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By Jordan W. Charness

“Am I a nice guy?” Peter asked me one day.

“Yes, you’re a nice guy, Peter.”

“Really nice?”

“Yes, Peter.”

“Maybe I’m just too nice!”

It’s true. Peter is a very nice guy and being his friend is never boring. Sometimes, however, Peter’s friends seem to take advantage of him, to his detriment. This story is a case in point.

Peter is coach of the local Little League baseball team. He usually coaches the 10-year-old boys and enjoys the enthusiasm of the younger kids. This year he came up with the bright idea that, in order to get a head start on the season, they would hold Sunday afternoon mini practices indoors in order to get everybody excited and in shape for the new season.

More often than not, Peter ends up giving some of the kids a lift home. He doesn’t like to say ‘no’ when a parent asks him to do it as a special favour, and the other day he lost track of the number of kids he agreed to bring home.

When Peter told everybody to get into his crossover vehicle the available seats filled up quickly. Since the kids were kind of small they all crammed into the back seat, so there were four young boys squished in to the three seats in the back. A fourth boy was in the front passenger seat, and of course a heck of a lot of baseball gear filled up the rear cargo area.

The boys were boisterous, loud and happily discussing the upcoming season as Peter drove them home. Peter discussed plays and plans for how the team would run when the season began. All of a sudden Peter felt the car lurch to one side accompanied by a loud “Pow!” as his front tire blew out. He safely brought the car to a stop on the side of the road and called for a tow truck.

Since he was on an expressway the local laws required that he stay inside his vehicle and wait for the police to arrive as well as the tow truck. The police would come so as to make sure that they could block traffic behind him to keep him, his passengers and the tow truck driver safe.

The police arrived quite quickly and set up their special flashers behind his car. A police officer then came forward to tell Peter that it would be a few minutes until the tow truck arrived. At that time the cop looked inside his car and noticed the extra passenger in a back seat. He told Peter that it was illegal to drive with more passengers than there were seat belts and that his car was clearly overloaded.

Peter explained what had happened and told him that he had not wanted to leave a 10-year-old stranded at baseball practice or further inconvenience one of the parents. He did point out that he had double belted two of the smaller kids into one seat in the back and thought that that would be sufficient.

The police officer told him in no uncertain terms that the law is very clear about one seatbelt per one passenger. He told him that he could give him a ticket but saw the dejected look on Peter’s face that was matched by the sad looks on the faces of all the 10-year-olds.

Instead of giving him a ticket, the police officer decided to only give him a warning. In order to make sure that everybody got home safely the police officer asked the boys if they would like to go with him for a ride in the police car. He then gave turns in the cop car to each of the excited kids while he helped Peter drive everyone home after the tow truck driver had changed Peter’s tire.

Maybe when you’re as nice as Peter you get paid back in kind.

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