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California Highway Patrol Officer Dave Gaskins, left, checks for drivers licenses as Srgt. Kevin Duncan, right, look on during their four hour DUI road check point operation on eastbound Highway 12 Sunday afternoon.


True story of the STOP sign:

In three days I was stopped for two tickets on the road I drive every day.

Every day. Same road. Three blocks apart.

The first time it was cruising a stop sign. Got lit up. Pulled over.

The officer looked like a frightened seventeen year old, like we’d all be frightened, when he asked, “Do you have any other weapons in your vehicle. This stop is being recorded from my car.”

I had a machete on the floorboard from chopping brush. Open carry?


Three days later it was 36 in a 25 along with, “Do you know how fast you’re going?”

Same road, three blocks down. Pumped the brakes once too little.

Over $500 in fines when my case was called.

“How do you plead? Guilty, innocent, or no contest?”

I answered, “I’m not sure, your honor.”

“It’s either innocent and schedule a court date, guilty and pay the fine, or no contest and pay.”

May I approach the bench?

(I loved saying that after hearing it on television forever. Perry Mason anyone?)

“Please do.”

Your honor.

Would it be more beneficial to fine me over $500, send me to jail, or get a public service editorial on the importance of stopping at STOP signs in suburban neighborhoods? In the paper?

“I’m not certain I understand you. The choices are innocent, guilty, or no contest.”

Excuse my expression, your honor, but I’ve got two tickets three days apart. If I don’t pay $500, is going to jail better than a public service column/editorial on STOP signs on every street? It’s something all the new people in Tigard need to read.

“You can do that?”

Yes I can, your honor. I’m a writer, a blogger, and I’m ready to serve. One way of the other.

That’s who you’ve got here.

If you moved to Tigard from inner-Southeast Portland, you might feel like you found the best of the best in Oregon, considered by many the best state in America.

Call it the best, best, best for starters.

The move out of the city idea began about the time my first son was born near Southeast 11th and Lincoln.

The funny urban myths of rabid pit bulls roaming the neighborhood, or a choking Doberman, weren’t so funny after his birth.

We had a neighborhood pitbull on patrol. Not a funny dog in the dark when you’re pushing a carriage.

The house around the corner with metal bars over the windows doing business all night through a delivery slot in the front door wasn’t funny either.

Shades of Serpico when you’re showing off the neighborhood.

What kind of childhood does this promise? An inner-city SE Portland childhood.

It was a tough block.

So you make a change. Embrace the change is what I heard.

When you move to the suburbs, remember this: You’re not the first to leave the inner-city.

You’ll find long-term residents in your new town whose parents and grandparents all went to the local schools your kids will attend.

When you tell them where you used to live, they’ll look at you like you just crawled out of the sewer, then ask why you ever lived in such a place as SE Portland.

Just agree with them.

Tell them how glad you are to find a place where the yard isn’t a public toilet, where the paper delivery comes in so strong it chops your plants down, but at least you get to read it first.

Do that and you’ve laid a great foundation for your family.

It means you get a chance to raise your kids with good schools in a supportive environment beside other parents doing the same.

Some of them might become lifelong friends. You love your sleepy little burg, but it doesn’t mean you get a break on the street.


The usual law and order still applies in spite of your ecstatic feelings.

Officer Friendly listens and writes.

You may guide the future of America with your parenting skills, but it doesn’t mean you get to skate on the rules everyone else lives by.

Start with the stop sign and speed limit sign.

A stop sign is a habit. Get it.

When you see a red octagon with white block lettering?


When you pull out of your new cul-du-sac, the stop sign at the end of your road means the same as it does in Times Square or a red light on Broadway.


You can see three blocks in every direction?


It’s four in the morning and you’re heading out?


It’s a new stop sign and you don’t know why they put one there?


Not every stop sign saves the life of a child chasing a ball into the street, but the habit will.

Imagine the moment between stopping, or thinking about stopping, or rolling halfway through before stopping.

It’s tiny.

Record books are full of champions who won by 1/10th of a second, or 1/100th of a second. You’ll never read about reaction time in news stories of the drivers hitting pedestrians, but it has to play a part.

Sometimes it’s an elder driver issue.

If you are concerned about someone else’s driving, find a way to approach them.

Grandpa’s car with new scrapes and bumps, and he doesn’t remember what caused them? Find a way to talk to him about driving.

A good way is sharing a driving class to set the bar of good driving. A bad way is you getting a speeding and failure-to-stop ticket one week apart on the same road at the same time of day.

You can’t talk about a problem driver when you’re a problem driver.

You worry about someone else’s hazardous driving while you coast down a hill seemingly unconscious?

With two strikes toward a suspended license, who needs your driving advice? You may love Tigard, but Tigard doesn’t need a loose cannon on the local roads.

Once you choose your city, you bond to it.

You will raise your family there and support the heck out of local business. The last place you want to be is traffic court.

Make a difference that matters, set a good example.

For good measure, read this to everyone you know over 50 and ask them if they know how much a failure to obey the stop sign ticket is.

That time:

Stop sign: $295.

Speeding, $195.

It’s more today.

Stop at the STOP sign. Please.


About David Gillaspie


  1. Tim Sytsma says

    But …. fine or editorial blog?
    We are dying to know David. Even if you were a rascally North Bend Bulldog… we wont hold that against you. People from Sandy Stop at stops signs.


    • David Gillaspie says

      I had a live link to the local paper, but it died.

      That damn stop sign. Safety habits aren’t always easy.


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