Monday, July 23, 2007

Cops and Bloggers

Last Sunday afternoon I made my usual trip to the farmer's market. Driving home, I turned onto the main street that runs through my neighborhood. I stopped when I saw a cop car sitting in the road ahead of me.

If he'd been pulled over to the side of the road, I would have passed him. But he was smack in the middle of the right-hand lane, motor running. So I waited. And waited. When he still didn't move, I inched closer to his car, thinking perhaps he hadn't seen me. No way was I going to illegally pass a cop car on a residential street.

He looked at me in the rearview mirror, took a second look, then put his lights on.

My pulse quickened, but I stayed where I was. My vivid imagination allowed me to suppose that he might be in the middle of a dangerous operation. Maybe an escaped felon was lurking in the condo development across the street! Maybe the cop was trying to protect me!

Suddenly he stuck his arm out the window and tersely motioned for me to pull in front of him.

Oh, great. He wasn't looking for an escaped felon, he was freaking pulling me over.


As I slowly passed him on the left, I saw him shaking his head like I was an idiot. Was I supposed to have known to get in front of his car in the first place? I was mystified.

His lights were still on, so I pulled over on the side of the road and waited, my heart hammering. I thought back to my last ten minutes in the car and knew I hadn't been speeding. Was my inspection overdue? No. Had I changed lanes without signaling? No.

What the hell?

I waited in the bright sunshine and flashing lights for him to approach my car. Curious neighbors turned to look as they drove by. My face was one degree away from bursting into flames.

After another full minute, he pulled up beside me. I rolled my window down.

"Are you okay?"

Was that sarcasm in his voice? Um, yes. Definite sarcasm there.

"Uh... what?"

"You're just sitting there."

I stared blankly.

"I motioned for you to go around me," he sneered.

My voice returned. "You put your lights on! I thought you were pulling me over!"

He snorted, then leaned toward me and shook his head oh-so-slowly and deliberately, as though I weren't capable of interpreting normally-paced nonverbal communication.

Stared at me.

"Well," I said finally. "I'm not just sitting here for the fun of it."

"Well then," he replied. "I guess you can go."

So I did.

What, had his wife left him that morning? Had his house burned down? Had his winning lottery ticket sunk to the bottom of the Potomac?

The world may never know.

So tell me-- if a cop car is stopped in front of you and he puts his lights on, is that the universal signal for pass me? Did I miss that part of driver's ed?

This morning I saw that cop again as I was leaving my neighborhood. I gave him the finger.

(very discreetly and under the dashboard, of course)

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Blogger Janet M Kincaid said...

Liz: I don't know how to break this to you, but you were suppose to proceed around him cautiously. That said, though, it's too bad more drivers in this area aren't as cautious as you. And it's too bad we can't ticket cops for double parking, 'cause he sure as hell woulda ticketed you, if he'd driven by and your car was parked in the middle of a traffic lane like that. Sometimes, cops are the worst examples and hypocrites of driving there are.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

So the flashing lights mean to go around? Okay, maybe I am an idiot. I really never knew that.

Still, he didn't need to be so rude about it. I was obviously only trying to be a good, law-abiding citizen.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Iamthebookworm said...

I did not know that either Liz. But for goodness sake WHY was he parked in the middle of the lane? Was there a side of the road? I probably would have done the same thing and he should NOT have been rude.

10:18 PM  
Blogger kj said...

liz, i have to tell you my cop story.

i am late for an appointment and lost in a construction area. i pull over to a cop to ask for help but he impatiently waves me on, in no uncertain terms telling me to keep moving.

it is summer and hot. my car windows are open. i drive forward, throw my arms in the air, and yell inside my car, "thanks a f--ken lot".

he pulls me over. asks for license. i am furious. i ask him why he has pulled me over.

"obscenity to a police officer, maam"

i say, Oh, officer, I wish I could bully someone like this after they've been mean to me". i am livid. i sit, wait and fume.

after a few minutes he returns with my license. he hands it to me, no ticket. he leans over. he says,

"Now kj, what can i help you with?"

when i get to my appointment i tell him this story. he tells me he is a prominent attorney in town, was pulled in for rolling a stop light, held in a holding cell for 12 hours until someone tells him his registration mistakingly came up as expired.

apology? no way....

one of these days i'm making a citizen's arrest. it may land me in jail, but so be it.....


10:26 PM  
Blogger Roxanne said...

Good for you (the finger under the dashboard)!

I probably would have done the same thing. Even though there are some very nice officers out there, unfortunately there are also plenty that get a power trip.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

He put you in an awkward situation by parking there. He had probably had a fight with his wife that morning or something...the rudeness wasn't justified by anything you did.

12:45 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Did I mention that I have a very vivid imagination? After he motioned for me to go ahead, I imagined proceeding down the street and then being dragged out of my car and arrested for evading a police officer.

Maybe I've watched too many episodes of COPS, eh?

kj- did I ever tell my story about flipping the bird at what turned out to be a cop in an unmarked police car? It was about five years ago. Not one of my shining moments as a human being, but at least it makes for a funny story.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do we get so nervous around cops? I know that if I see them on the road I try to drive more properly, ie maintain the speed limit.

I try to remind myself that cops are here for our protection not our harrassment. They serve the public. People forget they have rights as soon as the menacing lights come on. Of course we must behave a certain way and give them respect because there are crazy wackos out there that they deal with on a daily basis. However, some cops are human and have "bad days" still it doesn't give them the right to abuse their power.

My husband had balls enough to demand a cop's name and number for pulling him over when it was the officer who violated traffic rules. The officer didn't realize he was messing with a lawyer and became very asshole-y with him saying, "Well, I was going to let you off with just a warning, but now..." To which my husband replied, "Try it, you have nothing to stand on." Afterward, he went to his office, fuming, and reported the officer. He later received an apology from the Sherriff's office.

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, he was an asshole for no good reason. jerk

9:30 AM  
Anonymous sunchaser said...

Definitely need to be careful using profanity around coppers. They'll remember it later! (even if it is well-deserved). It was one of the few tickets I've ever gotten, and he did give me a ticket for "evading" because I wanted to stop in a lighted place. Hello! Cop impersonators aren't unheard of & being a single female driver & late at night - is it wrong for me to want to stop somewhere safe? So yes, I used the "A" word on that occasion when he wouldn't listen to my (I thought) reasonable reason for not stopping immediately.

Fortunately I got it taken off, but he definitely remembered my using the A word! :P

I have had cops come up behind and turn their lights on wanting me to move over so they can pass me.

10:46 AM  
Blogger His suzy said...

I probably would've just gone around him and kept going after he waved me past. But what you did makes for much better blogging fodder! :)

11:52 AM  
Blogger R U Serious?? said...

WOW!! Lots of interesting comments! I would have done exactly what you did (including the flip off) so I guess that makes both of us idiots.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Kay said...

If it were me, I probably would have gone around him because a.) he seemed to be waving like he wanted cars to pass him, and b.) I would have reasoned that I didn't do anything to deserve getting pulled over. But that still didn't give him any reason to be rude (or to park in the middle of the street). You were being extra careful, and you should have been commended for that!

I have to agree with Janet -- cops are often very hypocritical when it comes to driving. They're the "do as I say, not as I do" type.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Frema said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Frema said...

I would have waited for a bit, too, especially if flashing lights were involved. To me, flashing lights = ticket and possibly police brutality.

(I guess I'm paranoid around them, too!)

10:13 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

hmmm - all very scary, I have heard the story of someone who was deaf and couldn't communicate easily with the cop and so reached into the dashboard compartment for a notepad and pen, only to have the cop get nervous and pull a gun on him because he clearly thought that the driver was going for a gun!!

Btw, this is my first visit to this blog and I love it! (it would appear that librarians are a blogging lot!)

7:35 AM  
Blogger Uncle Phatato said...

That's how I give the finger, always :)

11:53 AM  
Blogger Gunfighter said...

Librarians give people the finger and use profanity?


Oh, I'm sorry... One of my dearest friends is a librarian... and I'm a cop.

Anyway, good of you to try to do the right thing. The officer probably put his lights on to indicate that he was stopped for some sort of police activity that required him to be sitting there (I'm just guess, of course, I wasn't there).

As for giving him the finger under the dash... probably the best thing to do.

I hope this doesn't sour you perception of all of my brother and sister officers.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Gunfighter: not at all. My uncle is a cop, so I know there are plenty of good ones out there. ;)

1:21 PM  

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