I was pulled over today.
You might think to yourself, “Damn, Don, that stinks. But what does it have to do with running?”
I was pulled over while running. Lights blipped, officer calling out to me. I immediately assumed the best, because I come from a family that generally respects and supports police officers, and let’s face it, I’m a middle class law-abiding white guy. Nothing to fear. So I assumed that the officer was pulling over to make sure I was alright, to offer me a ride if it was too cold for me to run home in the light falling snow. I assumed he was my friend.
“You need to move over more.”
“You need to move over more, onto the side of the road. Especially with the snow like this.”
“But… the snow…”, I gesture helplessly at the treacherous and completely ungroomed shoulder of the road.
“I’d rather you get your feet wet than you cause an incident and get killed.”
“Be more careful.”
By this time I was boiling with rage. I am respectful, even deferential, in my dealings with police, because I respect the work they do, the constant abuse they take, and the stress of their job. But I was on the verge of losing my cool. I ran off, finished my 3 mile run, and walked a long cooldown.
I cannot believe it. I cannot believe that an officer of the law saw me in the road, had the reaction of the typical inconsiderate motorist, and thought to himself, “Wait, I’m a cop, I can tell this guy to get out of the road,” and reached for his lights.
Sure, maybe he thought he was doing me a favor, making me aware of the danger of running on a snowy evening. However, it sure didn’t sound like it. It sounded like he thought I was a prissy dry-footed iconoclast who was endangering a bunch of cars because of my audacity to run in the road. It sounded like he thought I was worried about getting my feet wet, not about falling and hurting myself, turning an ankle and falling into the road. Not about getting hit by the cars who, apparently just like him, have no concern for how close they are to me, except that if they get farther, it might cause an “incident.”
I have been shaking with a feeling of being betrayed, pretty much since. I’m one part mad, one part betrayed, and one part disappointed that I didn’t say something to him, something to defend my own use of the road, the amount of work I was doing to keep myself visible and safe, and to convey that the cause of any incident would certainly not be my soft fleshy self on the side of the road, running at under 6mph, but more likely the folks driving on snowy roads at above the speed limit. Luckily, they were protected from the inconvenience (and, I presume, paperwork) of killing me by the fine people of the Belleville Police Department.