Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Past, The Passing Lane, And My First Chase Scene...

Nineteen Ninety Three, between tenth and eleventh grade...

Thirteen Summers ago, I'd been driving for several years and had owned an actual driver's license about six months.

Early one morning on my way to Color Guard Practice, a white Chevy Corsica pulled out in front of me like he didn't even see me coming. Right. Out. In. Front. Of. Me. Since he'd just blundered right out there like he didn't even see me, I just stayed right on his ass. Right. On. His. Ass. I'd noticed the car had the brown tag that said "city" across the bottom, but I didn't figure it was a Cop, because Cops have the Big Cars, like Caprices and Impalas and Crown Vics. I figured the jerk in the Corsica must've been a Meter-Reader or something like that, 'cause first, he drives like a jerk, and second, it's a Corsica... After a couple blocks, the Corsica pulled off into a parking lot and pulled right back out behind me with red & blue lights flashing from the dash and visors.

He gave me an old-fashioned ass-chewin' about "Tailgating," but he let me go. From this experience, I learned not to tailgate the ones with "city" tags, and I also noticed, "Hey, Law Enforcement Cars have Brown tags..."

Yesterday, on my way Tulsa, I was fighting the usual US75 traffic and fighting the frustration of wondering why so many people haven't figured out how The Passing Lane is supposed to work. Somewhere along in there, I'd passed a white Crown Vic that looked like an ex-Police Car, all white, dark glass, couple antennas, still had the spotlights over the mirrors and even had the Ford "Police Interceptor" emblem on the decklid. I went ahead and passed it because it had the Green lettering on the tag just like every other "Civilian" car, three letters, three numbers, that's it. In the back of my mind, I thought of a guy I used to know who was into that whole Security-Cop-Wanna-Be thing and how he used to buy up all the lights he could get to deck-out his Mom's Lumina; and I thought of how irritated the Real Cops must get with those wanna-be's buying the old cars at the auction just so they can drive around feelin' like Billy-Bad-Ass.

After I'd made it around the Crown Vic, there was a mini van blocking the passing lane. Once the van finally moved over, I got on the gas a bit (just a bit) to move on along like I'd been waiting to do, because that's what we're supposed to do when we're in the Passing Lane -- move on along. But before I could move on along, the white Crown Vic pulled forward from beside me and gave the left signal one blink before jerkin' it over in front of me like he didn't have a clue what "check your blind spot" meant. And alas, instead of moving on along, he hit the strobes for just a minute.

Yeah. Strobes. White strobes just like out of the catalog, in the taillights and the back-up lights.

That's when I got irritated. Not only does this Cop-Wanna-Be drive like a jerk, now he's fuckin' with me with his strobe light kit. Seriously, real cops are aware of their surroundings, including their blind spot -- a real cop wouldn't cut over in front of somebody like that! As we got close to the Highway 11 exit ramp, I put my blinker on to take the exit -- I'm sure he went for the exit just as he saw my blinker in the mirror. I grabbed an ATM recipt off the visor and wrote down the tag number just in case, then I pulled out my phone as we went up the ramp. I had punched the 9 but then thought I'd wait, 911 has more important things to deal with than some wanna-be drivin' like an ass out on the highway. People drive like asses out on the highway all the time, but 911 is for when things are on fire or people are bleeding...

When we got to the top of the ramp, I checked over my shoulder and there was not a thing comin' up 11, not a single car -- so I put on the right blinker, mashed the gas, and moved over to pass the other cars that had been in front of us on the ramp.

The white Crown Vic moved over behind me with the strobes on again, and an actual siren this time. No light bar, no red spotlight, no blue lights, no red lights; just the white strobes in the park lights and headlights. The wanna-be-cop wants to try to mess with me. I remember the news articles about "Impersonators" grabbin' women off the highways that way... At a reasonable 55-or-60, I go ahead and call 911. It takes six rings for 'em to answer, and three more rings once the first operator transfers me to Police.

He stayed right on me, lights and all, and I took the Yale exit. As I talked to the 911 Operator and waited for traffic to clear so I could make a Left, I held my phone up in the middle of the car hoping that would be enough to scare off the wanna-be. ('cause hey, the phone scared off the road-rage-n___ who followed me to work a few years back) It didn't work. He stayed close down Yale and the operator told me to look for a store to stop at. I told her I didn't want to get out unless there was a real TPD Cop there, and I gave her play-by-play as he went on through the intersection when I pulled into the Shell Station at Pine Street. I went through the store's parking lot slow and easy and stopped as I came back to the exit to pull back out onto Yale. While I was waiting for traffic to clear so I could pull out, he crept through the pumps and pulled back up behind me. As I got back to the light, it was Yellow, so I stopped.

The operator asked for my tag number, and when I told her, she said "It is a TPD Officer, you can pull over now."

He was wearing khaki's and a polo shirt with a TPD Badge embroidered on it, the shirt showed some age, but at least he did have a TPD Photo ID hangin' around his neck.

I am a "Mad-Woman," and he also managed to work in "Bat-Outta-Hell." He asked me why I was "all over his butt," and though I wondered why "Hell" was okay but "Ass" was not, I didnt' ask. He mentioned "Hundred-dollar ticket," but said he wasn't gonna write me up and that he understood why I didn't want to stop for the unmarked car. I can't help but wonder if maybe he knew he'd kinda provoked me when he'd been a bit of a jerk back on 75...

As I handed over my license and insurance, I asked him about jerkin' it over in front of me with very little room and told him that's why I was so close, 'cause I thought he was gonna speed up and move on along. Ten years ago, I probably couldn't have seen myself saying something like that to a cop. Ten years ago, I'da been a total kiss-ass in hopes of wrangling a little kindness when it came time to write the ticket -- but ten years ago I'd never spent a night in jail after begging a County Deputy not to take me in. I figured this guy couldn't haul me in for anything I said, so why not say what was on my mind? Let's face it, I'd already lost quite a bit of respect for this guy while he was drivin' like a jerk and lookin' like a wanna-be. Sure, he can write me a ticket, but what if I take it to court? And even if I can't get out of it, I'll pay it just like all the others -- I haven't had one in four or five years, I've got a little cash stashed just in case.

I still wonder if that was his own car though... Green Tag? Seriously. I'd just about bet he was on his way somewhere else when he ran onto me.

The "Moral Of My Story" is this: First of all, know your car so you can tell the person who answers 911 how to find you -- know what kind it is, and what your tag number is. "I Drive A Blue Car" won't help anybody find you 'cause there's a million blue cars on the road. If you don't have a cell phone, please think about getting one. If you can't call 911, just go someplace where there are lots of people, like a BIG convenience store (I'm thinkin' QuickTrip), not some dinky little one-camel quickie-mart. Don't stop for anybody unless you know for sure it's a real Law Enforcement Officer. Here in Oklahoma, the City Police Department's cars have white tags with brown letters and say "city" in raised/stamped letters across the bottom. The County Deputies' cars have white tags with brown letters and say "county" in raised/stamped letters across the bottom. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol's cars have white tags with black letters and say "OHP" or "state" in raised/stamped letters across the bottom.

If it's got a white tag with green letters and "Oklahoma, OK!" or "Oklahoma, Native America" in printed/painted letters across the bottom, it's just a regular car just like the rest of us drive.

Anybody, Anybody who's over 16 can walk right in the gate, and anybody who has the cash can go to a City Of Tulsa Auction (held every May and every November) and buy an ol' Police Car. If they have a little more money or halfway decent credit, they can bebop right into a Ford Dealership and order up a shiny-new Police Interceptor.

Anybody with a credit card or a checkbook (even if it's somebody else's checkbook they stole from somewhere) can grab a catalog or click a website and order up anything to do-up that car to look as Police-ish as they please. I get a catalog every couple months where anybody can order absolutely everything it takes to look the part -- they'll sell anybody the radios, guns, flashlights, handcuffs, tazers, beatin' sticks, and even the belt to carry it all in. They've got the vynil to deck out the car, they've got the dressy shirts and pants and nice shoes; you can even special-order your own Badge. They sell everything but the dog, and they sell it to anybody -- the flashlight and the handcuffs are in my car right now. They make their money by selling the stuff, not by asking the tough questions.

My Heroes have always been regular people; like the uncle who convinced my mom that a bee-sized bee tattoo was not a horrible offense worthy of kicking a good college kid out of the house; or the friend who convinced me to "go on and get a doctor appointment and get checked out, it's not gonna be so bad;" or even the total stranger who found me after I crashed the truck and held my hand and picked glass out of my hair while we waited for the ambulance. A Hero is someone who makes a dramatic difference in someone else's life -- sometimes by risking their own, sometimes not.

Not every Cop is a "Hero." Cops are just like any other professional group, there's all kinds of 'em -- Some are funny, some are, quick, some are lazy, some are absent-minded, some love their jobs, some are burned-out, there are a few pricks in the bunch, a few heroes, but most of 'em are just regular folks tryin' to do their job so they can pay their bills. Most of 'em are probably countin' down 'til time to clock out just like everybody else who wants to go home and have some dinner.

I still think the one I encountered yesterday was a bit of a prick, but I hope he doesn't end up with somebody who pulls a gun on him, 'cause hey, everybody's got a Momma, and no Momma should have to deal with that.


More later... _\,,/


Anonymous Anonymous said...

F'n "A" You said it all there.....
Thanks, this needed to be said!

9:35 PM  

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