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Trucker's Journal

I've been a trucker since November, 2004. Before that I was an accountant for many years. I'm having fun and actually making more than I did before. Go figure....

Name:
Location: Midwest, United States

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Perceptions

You've probably heard Paul Harvey on the radio before with his famous line, "And now, for the rest of the story." Well, here, you aren't going to get the rest of the story because I don't know it. In fact, this is going to be as if you turned on a one hour television show at about 10 minutes past the hour and then got an important phone call 30 minutes later and missed the end of the show. But, I can't help that since I don't know it all.

I was cruising through Battle Creek, Michigan a while a few weeks ago on I-94 on my way to Kalamazoo when I saw police lights on the right shoulder from several hundred yards back. I wasn't close enough to see what was happening yet, but knew that the law stated I needed to either slow down or move over to the left lane. There wasn't much traffic and I had an open space available, so I moved immediately. I also slowed down slightly just to be safer--and so I could see what was going on. Yeah, I'm sometimes curious myself about what problems others have. As I neared, I saw that it was a van parked in front of the police car and there were people standing outside it. One was a man about 25 or 30, a woman about the same age, a child about 4 or 5 standing by what I assumed to be his mother, and she was holding an infant. The man was being handcuffed as I--and what appeared to be his entire family--were watching.

OK, show's over, there's nothing to see here, move along. I went on by and wondered what the story was. Was he a murderer with an outstanding warrant who just happened to be pulled over for speeding and got caught when his name was put into the cruiser's computer? Did the policeman spot something illegal in the back seat? Was he married for the second time and didn't pay his child support to the first wife? There are so many possibilities and there's no way to know which one was true.

The "Perceptions" title comes in when I ask you how your view of that scenario would have played out in your mind depending on who they were, how they were dressed, what they were driving, etc. We all have our preconceptions or prejudices and they play into what we think about others well before we know any facts.

What if I said they were white, dressed in ragged jeans and tie-dyed T-shirts and were driving a VW bus with flowers and peace signs painted on it. Would you immediately say they were methamphetamine dealers?

What if they were Hispanic, driving a 20 year old van with rust all over--would you think they were illegal immigrants with no proof of citizenship?

What if they were Oriental? What would your first impression be?

What if they were black, had dreadlocks and Bob Marley shirts? Pot merchants, for sure, right?

Well, I still can't tell you what the crime was or what happened later, but I will tell you what I saw. They were very well-dressed black people in a minivan about 7 years old or so. The kids appeared to be well-behaved and clean, mom was in a nice dress, and dad (in cuffs now) had on a business suit and tie. For those with prejudices, this may seem to be impossible. Well, as Sgt. Friday used to say on Dragnet, "Just the facts, ma'am." I'm telling you what I saw, I'll let you think about your perceptions and what you would have thought if you had seen that little drama unfold before your eyes.

2 Comments:

Blogger Elayne said...

My perception in those cases is usually environmental. I would always assume, no matter what race or gender, that the driver was being stopped for speeding and, if arrested, was being arrested because the cops found some outstanding violation while they were checking the speeder's license plate. I guess it doesn't occur to me that a cop on a highway would be arresting a driver for something that wasn't related to driving.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Trucker Dude said...

In most cases, you're right. But there are so few traffic violations which require immediate arrest with the use of handcuffs that in this case I believe we have to think about something worse since handcuffs usually imply something quite serious, on the order of a felony. I certainly wish I knew what the real story was there. I see a *lot* of people stopped on the side of the road since I normally drive between 2,000 and 3,000 miles a week. Sometimes it's readily apparent what happened, but most of the time you're reduced to guessing. I'm more of a logical type, but without good input, my output is bad.

8:16 AM  

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