Arnold Williams (notebuyer) wrote,
Arnold Williams
notebuyer

The Face of Fear

That's not a title, it's a description. The described, in this case, was a woman who had stepped into a grocery store for some milk for her little girl after the sun had set, and had the bad judgement to think that parking in a fire lane next to the store would make it faster. It was that placement that caught the eye of a local policeman, who promptly zoomed in, lights flashing, walked around the car trying the doors to the distress of the little girl, and who waited the two minutes it took for the woman to come out again behind the car, seething.

When she returned, it was to hear the policeman say that not only would she get a ticket for parking in a fire lane, he was calling child protective services to pick up her daughter, who had been endangered by locking her in a car, and that she was going to jail. That was the face of fear: a woman who had made a mistake, and a policeman in the evening who was determined to make her pay for inconveniencing him. It didn't matter that the law about locking children in cars had been enacted in response to deaths in hot weather, and that this cool evening it would be better to be in a warm car; he had his laws, and that was enough. She would learn better than to make him wait for her. He kept his flashlight in her eyes while asking if she were drunk, or high, and then, ludicrously enough, asking why she was nervous. (As if it weren't obvious: she had just been threatened with the loss of her daughter, her freedom, and probably her job -- if she were calm and self-possessed in such a moment, she might have been high.)

This played out for a half hour, with him writing and making calls in his car, getting her to sign things without letting her read them (not that, with the light in her eyes she could), and culminated in a declaration that she would go to court in January for the fire lane violation and child protective services would investigate her and see if they could take her daughter. Was this the best way to handle things? No, but it was the way a frustrated policeman got to take out his anger on someone who could not argue back. I'm a little worried about his wife, myself.

Crossposted to Las Vegas
Tags: pen portrait
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