I live on what I consider to be the borderline of the South. It may just be my perspective, having grown up in the suburbs of a decent sized city in northern Ohio, but I currently live on the Ohio River, a short drive from West Virginia. With all of the pickup trucks and country music, it feels like the South to me, although it might just be the real Midwest. In any case, college football is huge around here.
The couple had a sticker like the one above on their bumper. The cops in Tennessee apparently mistook it for a pot leaf, which I suppose is understandable, if you’re stupid.
My problem is something that I’ve been noticing a lot more of lately. The cops met this supreme threat of a pot sticker on a 65 year old woman’s bumper with what reads like dickheadedness. They showed up with two SUVs, wearing body armor. I can only imagine that they weren’t pleasant.
As they left, they told her she should take the sticker off of her bumper. Why? So stupid cops don’t pull her over again.
Here’s my problem: increasingly in my life, interactions with police officers have grown less and less pleasant. Not that I’ve had many. I’m not a criminal, and if everyone drove like me accidents would drop 99%.
Let’s start with my first. I was sixteen, and had borrowed my mom’s car for the day. I was on my way to her work to pick her up, and was speeding. I didn’t realize I was speeding. This particular stretch of road had no speed signs from where I turned on, and I assumed it was 45 (that’s how fast everyone else was going) but apparently it was 35. I was going forty-five, and told the cop so when he asked if I knew how fast I was going.
We laughed about it, and after returning from his car (presumably to check plates and licenses and whatnot) he let me off with a warning. It wasn’t a terrible experience.
Second one, I was speeding consciously, 18 and stupid, an hour late for what I was heading to after taking a wrong turn and not noticing for a while. I was going about 80-90 in a 65, although in my defense it was a dry bright summer day and nobody else was on this stretch of interstate at all. Even the police officers were on the other side of the highway, going the opposite way. It wasn’t that bad of an experience, although due to the fact that my license had expired the week prior and I was uninsured at the time (something I was unaware of), they were nice enough. They waited for an hour with me for someone to pick me up so the car didn’t have to get towed.
Third time, this time 25 and stupid, still unlicensed and uninsured but this time fully aware of it. I couldn’t afford insurance at this time, and so couldn’t get my license. I got pulled over for a license plate light being out, and again, the trooper was nice enough, waiting for my ride to avoid the tow fees.
These were all okay experiences, despite the impact they might have had on my life. But in the few years since then, I keep seeing stories and having experiences that confirm my view that police are increasingly developing an “us versus them” mentality when it comes to the citizenry.
I was at family court a few weeks ago, and an officer sits out front, manning the metal detector. They ask my name as I’m putting my stuff in the bucket, going through the familiar routine, I tell him.
“Who are you?” he asks, and I have to admit, I’m a little dumbfounded. This is a new one. I had just given him my name, and now he wants to know who I am. I repeat my name.
He gets visibly upset. “NO,” he says, visibly restraining himself, and then repeating like I’m retarded. “Who. Are. You.”
I just shrug and look confused. “I don’t know what you’re asking me.”
Finally he manages to get out that only the people involved in the current cases on the list are allowed into the waiting room proper, and any guests have to wait in the lobby, so if my name is not on the court list, I’m not allowed in. “Oh, well I’m the (insert full name here) in (case name).”
Then it was better, but he was still grumpy. Maybe he sensed my attitude, but he gave me attitude first. I’m always nothing but pleasant with officers, for the simple reason that they can just invent shit to slap on you if they want to. I’m fully aware of the power structure in place in that relationship.
But the problem was that he lacked the intellect to perhaps brief me on this recent policy change, or slap up a sheet of paper somewhere explaining it so I could be prepared.
In his defense, he has to deal with assholes and rejects of all types all day. Family court is a bleak fucking place and I hate it, and I hope I never have to go back. Things with my kid are relatively settled and secure. Emotions run hot in that building. All kinds of bad blood. Dirty looks are exchanged, the prevailing emotion is hate. It’s palpable.
I sit and listen to people bitching about the person they made a kid with, and it makes me sad. These selfish motherfuckers, bickering over petty shit, and who suffers? Always the kids.
That went off on a tangent. Welcome to me.