The water was like glass. The leaves vibrant. The afternoon light infused the trees with a holy glow. The whole time I was worried. I made a lot of extra nervous noise. Occasionally, I clapped my hands for no apparent reason. You see, it was hunting season and this lake is right on the edge of the property and I was warned that hunters are sometimes in the meadow not far away to the right.
The beautiful scene was upended by the threat. As I walked through the woods I could not get out of my mind the story of the accidental shooting last week, when a hiker was mistaken for a deer and shot. I know it is rare, but I still could not shake the feeling that people were hiding in the woods with their fingers on the trigger and I might just be in the wrong place.
I got pulled over last week. I was taking Chris Stapper back to DFW for his flight home. It was about 5 PM. I pulled out of a parking lot at Grapevine Mills mall and drove about 100 feet and stopped at a light. A policeman pulled up opposite me and immediately turned on his lights came through the intersection and whipped around behind me. He blew his horn and indicated with his hand that I needed to turn. He was coming after me. I turned right onto the side street. I looked for a way to pull off the side road on into a parking lot, but he blared the horn at me again and so I stopped in the road.
He charged out his car. I assumed he believed me to be a criminal, someone fleeing a crime, I must match a description on the police radio. He came to my window. He was so angry. It was very intimidating. It was scary. I kept my hands on the wheel. I did not move until he told me. He got my license. He tapped information into his phone like he was chiseling through concrete. He lit into me. He was furious that my highbeams were on.
It was still bright outside and I did not even know my lights were illuminated. This is still a new car to me and I'm not used to the way they automatically turn on with the ignition. In addition, the blue high beam indicator is obscured by my sitting position in the car. It is behind the steering wheel. I slouched down and saw the light. I apologized.
He left and got back in his car. He came back. He was still angry. He explained to me that he wanted to give me a ticket and that this was one of his pet peeves. I apologized to him. I explained about the automatic lights and the obscured indicator. He told me again what a dirtbag I was. He explained that even though I was driving my own car, the fact that I had a CDL meant it would go on my record, it would cost me money and there was nothing I could do about it. He printed out a piece of paper. Finally, he stated it was a warning. He shoved it into my hands and stalked away to his car.
Chris and I were shaken. We both commented about his anger. It was the most intense angry encounter I had ever had with a policeman. I certainly was breaking the law, my high beams were on, but I was not doing it intentionally and he took it so personally as if I was attacking him. I left the encounter shaken by the magnitude of his anger and a feeling that this is the fear other people have when they meet the police. I have never really felt it before, I have a number of good friends in law enforcement, but it reminded me of the feeling from the meadow.
When people met us do we create an environment of fear or peace? Isn't this what our culture is facing, a serious reconsideration of people with power and how they exert it over others? I say we pray the prayer of St. Francis more often,
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.