Yes, you read that correctly. Not only have I pulled myself over, practically forcing the cop driving behind me to also pull over and find out what I'd done, I've done this twice. (And no, for the record, I do NOT have a thing for cops and do whatever freaky thing I can think to do in order to meet them. Firefighters, that's a different story. But cops, no.)
The first time I pulled myself over I had just moved back to California from Ohio. I was driving my aunt's car home from work, and I pulled into the middle of an intersection, yielding to the oncoming cars so I could make a left turn. It wasn't until I'd entered the intersection that I realized there was a left-turn signal light that was out on the signal just ahead, but I could see a red left turn light on a signal off to the left, previously unnoticed. So I went ahead and made the turn, but I pulled over to the side of the road because I figured the cop who was right behind me would be pulling me over anyway.
He did pull behind me and came asking for license and registration, and when he saw I had an Ohio license, he let me off with a "well in California we have these things called left turn arrows." I went along feigning ignorance and fascination with this "left turn arrow" concept, relieved to be going home citation-free.
The second time I pulled myself over, I was driving along a poorly paved road in Colorado and a patrol car was driving behind me. I don't know why I always get nervous when there are cop cars behind me, even though I'm not doing anything illegal. It was driving behind me for the longest time, and I was becoming more and more unsettled by the mile. Finally, I started imagining the car was flashing its highbeams at me. I think it was actually just variations in my perception of the light as a result of all the bumps the car was driving over, but still I managed to convince myself that this cop must be trying to send me some kind of brand new, secret sign for "pull over."
I slowed and pulled off the road. Most likely out of sheer curiosity, the cop pulled over behind me. After a moment, I heard his voice on the car's loudspeaker.
"MMmionwen jgoijeoa gijt;ijathd," it said.
I rolled my window down to try and hear better. "What?" I shouted backward.
"Ghowajenl l oij lj wetw; ija ;ijwh t;oi ajglijt?" said the muffled reply.
I leaned my head out the window and yelled as loudly as I could, "WHAT??!!"
The answer came back clear as a bell this time: "WHY have you stopped here?!"
"OH!" I yelled, "I KEPT SEEING YOUR LIGHTS MOVING AND I THOUGHT YOU WERE FLASHING YOUR HIGHBEAMS AT ME AND I THOUGHT YOU WERE TELLING ME TO PULL OVER!!!!"
There was a short pause. Was that laughter I heard? (there were two cops in the car).
"Glkjafojupjf lkj eniae o j e;ojip." the voice said.
"What??!!" I yelled.
"WE DIDN'T STOP YOU!"
"OH!," I shouted. "Sorry."
Now, if I were that cop I would have surely gotten out of my car at that point to find out what this girl was feeling so guilty about, but I guess that cop had more interesting things to do. He instructed me to pull back into traffic and I went along on my way, the cop taking the very next right turn and disappearing out of my life forever.
Having had so little interaction with law enforcement, I consider myself heretofore incredibly fortunate.
Well, until Friday night, that is.
On Friday night, a cop came to my door asking for me by name. Hey! How's THAT for new activity?!
I won't get into the details right now (rest assured I am in no kind of legal trouble), but the cop was sent on a false pretense by somebody, having to do with the unpleasant business of this coming week, which caused the stress that gave me the desire to see the acupuncturist. Whew.
This cop was soooo polite. First, he asked to speak to me in private since his business was with me and not everyone else there. I didn't mind that others were there; they were my family, but he didn't know that. In the hallway, he stated the reason for which he was sent and, in the same sentence, indicated that he was well aware of the likely red herring/false accusation nature of the caller's so-called concern (the timing of it was particularly suspect). Having come, he could see the purported concern was unfounded, and he let me know his report would say as much.
Having never been specifically sought out by the police, I was pretty unnerved to have an officer show up at my doorstep and ask for me. However, I was incredibly reassured and put at ease by this officer's demeanor, his respectfulness, and his excellent bullshit detector. He left apologizing for having disturbed me and wishing us all Merry Christmas.
I am well-aware of some of the very good reasons that law enforcement gets a bad rap. There is no doubt in my mind that there are racist, otherwise prejudiced, power-tripping, Napoleon Complexed, sadistic, and dishonest policemen and women out there. You could say this about every profession, but it is likely true that the nature of law enforcement tends to attract more of these types than is found in the average workforce population. I know the reasons many people have for loathing and for fearing law enforcement officers are well-founded and incredibly upsetting.
However, being part of the workforce myself (profession unimportant), I also know how nice it can be to be recognized for good work (I work at a bank for goodness sake. People LOVE to hate on the bank. So any positive feedback I get from customers--or that my boss gets about me--feels very good). All leading to
Today's New Activity: A Visit to the POPO Department
One of my reasons for heading to the police department was to get a copy of the police report the cop filed, as it may actually work in my favor during the unpleasant business. However, the MAIN reason I went was so that I could tell whomever it was who should know how much I appreciated the conduct of the officer who visited my house.
While I didn't imagine I would be the first person to ever have the inclination to give some props to the cops, I was surprised to find in the lobby of the department (which was closed anyway but whose lobby was open and full of helpful info) a whole stack of brochures titled Commendation and Complain Procedures for Members of the Public. Sadly, the complaint section takes up three folds of the brochure and the commendation portion only one; I suppose that's a sign of how things usually go. But I figured that was all the more reason why the officer in question's supervisor should be aware of how he was appreciated.
I am not trying to say I am doing any kind of great deed by recognizing this officer to his superior, but I really really wish people would do this sort of thing more often. In my experience, customers are often so eager and in fact excited to bitch someone out or talk about how poorly they were treated. Why aren't they similarly fired up about their positive experiences?
I know that sharing how happy you are doesn't carry the same umph as a complaint about injustice (!). I DO understand that. But I also think that a simple shift in frame of mind can turn that around...that we can choose to get as much satisfaction, or more, from spreading positivity instead.
So with that...I'm just sayin'....Thank you, Officer.