Recently, I was driving home from a gig in Austin, Texas. I heard on the waze GPS two times that there were police officers ahead. I didn't worry about it because I was not speeding. Besides, I'm always at speed limit or within five mph above the speed limit, but I set my cruise control to be certain.
About five minutes later, I saw a sport utility vehicle barreling down the interstate behind me. I moved over to the right lane to let him through because I didn't want to deal with any road rage issues with this maniac behind me. Besides, this was not the first motorist I irritated on this trip because I was not driving fast enough. A little flustered I said to myself, "If they would just drive the speed limit!!" But, when he turned on those police lights, I realized it was a police officer's SUV. I woke my husband up while immediately pulling over to the shoulder and hoping my son wouldn't wake up, but of course he did. All kinds of thoughts racing through my mind, especially when you' re not doing anything wrong. As I was pulling over, I asked my family to get my license and insurance information. By the time I stopped, my husband was pulling my license out of my wallet, then the insurance information and my window was down ready to hand it to the officer. I did not want to give him any reason to discredit me as a law abiding citizen.
As I looked out the window in anticipation, I heard something on the passenger side and was a little startled to see the officer gazing from the passenger window where my husband was sitting. He smirked a little at my reaction, and I proceeded to hand my license and insurance information to him when my husband rolled down the window. He began quoting "underneath his breath" some Texas law I believe, but I did hear, "you were speeding". Then I asked as gracefully as possible, "How fast was I going officer"? That's when Dr. Jekyll became Mr. Hyde. He snarled and said in his provocative, threatening tone, "I was only going to give you a warning, but if I have to tell you your speed, I will have to give you a ticket!!" Oh Jesus!! This is so surreal!! My son!! My husband!! I wanna' live!! Yes all this going through my head at once as I gave a quick enough response to avoid any detrimental harm to my family. And yes, I opted for the warning. But, was I "seeing things"? Did he appear just a little agitated that I offered no resistance? He grudgingly said, "I just need your license and insurance". But, it was already in front of him from the time my husband rolled down the window. He also asked if my address were still the same. I said yes. He went to his vehicle, came back with a printed slip and asked me to sign it and I did quickly, as his body language said, "You better sign it now and not read it either". Then his last words to me as he pointed down the road, glaring at me, "You better watch out ahead of you, too". Then he hurriedly turned and walked away---still appearing irritated.
By the grace of God, I was able to keep calm, but just as thoughts were racing through my head when "Mr, Hyde" appeared, thoughts continued to race through my head all the way home and when I woke up the next morning, too. But, I didn't give in to fear. I drove all the way home for a total of 3.5 hours. I also had some "what if" thoughts and questions, too.
Some of my thoughts:
What if I were alone?
What if I had a dash cam?
Does he have video?
Was he trying to provoke me into irrational behavior to rationalize the stop?
Does he have every officer ahead of me looking for me and hoping to catch me doing something wrong?
Is it illegal and/or improper by any law or rules of conduct to ask a police officer for the speed he alleges I was going?
When I couldn't hear him in the beginning, is it a violation or disrespectful to ask him to repeat it? Or, was this part of the provocation?
What was he really looking for? (There was a LOT of traffic coming out of Austin on October 18, 2015. There was hardly any opportunity to speed and a lots of vehicles to choose.)
Did he think I was alone and was surprised to see two other people in the vehicle? (My husband and son were sleeping and not sitting upright.) Did their mere presence deter him from any further aggressive action?
With number eight in mind, should I now put cameras in all my vehicles, because sometimes I do travel alone?
If obeying all traffic laws don't stop it, what else can we do to avoid this? (I know I'm not the only one here!)
I must add that on our journey to Austin that morning, we stopped for breakfast-to-go and encountered a police officer in Temple, TX while exiting the restaurant. When the officer coming into the restaurant saw that my hands were full, he eagerly rushed to the door and held it open for me with a smile. I said, "Thank you". He said, "You're welcome." That experience left me with a smile and pleasant sense of security. Because of officers like him (and a few in my family, too), I endeavor to keep some sort of balance about me----being sharp as a serpent, and compassionate as a dove.
Joyce Spencer Music & Entertainment