Wednesday, December 09, 2009

In Which a White Laboratory Professional Gets Treated Like a Black Person, and Doesn't Care For It. Not One Bit.

I hate to juxtapose two unrelated topics when it's been so freakin' long since I posted on even one topic, but I have two things on my mind, and's my blog. I can juxtapose my heart out and no one can stop me. Ha.

Thing one:

Last August I got pulled over on I-57 on my way home from work.

It was midnight-ish. I was driving 62 in a 65, wearing my seat belt, with all lights on the truck in good operating order...I knew I was in good shape. I saw the lights behind me and pulled onto the shoulder. The cop got out of his car, approached my window, and asked for my license, registration and insurance card. I wasn't sweating it because as an evening shifter who frequently comes home from work at about the time the bars close, I've been pulled over a few times on random drunk checks and I assumed this was that.

After a few minutes he brought all my paperwork back and said, "Have you been drinking tonight, Ma'am?" I told him no, I was on my way home from work at the hospital.

He stood there at my window for a while. He shined his flashlight into my truck. He stood there some more. Finally, I said, "What?"
And he replied, "You veered over the white line."
"Which white line?"
"That one", he said, pointing at the shoulder.
"No I didn't," says I, indignantly. "There's a rumble strip over there. If I had crossed the line, I would have rumbled. But I didn't. So I didn't cross the line."

At this point, my routine traffic stop got weird. The cop said, "Don't fucking lie to me! Get out of the vehicle!" I still thought he might think I was drinking, so I got out and prepared myself for a field sobriety test. What I wasn't prepared for was to be spun around, pushed against the side of the truck, and cuffed behind my back.

The cop continued yelling. "Don't fucking lie to me! Do you know what that is? That's obstruction of justice! You just bought yourself a ticket to jail for lying to a police officer!" Then walked me back to his car and pushed me into the back seat.

Did I mention I've never been arrested in my life? I've never been handcuffed, never even been in the back of a police car except the time my girlfriend forgot to pick my up at the Cape Fear Crocs game and a Fayetteville cop invited me and the kids to sit in his car to get out of the rain until she showed up.

So I was shocked into silence by the whole thing. I said, "You're kidding!" when he put the cuffs on, but that was it. So there I was, sitting silently in the back of the police car while he continued to yell at me, thinking what the hell? Can this actually be happening?

"Do you want to go to jail? Because that's where you're going. Lying to a police officer is a serious crime! And you won't see a judge before tomorrow, so no one is going to come down and get you out!

In between threats, Cop was studying a small computer on the dashboard next to him.

He asked me, "Do you still live at this address?"
I told him no, we'd moved to Cairo twelve days earlier and I hadn't yet changed my license.

"Don't fucking lie to me! There are no white people in Cairo! What's your real address?"

I gave him the address in Cairo and said, "Look. You can follow me home if you want, and watch me stick the key in the door."

He went back to his computer.

"Are you related to these people?" he finally said as he swivelled the screen around so I could see it in the back seat. "They're my kids." I said.

He ran his finger down the screen and rattled of a list of their various (traffic) crimes. Then he said, "What are you doing about this?"
"Not a damn thing. They're adults. They can take care of their own stuff."
"You're not a very good mother, are you?" he said.

Okay...NOW I was pissed. Handcuffs, insults, screaming accusations...ok. But denigrate my parenting? Oh hell no. Don't even go there. The next time he offered to take me to jail I said, "Fine. Have at it. If people go to jail for crossing the white line, then get on it. I'm ready."

He didn't reply, and continued studying his computer screen for a few more minutes. Finally, he took out his ticket book and wrote me a ticket for improper lane usage, and wrote "Lying to a police officer" in the comments section.

He got out of the car, opened the back door, pulled me out, removed the cuffs, and told me I could go. He was a big guy, so I had to look up to see his face. I said, "What's your name?"
"Officer Gibson, ma'am."
"Officer Gibson, are you a state trooper?"
"No ma'am. I'm an Ullin city police officer."
(What was with the "ma'am" all the sudden? Five minutes ago I was a pathological line-crossing liar. Now I'm "ma'am"?)

I looked up at him and said, "Officer Gibson, I'll be back in the morning to see your boss. Bastard." I was glad my voice wasn't shaking.

I walked back to the truck on quivery rubber legs and thought I'll be goddamned if I'll stumble in front of this bastard. Then I got in the truck, buckled up, turned on my turn signal, pulled out onto the highway, and cried like a girl all the way home.

Six months later, I still think about it every night when I come home from work.

(I was wrong...I won't tell the other story today. I have to take a shower and go to work now, but I'll get back to it later.)


Jazz said...

How's that for abuse of power. What a dickhead.

Erika said...

Holy crap. My heart was pounding the whole time I was reading this. I'm glad it turned out as it did.