Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Truth About Cops

Why does anyone become a cop?  I've racked my brain plenty to come up with that answer.  It seems to be a popular choice.  Everyone knows at least one personally.  That's why I've got to be a tad bit careful about what I say because off the top of my head I could have in upwards of four offended friends.

But cops.  But policeman.  But law enforcement officers. get a bad rep.  And my little situation on Friday night is a perfect testimony as to why.

There I was going home from Jacksonville.  A drive that I've made too many times to have kept track of in the last three years.  And in the last three years I did manage one ticket on this drive. It was on Thanksgiving Day's night in 2005.  I was speeding.  I was definetly speeding.  I couldn't have known, though, because at the time, my vehicle's speedometer did not work and I was a lone driver on the road.  I remember that ticket very well.  I was tired coming back.  I kept dozing off and getting woken up by the bumping of my tires on the median, and when I got pulled over I was actually dozing off then.  I thought that I had ran a red light or something. Maybe hit a pedestrian or something in my near-unconscious state.  No, I was in fact just going about 35 over the speed limit - in Waldo, nonetheless.  

But back to Friday night.  I was just trying to get home.  I wasn't speeding.  I wasn't swerving.  I was wearing my seatbelt. My headlight was out. For the most part I kept my high beams on because traffic was thin.  This was of course Highway 301, and it was of course a late Friday night.  There's another town on 301 that you may not be so familiar with.  Waldo is the Tom Brady of speed traps. Wait.  That didn't make much sense, but I think it may have at least gotten my point across.  I'll leave it.  For the most part, though, Waldo has been quiet as far as I know.  I haven't heard any horror stories coming out of there in awhile.  But there's this other town.  They've got a stoplight or two.  It's cliche', but if you blink you may miss it.  Honestly, you might.  They've got a prison that serves as the main source of income for the town.  The other you may have guessed is traffic citations. Certainly the dilapidated convenience stores and po' dunk "restaurants" aren't adding much to the town's cashflow. And I cringe when I use the word restaurant to describe these incestual, redneck infested feeding troughs.  You'll know you're getting close because you'll see the billboards that read: Lawtey Speed Trap 5 miles.  One thing I never got was who pays for these billboards and why?  But the town is Lawtey, and look at me. Gabbing away, and I haven't even got to what happened.

I saw the cop parked on the roadside as I passed, and I saw the lights go on.  And my heart didn't sink like it normally does when I see police lights go on behind me because I didn't think I had done anything against the law.  I pulled off the road.  I went through the typical motions. The license.  The registration.  Everything checked out fine.  And then the officer walked back with citation in hand.  He said your headlight is out.  I should have said "I'm not f***ing retarded. It's pretty easy to notice when I'm behind the wheel and it's pitch black outside."  But I told him I knew.  I had only discovered right before I went to head home.  I told him I was just keeping my high beams on for the most part.  He didn't care.  He was a piece of shit cop.  A piece of shit cop with a cleft lip.  And do you know how much that ticket was for? $91! What the f***. Oh, but if I get the headlight fixed and have a cop sign off on my citation I can pay a reduced fine.  What's the reduced fine? $68! Oh, gee, thanks.  You piece of shit.  This wasn't even the end of my frustration.  

Wouldn't you know that when I went to leave and get the hell out of that stupid town, my car wouldn't start.  The cop got out his little voltage box to try to jump it, but that wasn't the problem.  Then he stared at me for a little while and I said "Umm...I was just going to call my dad and get this all figured out." And he stared at me a little more, and I said "Umm...was there anything else?" And he told me that my car apparently couldn't stay where it was.  I said I would move it.  He offered to help me push, and in a spiteful tone I told him that he had "helped" me out enough and that I would push it myself.  And then he said "Ok. 10-4, buddy."  First of all, I'm not your f***in' buddy.  Second of all.  I hope you don't make it home tonight.  That's what I should have said.  Because that's what I really hoped.

And over the course of the next 45 minutes or so while I waited for a ride back to Gainesville from AJ (which, thanks so much, man) I watched him pull over 4 other vehicles.  It seemed that every rush of traffic would leave behind a straggler.  

I actually got pulled over right next to the Lawtey city hall.  Wait.  It's the Lawtey police department.  Oh, wait.  It's the Lawtey fire department.  It's all three, and it's a mobile home practically.  F***in' piece of sh** town.

So the truth may very well be that there are some great cops out there.  And that's to be expected.  I've met some very generous officers in my day. I've gotten off the hook even, and I personally know some very generous officers.  Really great guys, but the truth is that it's situations like Friday night that ruin it all.  I've never been a big fan of cops.  Like I said, there have been those rare moments where a cop has let me breathe a sigh of relief and I'm not ignorant.  I know that there's a societal neccessity for law enforcement, but it's just sad.  It's a shame and a little bit ironic that the same people who are in a position to restore peace are also the target of so much fear and hostility.

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