Maybe I need to explain more about why I wrote Stubbornness.
When I was young, the police had a lot more leeway than they do today. They could stop citizens and query them about their purpose in being where they are, they could demand identification, they could intimidate fairly freely without having to explain their intent.
This has been shown to be Unconstitutional behavior. The police now have to have what is called probable cause before bothering citizens. Yet, at the same time, we expect the police to protect us from those who would victimize us and are angry because we think they ignore what we think is obvious criminal intent.
In addition to the incident I experienced and wrote about in Stubbornness, I had many similar interactions with the police during my teens. I was stopped while driving many, many times. In only a few rare instances were these stops because I was violating a traffic law. Most were merely because I was a teenager driving a car at night.
In a common procedure when stopped the officer would look throughout the car, including the glove compartment and trunk, while holding your driver's license so you could not simply drive away. My friends and I, thinking we were clever, eventually performed a routine when stopped.
We would pull over, open the glove compartment, all get out of the car and stand by the open doors, while the driver would open the trunk and get out his driver's license. All before the officer requested it.
This did not endear us to the police. It did not reduce the time we were detained on the side of the road. It lengthened it.
A friend would, on occasion, step out of his car when pulled over and stand there by his car with his hands raised in the air. When the officer would tell him to put his hands down, he would inform the officer:
"No sir. You have a gun and I do not want any misunderstandings to happen."
This did not improve his relationship with the police. It may have increased the number of times he was stopped.
What we were practicing was something I like to call over cooperation but is better known as a mild form of passive-aggressive behavior.
While I was in the Navy, I had occasion to be placed on Shore Patrol Duty for a couple of 30 day stints in the States and for shorter periods (one night stints) overseas. These assignments were not voluntary. But they were educational.
What they taught me was that people look at you differently when you are in a position of authority. They react differently to what you do and say than they would to another citizen. It also affected how I viewed the people I had to interact with , or that I might have to interact with. These latter changes were important and necessary for me to perform my job safely and properly.
However, I quickly learned that I was not cut out for a job in law enforcement. I did not like to view people in that way and it bothered me to do so. Yes, there were rewarding moments and feelings of having performed a useful (and necessary) service. But they were heavily outweighed by the other, darker, feelings.
It changed how I interacted with the police from then on. I have, since then, done my best not to make their job more difficult.
Someone commented on the Stubbornness column:
Until you walk a mile in the other guy's shoes...
I think I have. I think it should apply to one's perception of everyone else, including one's perception of the cop trying to do his job.
Don't judge people by the color of their skin, the language that they speak, or the uniforms they wear.
Rodney King said "Can't we all just get along?" and many have made fun of that remark. But it is a good question. I think we can, if we all try and if we all realize it is not the other guy's responsibility to get along with you.
A Night Unremembered
2 years ago