Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We ARE in Kansas, Todo

Got contraband, old lady?
So I'm about 12 miles west of Salina, Kansas, in a rented car with my almost 91-year-old Mom and my 64-year-old wife. I'm driving the former to Baton Rouge where she's moving in with my brother. It's been a long trip from Denver already. This Kansas State copper pulls alongside of me, gives me the eyeball, drops back and hits the lights. I pull over and the dude walks over to my mom's side of the car and tells me after I fumble with getting the window lowered--didn't know the car and fumbled with controls the whole day. Anyway, he tells me he's stopped me for--are you ready for this??--not using my turn indicator to signal lane changes.

He asks me for my license. Asks me if the car's rented (How did he know? We figured out later it has to be some code in the license plate number.) Checks out the rental papers. Wants to know where I'm going and why. Says he's going to run my license and if it checks out, he'll write me a warning ticket. While he's back there in his cruiser, another cop drives up beside him and sits there for awhile. (I wondered if I'd been reported as a possibly dangerous character with two lady cohorts, one near-ancient, the other obviously beyond poster-child status for the over-50 set. Not to mention fairly greying me, age 68.) The other cop leaves after a while, and the first guy comes back and gives me the warning ticket, and oh, by the way, do you mind if I look in your truck because there has been a lot of "contraband" crossing the country. (Why, hell yes, I frigging mind, think I, but I'm not going screw around with this yahoo; that's a no win game.) So we go to the trunk, and he finds it crammed with luggage (naturally!). I was sweating it like hell because I had two cases of wine in the trunk--is it not illegal to carry alcohol across state lines?-- and I would have been royally pissed if he said anything about that. But the wine was at the bottom of this spacious trunk, under all kinds of other other stuff, so he either doesn't see it, or less likely, decided not to say anything. But he does want to know what's inside a big roasting pan Susan is bringing home. I have to show him it's empty. He wants to know how my mom's stuff is getting to Baton Rouge. When were we going to get there, and some more questions I can't remember. Can you believe this?

Fact of the matter is, I was just being rousted. With my driving cap and pony tail and patterned tee shirt, I fit his and every other cop's profile of suspicious, and probably dangerous, character. Thus the hassle. Don't start me on the surpassing idiocy of it all, or on the fact that this is a clear example of police profiling--no way in hell I get stopped if I've got a high-and-tight Marine haircut--that one has no choice in such a situation but to allow this violation of his 4th Amendment rights (what would have happened if I said no to the trunk search?), that this situation happens all the time to the disadvantaged in our society. Don't start me.

Need I tell you that incidents like this don't particularly beef up my trust in cops?
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