I slated to meet a friend on a day off. I arrived on site well before her and there was enough rain that I opted to purchase an umbrella. She arrived, and we watched movies, grabbed some food, and I walked her home. We rounded out late enough that there were no more cabs, and I blew my spending money on everything Queen of the Damned I saw. So I walked home. I was happy for the umbrella because it was about a two hour walk, and I now had electronics that were best not soaked. I was about halfway home when… I’ll let you guess.
I was happy my day had gone so well. The rain and cold were not dampening my good cheer. The officer that had stopped me told me that someone had called in something suspicious and I matched the description. Fair play, in this instance. A figure at one in the morning walking briskly through the rain, visible due only to the bright stripes on an overpriced umbrella is rather stand out.
The officer wanted to check my story, so asked for my ID. I proferred it, and after handing it to him inquired if I could at least stand somewhere a little more sheltered. The officer felt it was best if I stay where I was. So I stood in the rain for however long it took for him to get feedback. He came back out, returned my ID, and got back in his vehicle and drove away. I continued my walk home without incident, though my friend worried that my ‘Home Safe’ message was thirty minutes after my projected timeline.
At this point, I have been living on my own for six months. In that time I have had four encounters with police. That is about once every ninety days or so. In this telling, I have not begun driving, but I wish to draw a comparison. According to my experiences, I am just as likely to be stopped by the police while driving due to a perceptible fault (speeding, driving with expired tags, running a red light) as I am for simply walking.
Even when I give to the police that they are just doing their jobs, look how it seems to one person. To have several different instances with different officers in different jurisdictions during different times of the day, while I am dressed in a variety of different outfits while still being stopped leaves me a tad prickly. The only two things being the same are my being involved, and my somehow “matching a description”.
These are direct instances. This does not account for all the times I was buzzed while walking. Being able to noticing three cars driving in such a way that I would see one every couple of minutes. All of these instances together gave me an aversion to walking. At this point in my life I had to. I there were no alternatives. But once I got a vehicle I became fearful of walking.
There was no one in my life that I could talk to about this. Most I knew had gone from being driven around to driving themselves around while still in high school. No one walked as much as I. And, in my circles, people only encounted the police when they had erred in some way. However, these instances weigh heavy on me when I see encounters with police that others suffer.
I, as a child, never interacted with the police. I, as an adult, do not understand at least half of the times I have had to deal with the police. Sure, I am still alive. And I think I will continue to persist. But I do not believe that the police require a prerequisite to stop me. And in trying to ensure that I have no on-their-clock interactions with law enforcement, that is a maddening truth to hold.