Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sandra Bland’s Story is a Punch to the Heart   

An hour after sunrise, driving home from a poetry festival, going west on the Florida panhandle section of on U.S. 98 between Perry and Carrabelle, alone in my old Buick, alone on the highway, (two-lanes in that part of the road) alone except for a state police car, or a sheriff’s car, some kind of official vehicle, (I never look carefully when I pass them because they don’t worry me) pulls off the road to my left. I check my speed limit because my old Buick likes to go when the roads are straight and empty like this one. Seems okay to me.

His lights are on behind me. I figure he’s on the way somewhere important so I pull to the right as far as I can so that he can pass me. He doesn’t pass; he pulls up close and then a blue light flashes and the penny drops. He wants me. Me? I pull over and wait for him to come to my window. Roll it down for him. My wonky heart’s thudding. He peers at me then smiles.

I fumble out my license and registration. He smiles some more and says I was doing 67 in a 55. I’ve just seen a sign so I say, surprised, I thought the limit was 65. He says it’s 65 here but it was 55 back there. So I say I’m sorry and wait for the ticket. But he doesn’t give me one. Let’s me off with a warning. I let him drive off first, then continue my trip home. I really want to get home, now.

So I think about this. I drive around with my Obama/Biden bumper sticker still proudly displayed. I have longish darkish hair; it hasn’t gone gray yet, although it should have by now I guess. Who did this officer (of some authority or other) think I was? Did I surprise him? My face has no fierce edges now and indeed it was never one to frighten people. What exactly was I afraid of, anyway? Because he terrified me for those few minutes. He fucking terrified me. My road trip ended a few hours later when I pulled into my driveway in Panama City Beach; safe, sound, white.

1 comment:

Mathew Paust said...

Held my breath throughout. Let it out in a gasp of relief and admiration when I reached "white."