those with questions.  Surely I could quickly explain that I had already paid the fine so they could cross me off their hassle list.  But as the young-man-in-training who was trying to help me explained, the MVD letter was totally separate from the court-issued ticket I had received.  In essence, he told me that since I had paid the fine, I had admitted to a traffic light violation.  Because Arizona is number one (or somewhere near) in red light run-ons, the state legislature has made a law that anyone admitting to running a light must take an eight hour Traffic Survival Class which could cost up to $200.  Therefore, my unfortunate second of mis-calculation could cost me about $561.50 plus eight grueling hours of class time.  Better than my life or someone else’s, I know.  But it seems like a high penalty for running a yellow light.   
I have a great respect for the law.  We should be held accountable when we make an error.  If we weren’t, there would be lots more funerals which would be terrible, especially if we know and love the one being grieved over.  I usually don’t even rail against photo radar because it keeps infractions down.  If it means I have to take my turn in traffic school once in a while, I’ll do it.  I just think the punishment should match the crime.  
Since I’ve had prevention on my mind a lot recently, I have three tidbits of advice to give to help you prevent the torment of a yellow light violation.
#1.  When approaching a yellow light, STOP!  Don’t try to out guess if it has a camera connected to it or not. Just STOP! Throw your right arm out to keep everything from continuing it’s forward thrust, and stomp your right foot on the brake.  The two minutes you save won’t be worth doing otherwise. 

#2.  If your doorbell rings, before you answer it, make sure you check the peephole to see who is standing there trying to look innocent.  If he/she looks like he/she is hiding an envelope behind his/her back, get away from the door and make absolutely no noise.  Hopefully, he/she will think you’re not home even though all cars are in the carport and your house lights are blazing.  If you do not receive an official summons, you cannot be held responsible.
#3.   If you fail to follow the first two pieces of advice, at least follow this one: When that letter is personally delivered to you by a nervous stranger, read every word of it so you don’t miss the fine print.  That print will probably say, “if you pay this fine you are admitting that you were wrong in a light violation.”  And if you pay the fine, the Court will send that guilty verdict to the MVD.  I don’t know why the MVD gets involved but they do. Then the MVD will require you to take an expensive eight hour class totally unrelated to the court requirement.  Fair?  I don’t think so.  But there it is.
Happy driving and just in case--keep smiling!

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Elizabeth Willis Barrett
May 21, 2012
As I drive along the highway, I am usually oblivious to the mileposts set out every mile for the benefit of myself and other travelers.  I notice trees, I notice clouds, I notice mountain formations.  But mileposts don’t make it to my awareness.  I’ve never used them.  Recently, however, I had to tell a group of girls how to get to our cabin and mileposts were a very important inclusion in the directions.  I now see their value and will try a little harder to notice them. 
There are other mileposts that I need to pay more attention to.  Spiritual mileposts.
Throughout my journey on earth I have received messages from Heaven that could be called mileposts from a loving Heavenly Father who knows me well and loves me anyway.  Some of these messages come when I am sitting in the Temple waiting for a session to begin.  I pick up the scriptures and let them fall open.  Very often, the first words I see will be an answer to a problem I have been wrestling with at the moment.
One day in the Temple, I was, as usual, very concerned about my son whose addictions have worried our family for a long time.  I silently prayed, “Please help me be at peace and to be happy no matter what choices Jeffrey is making.  If there is something I am supposed to be doing concerning him, please tell me.”
I opened up the Doctrine and Covenants and these were the words I read:
“Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants.
“Wherefore, be of good cheer and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.”  (D&C 68:5-6)
At the time, that scripture felt like an answer written just for my comfort.  It calmed me and reminded me to testify of Christ--something specific that I could do for Jeffrey.  
On another occasion, I opened the scriptures during a period of dissatisfaction.  This time the book fell open to the Topical Guide.  I thought I would have to let the book open again to a more promising section until I saw the words “Content: be content with such things as ye have.”  It was a much needed message that I tried to internalize.  I have to keep making myself remember that milepost. 
One of the most direct messages came as I was driving to my oldest son’s home at 5:20 in the morning to watch his two young sons so he could go to work.  When I’m in the car I never turn on the radio.  I either listen to a book on CD or enjoy the silence.  That morning I was enjoying the silence when it came to me that I should turn on the radio. That was an unusual thought.  It briefly touched my mind that something would be on the radio at that moment that would be to my advantage.  So I turned it on.
The song “Get Closer” was playing.  I don’t know who had been driving my car last and left it on that station, but I heard, “Darlin’, if you want me to be closer to you get closer to me.”  I didn’t have to ponder long to understand how those words pertained to me.  Sometimes I believe that I am very close to Heaven but at that particular time I felt a bit estranged.  I took that song as a powerful directive that I needed to be closer to the Lord and He wasn’t the One who needed to move.
The song “Draw Near Unto Me” would have been much more appropriate, of course, but I don’t suppose I’d ever hear that on the radio except maybe in Utah on a Sunday.  The Lord used the available resources to get to me and I got the message.
The words “Darlin’, if you want me to be closer to you get closer to me” run through my mind often.  They remind me that I can’t neglect my spiritual growth if I want to make the most of my time here on earth.
I am grateful for the little mileposts along the way manifesting that my Heavenly Father is aware of me and wants what’s best for me.  I just need to pay attention and follow.