Last night, my husband and I went to Chicago to see “Beautiful,” the musical about Carole King in Chicago. It was so great. I cried more than once. The singing, the story, the songs: all stunning. After the show ended, my mouth hurt from smiling.
It was after 11 when we left Chicago. We were exhausted (we barely make it to 9 pm these nights...#newparents). We hustled to get home to pick up our son from the babysitter.
And we apparently hustled a little too much. A cop pulled us over for speeding. Fair enough, officer. Fair enough. But what happened after he told us that we were speeding made us livid.
He informed us that we were drunk and would need to be picked up and driven home. He also said we had the option to perform a field sobriety test, but that we definitely weren’t going to pass it, so we should make the call to be picked up. The “proof” that we were drunk was that we had red, glassy eyes (also the fact that I took a long time finding my insurance card in my wallet).
My husband and I were stone cold sober.
We had red glassy eyes because we are new parents who are extremely fatigued. I couldn’t get to my insurance card quickly because I was straddling my breast pump. Needless to say, we took the field sobriety test, and of course, passed.
I threw out a bunch of expletives under my breath, hoping he’d arrest me for something. I would have loved to go to jail, give those guys a piece of my mind.
Again and again, I’m in this situation: people see something, and then assume the worst. Red eyes = stoned or drunk. Attractive woman = unintelligent. Black man = criminal. These stereotypes are hard to break once they’re formed. And they form quickly. I have to admit: it’s going to be pretty hard for me to break my ever-hardening opinion that Police Officer = immature child on a power trip.
But I won’t let it. We really must fight these urges to make everybody fit a bill. Our society cannot progress if we assume the worst of every person. False accusations are so damaging. And so I’m on a mission to keep trying to give people the benefit of the doubt. (Yes, even you, Badge #8261).
And with that, I’m heading out to walk the dog. Reader, I hope you’re staying safe and warm tonight. I’ll see you back here next Sunday. -Em