It was well after dark when those red-and-blue strobes appeared in the mirrors of your friend’s car. As she pulled over to the side of the road it all began to sink in, this could be it. You had barely stopped moving when the cop added another white light to the mix as his pillar-mounted spotlight obliterated any remaining place to hide. You instinctively sink lower into the rear seat of that hybrid sedan attempting to melt into the fabric itself as he suddenly appeared alongside the vehicle.
Great. A white cop. You need to record this, he’s going to kill you. That’s what the news says.
You have your phone already going, catching every moment, as his flashlight penetrates the heavily tinted windows. He looks straight at you and pierces your soul from behind his muted old glory face covering, or was it a smile? Hard to tell in these COVID days.
He peers into the front seat as well, shining his light on your driver and another friend as he begins to speak. His skin matches the driver so she’ll be fine, but the rest of you are dead. You know it. That’s what they tell you.
He says she was going 25 miles an hour over the speed limit; that can’t be right. But, she agrees she wasn’t paying attention as you guys were lost in conversation about your road trip. When he asks her to roll down the back window so that he can see clearly your heart leaps, your inner voice screaming “No, no, no!”
He raises a hand toward you, here it comes, this is it …
Wait, he simply waves at you.
It must be the phone, he saw it recording, that’s why he didn’t shoot you. He must have also seen your friend’s phone on her lap in the front passenger seat; “911” entered in the dial screen, her trembling fingers awaiting one more click.
You’re all so scared and nervous that she’s handing him sales paperwork instead of the registration and insurance he’s asking for. Get it together, don’t make him mad, he will kill you. But, he doesn’t. He kindly explains what the paperwork should look like and helps her sort through it. He asks everyone to pause for a moment and take a breath with him, you all settle just a bit. He finds what he was looking for and steps away, disappearing into the darkness. But, he said he’ll be back, that’s when he’ll kill you.
He’s gone for what seems like forever and suddenly he’s back again. How does he do that? He just appears out of nowhere to kill you. But, he doesn’t. He talks to your driver again and even gets her to laugh, you laugh as well. He talks to you like a dad, a white dad but a dad nonetheless. He explains that there are gigantic animals out here and that your little Prius won’t save you in a high speed collision with an elk or a moose. He speaks to you with a level of respect that brings all of your guards down.
Suddenly, you are smiling and joking. He doesn’t have a huge ticket for your driver, or any ticket for that matter, he simply has a conversation. He gives her the paperwork back and then pulls a business card from his pocket and hands it to her. He reintroduces himself as “Deputy Xavier” and then explains the steps needed to file a complaint on his conduct or concerns about the stop. You laugh. All three of you laugh out loud. Why in the world would you complain about this type of cop? It’s hilarious and you tell him that. You thank him for his attitude and kindness as you turn off your video recording.
And then, he’s gone. Back into the darkness and for a moment all three of you just sit there. What just happened? The bright white light goes dark and the strobes quiet. Your eyes adjust and your heart starts to calm. He’s still back there, waiting. Waiting for you to pull away and offering some rear light coverage to help slow traffic for you to pull out again.
He didn’t kill you. He didn’t even yell at you. In fact, you think you kind of like him. How odd?