The man in the uniform

November 9, 2009

What is it about authority figures that conjure such fear in humans? They’re not superhuman. They don’t prance around in tights and a cape. They don’t wield divine wisdom or strength.

And yet, there’s always that twinge of fear or nervousness when a cop car looms close by.

Or maybe instead of claiming fear, you claim denial. Denial that cop cars cause you any trepidation. You experience no momentary pause in your thoughts. No slight quickness of foot off the gas pedal. Denial that, regardless of these individuals’ lack of physical strength or wise thoughts, they carry power in their backpocket. In fact, they hold enough power capable of ruining our day, our record or even our future.

Case in point: I was blissfully driving the other day with a friend. A friend that always makes me slightly concerned for my safety when she’s at the wheel. And considering that on this particular day she was eating an egg mcmuffin sandwich, her percentages got uglier. So I selflessly volunteered to drive her car.

I will carry the denial flag and claim that when I noticed the police car pull up beside me, I did not feel a moment of nervousness. Sure, I glanced at my speedometer. I was going 5 miles under the speed limit. No need to worry. So I put him out of my mind and continued chatting. I then notice he makes a quick move saddling up behind me, and I still don’t break a sweat. His lights go on. I look at my friend. What could I have possibly done?!

I’d like to make a break in my story to comment on the power of abiding by the law. Knowing that you are not doing anything to get in trouble for does a great deal for a person’s peace of mind. A great way to cut down on anxiety.

Back to story: I’m still feeling rather peaceful as I slow down, preparing to converse with the man. Wondering if he plans to compliment me on my excellent driving practices.

That’s when my friend drops the bomb. Her tags are expired. Not just a week or two, but three months expired. And as the driver of the car, I take the heat–something I was previously unaware of.

I will spare you the gory details of my penalty, but I will end with the thought that policemen, while they will no doubt continue to incite fear among countless law breakers and law abiders alike, they are just people. They can be kind and considerate. But also harsh and unyielding. The best antidote: a clean conscience.

And maybe a sweet smile.