June 10, 2021
While taking my daughter to work this morning I was pulled over by a police officer. I was in a nice area, as soon as I saw his lights I pulled over into the parking lot of a very nice shopping area and he pulled in behind me. I asked my daughter to grab my wallet, pulled out my license, pulled my insurance card up on my phone, the officer came to the window with a smile, asked for the usual documents, asked where I was going and I explained I was taking my daughter to work about 2 blocks away.
He didn't even look at my insurance, just waved it away. He took my license, I made a joke about the picture being awful and he laughed, said he would be right back. I fiddled with my phone, I had my dogs with me and one was getting a little excited over the prospect of a new friend.
The officer came back to the window, we made a couple more jokes back and forth and he said just make a call, take care of blah blah blah, all smiles and he just let me go.
Dropped my daughter off at work, this whole exchange took less than 5 minutes.
As I was driving home I started to think about what happened. I am an older, anglo woman in a pretty bougie car in a really nice area. When I saw the lights my first thought was that my daughter was going to be late for work. I didn't think about or rather didn't HAVE to think about our safety, if we were in danger, if I was going to be arrested or worse. I didn't think about needing to place my hands on the wheel and explain every move I was making. The officer, who was very polite and friendly, came to my window smiling, not suspicious, not wary, nothing but kind and understanding.
I have often wondered since childhood why I was born into the family I was born into, why in this country, why in this state. I never have had to worry about my ethnicity being dangerous. Gender, yes, but ancestry, not really. I have been the target of some racial slurs, etc, but nothing like what so many people are subjected to on a daily basis. I can imagine if I lived in certain countries that my ethnicity could elicit some prejudice, my appearance some racism or assumptions about me without knowing me.
Here in this country, I am almost invisible. I am thankful for that but also feel the weight of the responsibility to be a better person, a better human. To try to understand every other person's point of view, be compassionate and kind. To speak up or act when I see something that is very obviously wrong, I will not be quiet where there is injustice, if I am in a position to be helpful.
I believe even little things make a huge difference. A smile to a stranger, a hello, a genuine compliment, a funny anecdote that might make someone smile. I want to be a good human. I want to be a happiness pebble in a pond the size of the ocean. I cannot do huge life and world altering things. But I can do my little daily things in the hope that my smile or silliness might cause that ripple effect that radiates outward, that can bring a tiny bit of sunshine in a sometimes bleak world.
We have to do what we can to make the world better. To help our neighbors, strangers, friends, anyone who is on the receiving end of injustice, hatred, prejudice based simply on the way they look.
I am not sure I am really expressing all the things on my mind and in my heart today, I suppose my experience today just caused me to think about the bigger picture, how I was very lucky to not have the worries that so many other (unfairly) do, I hope that this one person can negate some of the negativity out in the world, in my small and tiny ways.