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Red Lights

This week I've been thinking about Josh and Donna. 

If you're fans of The West Wing, you know who I'm talking about. 

If not, don't worry. All you need to know is that he works in the White House and she's his assistant. In the first episode, you're pretty sure they're going to end up together, but it takes eight seasons to pull it off. 

About halfway through the run of the show, Donna is talking to Josh about why she broke up with an old boyfriend. It seems she was in a car accident and was taken to the hospital. Her boyfriend was headed to the hospital, but he'd had prior plans to go out with friends that night, so he stopped to tell them he wasn't going to make it.  

And, had a beer before continuing on. 

Josh expresses disapproval. I'm not sure if the word “schmuck” is actually used or just implied. He goes on to say, “I'm just saying, if you were in a car accident I wouldn't stop for a beer.” 

As Donna walks away she says, “If you were in a car accident, I wouldn't stop for red lights.” 

It's a great line, delivered just as she's going out the door, leaving a gobsmacked Josh behind. 

It's something everyone needs - someone in their life who'd cause them to blow through a red light. You don't need many. In fact, I'd suggest you shouldn't have very many.  

I'm lucky enough to have a few. About a quarter of a century ago, my wife was in a car accident. I received a phone call and rushed to the scene. I was a marvel of cool and collected, until I went to follow the ambulance and climbed into someone else's pickup and drove for a couple miles before I noticed. I didn't run any red lights, but that could be because we don't have any in Big Stone County. A couple decades before that, our infant son was very sick and needed an IV. His veins were too little for our local clinic to work with so they sent us to a hospital eighty miles away. It was a bitter cold winter night and a couple miles away from a small town, we passed a car in the ditch. A quarter mile further on was a solitary figure trudging on the shoulder of the road. I didn't even take my foot off the accelerator, but I did check the papers the next couple days for reports of frozen motorists. I could give a few more examples, all from before we had grandchildren. They're the reason the sun comes up in the morning, so no rules at all apply to what I would do for them. 

And that's why you shouldn't have too many people for whom you would do anything. After all, red lights exist for a reason, and if no one ever stopped for them, all would be chaos. It's good to know there's someone out there who, if needed, would help you bury a body.  

Just try not to ask very often. 


Copyright 2024 Brent Olson 


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