There are a lot of cops on the road these days. At least in my neck of the woods. Today I saw at least five along a mere ten mile stretch. They park tucked away behind buildings or next to trees, waiting and watching, like predators in the wild who camouflage so not to be seen. This makes them all the more frightening to prey- like me. But today? Today, as I turned to make a U-turn into a shopping plaza, I saw a cop car right where I needed to go. He sat by himself in a dark blue car. Blue and white lights flashing at full speed parked smack dab in the middle of the parking lot like a peacock wearing a sparkly boa. He wasn’t investigating anything. Wasn’t pulling anyone over. He wasn’t on the phone. He was just sitting there with the lights flashing like a funky disco. Cars driving down the road at normal speeds screeched as they saw the lights and proceeded to drive past him at a humbled pace. Punk, I thought feeling a familiar frustration I feel when I see cops proudly wield their authority around like a caveman with a batting club. Does he get a kick out of sitting there with his flashing lights flexing his power and authority? Watching people slow their cars to snail’s pace out of fear? But then it crossed my mind. What if he hates having to give tickets? And instead of hiding like an owl hunting mice to catch the unaware he decided to flash his lights to warn everyone of his presence. I suddenly pictured a timid guy, wiry build, sweating profusely and biting his nails, hoping that drivers would slow down so he could avoid ticketing, a task he disliked deeply. Perhaps he hoped his mere presence with flashing lights to boot would cause everyone to slow down and drive safely and thereby he could accomplish his purpose without giving tickets. Perhaps what I saw as arrogance was in fact, kindness.
Or maybe he parked to eat a burger and his elbow accidentally hit a button.
I guess the point is I don’t know. But I thought I did. And I judged accordingly. Unless I actually tapped on his window and asked him, I just can’t be sure. [and you will find me tapping on a police officer’s car with such questions basically never] It surprised me how quick I was to presume what I saw as an undeniable truth when there were in fact other possibilities. Maybe a lesson to me, to think twice before I presume to know what lies in the hearts of others.