Profiling

The little-red-truck-that-could [LRTTC] continues to roll on with no apparent plans to implode anytime soon.

I just renewed my yearly vehicle registration [some things never go away!] so the 1994 Nissan and I have just reached our first anniversary. She and I have formed a quick and steady friendship and are bracing for our first open-air winter [read ‘garage-less’] just ahead. While not much to gaze upon and certainly not the most luxurious ride in town, the LRTTC has faithfully transported me from point A to B and beyond without a hiccup one!

We recently, however, had an encounter that was a first for both of us. In my daily commute between UPS and RPI, a very observant Frankfort policeman was kind enough to protect other innocent motorists by pulling me over. Having been mocked on numerous occasions for driving like a man twice my age [by my offspring among others!], I was curious about why I was being apprehended. “Because you failed to use your turn signal at that last intersection,” came the rationale. “Really?” I thought, but I chose to employ my typical strategy when a peace officer and I discuss such matters: do not say/gesture/imply anything that could make a memorable impression. So he strolled back to his vehicle, ran my plates/insurance, checked my record, and then offered me this bit of encouraging news:

As I pulled away, it finally dawned on me what just happened: I was a target of vehicular profiling. The condition of my truck fit the officer’s perception of a “problem person” so he stopped me on ‘probable cause’ to investigate whether I was a clean, upstanding citizen or the drug-pushing, insurance-lacking, law-breaking menace to society he assumed I was.

I told my story to the VP at Richardson Products who moonlights as an auxiliary officer for a local police department and he confirmed my hunch. I fit the ‘profile’ and I was stopped because of my little red truck. And yes, this has been an emotionally taxing couple of weeks for the LRTTC but she continues on despite the anguish…

There is a much deeper lesson here about prejudging and faulty perceptions and how blatantly wrong we can be about others, but I’ll save that for another post. Besides, I’m far more guilty of being the officer than the guy sitting in the little red truck…

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