Law Enforcement Has Always Scared Me
I love that they sacrifice their lives and time and energy to protect my family and our community. I strongly dislike that every time I see one I get nervous and my heart starts to race and I immediately assess what I have done in the last 24 hours and if any of my actions have broken any laws.
We have a police man who lives on our street. A few houses up. He and his family are very nice. Regardless, Every time he drives by, even in his "regular" car, I get nervous and worried and start looking around my yard to see if there are any glaring misdemeanors. There isn't, but I still worry.
My parents always taught me that police men/women were there to help. And in theory I know that. Doesn't matter. My fears only escalated when I turned 16 and started driving. It probably didn't help that that same year I was with some friends at a park past curfew. I didn't even know there was a curfew. My parents knew who I was with and were I was (they didn't know there was a curfew either), but when the police showed up and every one started running for the hills, I decided then that me and cops, no bueno. (I don't speak Spanish was that correct?)
Until last Saturday, when I wanted to hug every Police Man and Highway Patrol man within a 500 mile radius. I wanted to call their wives and girlfriends and families and thank them and take them dinner.
You see, last Saturday I was driving home. On the freeway going 75 miles an hour. All by my myself, which is very rare. I was 25 miles from my house. All of a sudden there was a GIANT popping noise. And I mean giant. I looked in my rear view mirror to see what I could see. All I saw was something small bounce away behind me.
"I must have run over something", I thought.
Everything seemed fine and I kept on my way.
Then it happened. About 45 seconds later. Just like in the movies. There was another HUGE explosion sound, the car dropped violently on the left side and started to rock and shake. There was so much smoke I couldn't see anything behind me. I grabbed the wheel, and felt like I was in an action adventure movie.
"I am going to flip", I thought.
I knew I needed to pull over to the right hand side, but I was in the fast lane and there was no way I could make it that far. On the left, construction, so the best I could do was pull over to the little strip on the left. You know the one I am talking about. The tiny strip up against the cement dividers they put up in construction zones. Needless to say my SUV was basically stopped in the middle of the fast lane on I-15 southbound. Not good.
By this point I was white knuckled and shaking. I grabbed my phone and called my husband. That is always what I do when something goes wrong and I am scared or need help.
He asked if I was okay. And then asked if it was safe to get out of the car and see what the problem was. I couldn't, I was too close to the cement barriers. I rolled down the window, stuck my head out and could see that the back drivers side tire was flat. Not just flat, but BLOWN OUT. Yes, just like a big rig tire you see in movies. We later found out that the force of the blow out caused me to loose 4 bolts. Yep, nothing was connected.
I told me husband what I saw and he said he was on his way. My knight in shinning armor. He had all three kids and I knew it would be 25 minutes until he was there.
Now, I know how to change a tire, but in a dress, in the fast lane. Wasn't going to happen.
My nerves started to calm down a little. It was hard to relax when cars were weaving to miss hitting me. I kept thinking about those late night cop shows where the driver gets out of his car on the side of the road and another driver hits him. I was sure that was going to be me.
I couldn't understand what had happened. Our car is only a few years old, a Toyota, known for reliability right? And we are very attentive to its check ups and needs. After about 10 minutes of prayers and more prayers, I looked in my rear view mirror and low and behold there was a Highway Patrol man pulling up behind me. All of a sudden I got the nervous and I started to rehearse my alibi.
"I am sorry officer, I tried to get to the right side of the road but the car was going to flip and I did my best, and my husband is on his way, I am sorry, I am sorry."
He couldn't come to my window, the cement barriers remember. So he motioned for me to stick my head out. He explained that three other officers were shutting down traffic a mile behind me (on the freeway?) and that he needed me to "slowly" move to the right side of the road. Before I could process what he said my alibi started pouring out.
He kindly looked at me. "It's okay," he yelled, "let's just get you moved so you are safe."
I was barely able to get the car to the other side of the road. The next thing I knew, traffic started again and 4 patrol cars were surrounding me. Oh, the nerves. Do I get out of the car. Do I make them come to me, will they give me a ticket, will they be mad?
On the contrary. They kindly had me step out of the car and we started talking. I told them my husband was on his way but it would be a few minutes. They explained that they could have me taken care of in 10 minutes and on my way. They didn't want me hanging out on the side of the road. Not safe.
So, one patrol car left and three officers converged on the car. They showed me as we went the steps for changing a tire, I was attentive, they made space in the back for the blown tire, they told me that I was lucky I didn't flip, and that I had left debris all over the road. They were patient and kind. They even apologized for not getting to me faster.
To add insult to injury, when they put the spare on, it was flat. Go figure, so then they called a maintenance truck with a generator to come and fill it will air. They waited with me and then escorted me back on the freeway when it was time.
I felt like a complete dork, but a very appreciative dork.
I told them thank you a million times. As we waited for the maintenance truck I asked it they had to change a lot of tires. They laughed and assured me that I was not the first. I gushed and gushed, gratitude was abundant.
I tried to read their name tags, but was so unsettled the names never stuck in my brain. I regret that. I want to write a nice note, drop off some cookies, do something. If you are the wife of a highway patrol man and you are reading this, let me know. I will bring your family cookies.
For so long I have been afraid of these officers. I have always felt they were out to get me. I have wrongly judged. Then in one afternoon, my fear has changed to the deepest gratitude. It happened because they served me, protected me and went above and beyond to help me get back to my family in one piece. It happened because I actually got to know them.
I can't stop thinking about how this is life. How we judge and view others in a certain way, and then we have a real experience with them and realize how wrong we were. I have started to reevaluate to see if I do this in any other aspects of my life, or is it just with police officers.
We are all human, trying to do the best we can. For the most part, we are all kind and helpful and giving. Thanks to a blow out on the freeway, I will be thinking more about that.
P.S. Sorry I don't have a picture of the tire. I was way to upset to take one then and now it is under the other 3 tires in the garage and my husband is not home to move them so I can take a picture. So be it.