Tempus Fugit!

All of us have been lectured a time or two. Most of us have lectured our kids. The goal should be to make the lecture be remembered. Ideally the recipient will reference the lecture at a critical time and heed the advice from that lecture.

Of all the lectures, I have received one stands out. I heard it from a Chicago judge in traffic court. I was working as a warehouseman and made occasional deliveries. The company had a Chevy Suburban. That was back when Suburbans were actually trucks. It was also long before the internet. I had to make a delivery on Pulaski in Chicago. I did not know if the address was north or south of (I55) the Stevenson Expressway. I guessed wrong. I turned down a dead end side street. Pulled into a driveway and backed out. Who knew that this was an illegal Y turn – not me.

Anyway, I went to court to fight it. I was making $7 an hour, with a wife and young child at home. I really couldn't afford the ticket. The judge asked who had plea agreements. He disposed of their cases. Then he asked who was going to plead not guilty, but did not have a lawyer. About 25 of us raised our hands. One by one he took our names and had us all stand before the bench. Then he gave us a lecture and dismissed all of the cases.

The judge kept repeating the words Tempus Fugit. That is Latin for time flies. He spent about 20 minutes lecturing us on how little time we saved by running a red light. He did the math on how little time we saved by speeding. No, I did not raise my hand and asked how much time my criminal act had saved. The judge told us that we would never speed enough to make up for the time it took to come to court that day. He probably didn't know that I would drive well over 4,000,000 miles. I didn't either.

I think of that lecture at least once a day. If I am doing my 63 MPH and come up on that proverbial 62 MPH truck 2 miles before my exit, I wait. That light turns yellow, I don't push the orange. Every day someone simultaneously passes me and takes the exit. I think. Was it worth it? 35 years later, I am still listening to that lecture. At some point every day that lecture enters my mind. I apply it to my driving decisions. I guess that judge made his point.

Comments (5)

Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

Ask Jeff a question

Read These Next...

LIVE Smart

WAKE UP

October 17, 2019

TRUCK Smart

TRUCK Smart

Learning to Drive Better

February 09, 2015

Comment ()


When I first started driving I turned SoCal regularly. I asked a UPS driver that pulled doubles how he managed in the L.A. traffic. He said he keeps backing out of it so that he always had a safe following distance. I jokingly replied that in bad traffic you would have to put it in reverse to keep that safe space! Now over 3 and a half decades later I am still doing the same thing he advised, and have been able to avoid countless fender benders that have occurred around me by having that space.

May 23, 2016 6:00:32 AM

Profits over miles Tommy. This is a business.

May 22, 2016 19:30:43 PM

Back when I was young and dumb, now I'm old and not as dumb, I was under the false impression that speed was how you made the most money. In 1990, I decided to work for more pay per mile instead of more miles at the same pay. Today, I drive half the miles I did in 1990 and make a third more money. I actually feel sorry for the driver that chases that larger paycheck by speeding. And if you try to explain to them how to make more money by slowing down, you get that deer in the headlight look.

May 21, 2016 10:45:47 AM

Drives me nuts! Especially if you have CMS. You need to cancel cruise to keep,your momentum

May 21, 2016 5:32:47 AM

You are so right. I can't count the times a car will pass me, get in front of me and then slow down so he can take an exit. "I just got to get in front of that big truck!" I let them have their way. Now that I have a dash cam, if I were to hit any of them, I hope I have enough evidence to prove my innocence.

May 20, 2016 13:27:33 PM