I really want to be clear about that. I know cops. I’m friends with cops. I’ve been there when there have been absolutely awesome police on the scene, I’ve been helped by police, and I’ve seen when police have been in completely unenviable positions that would have driven me nuts or driven me to quit the job. It’s not easy being a cop. No questions. However, that said, there are bad cops, just like there are bad teachers and bad doctors and bad people. You can’t have a perfect police force any more than you can have anything be perfect when it comes to human involvement.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…
Yesterday, I was driving home from Austin. The traffic was horrible. Google kept telling me that the time to get home was going up, not down. The road was jammed, and it was not getting better. I was exhausted and in a bad mood. When Google popped up an option to take time off the drive, I jumped on it.
Which, it turns out, was a mistake.
The side road wasn’t bad, but there were a lot of jumps in speed because it was going through a small town. In Texas.
The last sign I saw said 55.
A cop appeared behind me, speeding up towards me so fast that I thought he had his lights on to pass me. But, nope, when I started pulling to the side, he pulled with me, and so I went into a parking lot (off the road), and he came around to talk to me.
I’ve been stopped before. Most of the time, the cops are decent human beings, doing their job, and if I’m friendly to them, they’re friendly right back.
Not this time.
This guy was rude as could be and told me that it was drivers like me who caused the traffic on the highway by taking the back roads. (I’m still not sure how that’s possible, but whatever.) He questioned where I was going, where I was coming from, and why I was in his town. He never once smiled.
He told me I was doing 63 in a 50. Yeah, I’m still going to argue that I never saw a sign that said 50. I admit that I often speed, but even I know better than to go almost 15 mph over the limit on a backroad in a small Texas town. I might like to go fast, but I’m not stupid.
He took my license, went back to his car, came back with a ticket, and got me to sign off.
End of interaction.
I was annoyed. I’ve been driving for over 20 years, and that was only my second ticket. And the way he gave me the ticket – the questioning about things that were really none of his concern and telling me off for having the nerve to drive through his town – I was tweaked.
But I was also lucky.
Lucky because I was a white girl driving with two other white girls in the car with me.
People say they don’t believe in white privilege, but I think I was part of a good example of it. If I had been Hispanic or black, what would he have said? Would he have questioned me further about why I was there? Would he have asked me to exit the vehicle? Would he have asked to see my passengers’ IDs? Would he have asked to search the car?
I can’t say that he would have done any of those things.
Maybe he was a good cop having a bad day, and he was just as annoyed as I was. Maybe he had a headache, just like I did. Maybe he wanted to be at home, just like I wanted.
I couldn’t help but think, though, that even though I got a ticket for almost $200, I got off lucky. Because I was white.