Friday, October 30, 2009

cops are people too, you know

As a new (6 months now!) police wife, I learn or realize something new everyday. Not everything I learn or realize is pleasant. Some are, however. For example, I just recently realized that I am no longer afraid of cops. This is huge.
The other day, I was driving down the street and a cop pulled in behind me. Usually when something like this happens, I slam on my brakes or do something else to draw attention to my vehicle out of nervousness. And then I say out loud to myself, "idiot!". I was surprised at my reaction. There was no heart acceleration, no sudden jerky movements, and no sideways glances. I thought it could be a fluke, so the last few days when I would drive past a cop, I would test myself some more. "I'm not scared of you! You're just like everyone else." But the final test was when loud sirens erupted near by and instead of panicking and thinking I'm about to pulled over and thrown against the hood of my car, I silently prayed that wherever this officer was headed as he zoomed past me, that he would be safe from harm. That's what the sirens do to me now. "Please be careful", I silently think as I imagine that the officer responding has someone like me waiting for them at home. This has been an unexpected response.

So I used to be scared of cops. Like, really scared. I like how Roanoke Cop calls it the "blue flu" when people do crazy things they wouldn't normally do when they see a police car. That was me. And I know it. When I was a newly licensed 16 year old, I was driving my parents minivan home and I saw a cop pull in right behind me before I got on the freeway. My immediate reaction was a jerk of the wheel because my heart just about leapt out of my chest. Of course, seconds later, I got pulled over. When she came to my window, she looked surprised. She said, "Oh! You're not a drunk person" She thought I was a drunk driver because of my awesome driving skills. She let me off and just told me to be careful. I was shaking for an hour after that.

Even when I'm not the one driving, or even if I'm pushing my kids in a stroller down the street, there's this voice in the back of my mind that tells me that they are going to arrest me for whatever reason. Maybe I match a description, or I looked at them funny as they drove by and that must mean that I'm hiding something. I know many experience a degree of nervousness, but mine is a little more amped up than the average person I'd say. Up until recently when I would drive past a cop, I would tell myself to breathe and I would chant in my mind, "Don't look over 'cause it will look like you have shifty eyes!" or, "Stay calm and they will drive past you. You don't have anything to be worried about. You have nothing to hide." My guilty complex would even insist that I smile and wave, but then thank goodness my rational self would step in and say, "you will do no such thing!".

I know. You think I'm a crazy person. Besides having some moderate anxiety issues, I don't know why I would react this way. A professor in a psychology class I took addressed this. He was talking about Learned Response and actually used the example of when people see a cop car. The majority of people almost always slam on their breaks even if they weren't speeding. Most people realize they are being silly. I even realize that my reactions were silly, but for some reason I couldn't react normally after seeing a cop. I wondered if HF would have that effect on me. My heart did spasm out of control the first few times I saw him in uniform or in his patrol car. At first I couldn't tell if it was fear or attraction. Maybe it was both. My heart freaked out when the professor was describing the scenario!

Here's where I document all my interactions with the police. I realize they are not a big deal now. It was mostly in my head. Hypochondriac.

When we got married, we moved to Kansas City, Missouri. I had a California drivers license with my maiden name on it, and I decided that I would get a Missouri ID card with my married name on it for the time being, because we were going to be moving to another state in just a few months. So fast forward a couple years later. I still had my CA drivers license, my Missouri ID card, I'm driving my husband's car with Virginia license plates, the insurance is under his mom's name, and I'm living in Nevada. I get pulled over for doing a CA roll through a stop sign. Daisy is in her car seat, 18 months old. The cop asks for license and registration. I give him the VA registration, my Missouri ID card, and my California license with a different name on it. He looks everything over, and says, "Let me get this straight. You have a drivers license from CA with your maiden name on it, a MO ID card with your married name on it, you're driving a car with VA plates, the car is registered to your mother-in-law in Virginia and you live in Nevada? I just smiled at him and said "yes to everything". He just shook his head and said he's be right back. When he did come back, my daughter had unbuckled herself and had climbed to the front seat and was sitting on my lap behind the wheel. I thought, "This is it. He's going to haul me off to jail, my daughter will have to go to CPS, and HF will have to bail me out." He just gave me a ticket for driving without a license because I should've had a new one by then for the state that I had been residing in for the past couple of years. At the time, I was unwilling to give up my CA citizenship.

A few months later, I was at home in our little 600 sf apartment and there was loud banging on the door. I opened it up, and there was a gigantic police officer standing there, holding HF up, who had looked like he had just been pummeled. He said in a booming voice, "DOES THIS BELONG TO YOU?!" It was such a confusing moment. Then the cop started laughing and explained that they had done pepper spray training that day and he was just bringing him home (HF had a job at the time that required he carry OC and the police deparment did the training for that). I had no idea what HF was up to that day and I thought he was in some kind of trouble. I guess the look on my face must have been priceless.

When I was dating a cowboy in a small town, we were always getting pulled over or approached by the local law. That always majorly freaked me out because they always knew who he was because of past dealings. Turns out he had an extensive history going back to his early adolescent days. His grandfather loved telling the story of how one morning he was reading the paper and saw on the front page that one of his granddaughters was being recognized for an accomplishment. On the back of the paper his grandson was being fined and going to court for shooting a fox not only on someone else's property, but it was illegal to do so anyway. Whenever he got pulled over and I was with him they always asked me if I wanted to be there. That embarrassed me. Girls love a bad boy don't they? Still, I imagined that the police there had started some sort of file with my name on it. I felt awful being pulled over so many times with this guy. I didn't want to be associated with his past.

One day I brought HF lunch. One side of the building was under construction. The other side that I could access was for police vehicles only. He told me that he would meet me out there and grab his lunch and that it was okay if I pulled in there briefly. So I did it. I was saying softly, "Hurry up HF". Then of course a group of officers come out of the door, one of them was the chief. He looked at me, blocking his car, and gave a disapproving look. I wanted to throw up. He had no idea who I was at the time. He came over and tapped on the passenger side window and asked if I needed help. I just smiled uncomfortably, and what came out of my mouth was unbelievable. I blurted out something about dropping off HF's lunch, blah blah blah. I had no control of my mouth. He looked confused for a moment but as soon as I said HF's name, his face lit up and he went on about how awesome he is (HF's his Golden child). I felt like an idiot for days but I'm okay now.

Once again, I realize I was being totally irrational and ridiculous, but the point is, I don't experience police anxiety any longer. Only when it's to do with my policeman and he's telling me about a scuffle or something, or I see him on You tube (which has been twice. same night, different videos).


KD said...

"At the time, I was unwilling to give up my CA citizenship."


I have the same problem, it still hasn't abated even after 6 years of LEO wifeness. Probably contributing to this is that I have even gotten pulled over for NOT breaking the law. ugh! have a great weekend.

The crazy Shaw Family said...

at least you have embraced your disorder... lol!
Hugs, you are definatly not alone.

LOUDnPROUD♥MĂ“KneeKah said...

glad your got over your anxiety cause it sounded pretty bad. I do tend to wave at a passing officer or make eye contact,NOW,I don't think I would if I wasnt a pw.
I've seen my deputy in action and it brought a mixture of emotions;anxiety,scared,tense,relief,PROUD.

Anonymous said...

OK, the whole time I read this post I was waiting for the part about cows. Because when I first read your post title, I read "COWS are people too" It wasn't until I was totally done reading that I went back to re-read the title that I realized my mistake.

As for the anxiety, I have it too. My grandmother had a big thing with being scared of cops and passed it on to me. The first time I had to drive it front of my new cop husband and he was in a squad car I about died. But now I realize, like you, that cows, whoops, I mean, COPS are people too!!

911 and the Randomness.. said...

Glad that you are over your anxiety! I tend to wave at them or drive like an idiot on purpose when I'm around DH.. :)

Slamdunk said...

Glad your comfort level has changed for the better. The biggest change for the Mrs. back in the day was when she saw two patrol units parallel to each other and the officers talking. Before she thought they were must always be plotting speed trap locations or something important.

After the police exposure, she realizes that they now are likely talking about sports or complaining about the sergeant.

firefighter / paramedic said...

So, about 1/2 way through the 4th paragraph I was wondering if you were a crazy person. But you cleared that up in the 5th and last paragraph. Thanks for the stories! FF/PM

KD said...

firefighter / paramedic: you mean she cleared it up that she is in fact a crazy person in the "5th and last paragraph"?? :)

just kidding mrs fuzz!!!

mrs. fuzz said...

Ha Ha FF/PM and KD. Now I feel so vulnerable sharing my vulnerabilities. I'll never share anything again!

KD said...

oh no. :( 30 lashes with a wet noodle for me then!

I'm sure you know that "it takes one to know one" so..... :-O what does that say about me?!?! lol.

Stacia said...

Found your blog by random and love it! I have been a 'cops wife' for 3 1/2 yrs now... He's a city officer and works the night shift. We have a 6yr old girl and 4yr old boy and one on the way. I can't wait to check out more of your blog! This post was too funny and right on.... I now say a little prayer when I hear those sirens too...