Fuck The Police: Part IV

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

I used to get petrified when I saw those blue and white flashing lights go on behind my vehicle.  Those two or three times I was hauled to the side by the pōpō growing up, I broke out in cold sweats and promised myself I would not cry.  I'm proud to say that even when pressed by a New York State-y, the water works were held in reserve.

Now I live in a 5-college town.  I get pulled over seasonally.  The only thought that goes through my mind when I see the blue and white flame on is: How funny a story will this interaction be?  

A few weeks ago I was driving home from Quarters, as I have been want to do as of late, at about 11pm on a Wednesday.  I took the "back-way" home through the cornfields and cow pastures so as not to be delayed by traffic lights or car accidents.  Since the back roads don't lead to any of the many local colleges, late at night there are barely even cars on the road, allowing me to cruise home in relative anonymity.  

As I turned onto the first pasture road, I flicked on my high beams to help delineate the space where the road meets the muddy ditch beside it. The speed limit is reasonable back there, and I came to a complete stop at the T-intersection, before taking a left down the next semi-abadoned street.  About a mile down that road, I encountered my first nighttime travel companion coming from the other direction.  

Nonplused, I trucked passed the vehicle and headed toward the upcoming 4-way intersection.  Two seconds later I realized my brights were still on and said, 'SHIT' audibly to myself as I flicked them off.  Three seconds after that, the blue and whites went on behind me.

It didn't take long for me to realize that I had inadvertently brighted a cop, and for that reason alone, that cop was going to come track me down and pull me over.  I must have really hurt the officer's feelings.  Was brighting a vehicle even a ticket-able offense? I thought it was more akin to a serious social faux pas?  I refused to slow down as I contemplated that "pulled over for brighting a cop" would now be added to the growing list of hilarious reasons my automotive travel plans had been delayed by the pigs.  Other hits include: pulled over for flashing my headlights to alert oncoming vehicles of a cop (on the day I graduated high school, no ticket), pulled over for swerving over the median (unconfirmed, no ticket), changing lanes quickly (no ticket cause . . . duh), pulled over for . . . pulling over for an oncoming police cruiser with its lights going, and pulled over for speeding (as determined by a cop driving at full speed in the other direction, no ticket cause I wasn't speeding and physics doesn't work like that).

On the surface it's just an huge inconvenience, but at the same time, I can't help but wonder if the police are spending too much energy on minor traffic violations, and less resources on curbing more violent crime.  Let's just say that headlight-based car violations are not the scurge keeping the nearby cities of Springfield and Holyoke in poverty.  I bet an increase in police funding towards the protection of neighborhoods in those communities that are hurting the most, could make quite a difference.  I say that because I don't think the police are all bad, they just seem to be at their absolute worst every time they interact with me.  And I'm sick of it.

But back to our hard working police officer stuck on a lonely country road with nowhere to pull a U-turn to pursue a car going the opposite direction. The deep moats on either side of the street prevented even a compact car from maneuvering itself around without causing an Austin Powers-like roadblock.  The cop was forced to go, lights on, for another 1/8 of a mile to a farm driveway in order to 3-point turn around.

By the time the cop's car was facing the correct direction, I had already reached the 4-way STOP sign, let a blue car coming from the other direction turn left in front of me, and then followed that car by taking a right turn a few moments later.  By the time the cop had sped his way up to the STOP sign, our cars were about 100 yards and 120 yards away from him, respectively.  He made quick work of that distance and I dutifully pulled over to the side of the road.  I was, I would argue understandably, confused when the trooper slowed down, then passed me on my left and sped toward the other vehicle.

Now I'm laughing out loud.  I'm putting together the most likely scenario of what's going on inside that cop car right now.  Personally outraged at the purposeful shaming by one of their constituents, this officer decided that while I already self-corected my mistake, he needed further satisfaction.  (I will admit that getting brighted is super friggin annoying and I have, from time to time, threatened to "fucking kill" said people -- but never pull them over.)  So he comes after me, righteous indignation at full tilt and with a sense of entitlement cramping up the space inside the car.

He is well on his way to getting his last laugh when he realizes that with all that backing up and turning around, he has no solid idea of which car he's so enraged at.  But he's already had his lights and siren going for about 5 minutes at this point, and he kinda has to pull someone over.  But who!  It's that moment when a cop realizes that he won't be able to wield his perceived infallible authority without further thought. But he was so looking forward to it!  Ambiguity really messes with a cop's complete lack of accountability.  

As he pulls the car in front of me to the side of the road, it's clear by his flashing brake lights that he still isn't confident with his final decision.  He speeds past the blue car, and begins to turn around again facing me.  I am busy working to suppress my giggles by the time my destined discussion with this police officer comes to pass.  Suffice it to say, as his car draw closer to mine he does not take the time to turn around again to park behind my car.  That fact alone makes suppressing laughter physically painful.  In fact, we both just casually roll down our windows, both cars running in 'park'.  I am not shocked to see a white male cop, considering the offense I'm being hassled about.

"Were you just coming down South Middle," he asked gruffly.

I have no idea which street is South Middle, and I'm not sure how that would clear up the misunderstanding he's having anyway.   I take a half pause to think about how I want to play this.  I could easily lie in any number of ways in order to purposely confuse the officer into a state of further agitation.  the down side of all of these approaches is that they take time with my window open to the bitterly cold night, and therefore I am highly motivated to get this whole shit-show moving.  So I level with the guy.

"I'm not sure which street is South Middle officer," I begin reverentially, "but I'm sorry for brighting you back there.  I forgot to turn them off in time, and I'm really sorry about that."  My inflection is going for sincerity with a hint of self-punitive apology.  I want him to hear that it was a silly mistake on my part, which it was.

Now, I can't tell if it was my tone of voice, the words I said, or the fact that this policeman did not want to have to pull another U-turn tonight, but it was quickly clear that I was going to get off with a warning.  Which is fair.  I mean, way over the top and a huge waste of time, but fair.  But then he has to go and roll out this parting line:  

"Well, you're lucky, cause you would've gotten $100 dollar ticket."

I said, "OK," with a complete lack of inflection this time. I rolled up my window, and move along.

But here is what I meant to say:

I'm lucky?  I'M LUCKY!?!  You're not even sure if I am who you think I am.  So I don't feel as lucky as I feel you are UNlucky!  And lucky how!?  Cause nothing happened to make me lucky.  I'm lucky you didn't get your way and couldn't write me a super bullshit ticket for "brighting you" just because you can.  I'm lucky you didn't waste my time in a court room where I would have to spell out what an imbecile you just made of yourself while driving on the abandoned back roads late at night instead of monitoring the populated streets in virtually every direction.  "Yes, your honor, he pulled us both over.  Yes, your honor, only because he got brighted.  Yes, your honor, I does seem like a great deal of trouble over a relatively minor offense." The fact that officers are trained (yup) to end these traffic interactions with this kind threat ('You're lucky, if I had written you a ticket it would have been for $400') is such an inappropriate and ineffective approach if you want your community to have a positive  relationship with it's 'armed protectors.' You can tell me how much the ticket would have been if you'd arrested me for drug possession, but ease the hell up on your moral high horse during routine traffic stops  (and especially ridiculous traffic stops), cause it's not like 'the force' has an unblemished record in this regard as well (and I'm not talking about Jedi's here). 

But I know better than to try and reason with a police officer at night, and I took a page out of the ol' worst case scenario handbook by keeping my head down and my mouth shut.  Until I got home, where I immediately jotted down notes about my latest absurd brush with the law.   Fuck the police. 

No comments:

Post a Comment