Traffic stops just another part of life

By Grant McGee: Local columnist

I’ve always had a healthy respect for the police. When I was a kid, I knew they weren’t to be trifled with. As an adult, I have a respect for the job they do and I still know they aren’t to be trifled with.

I’ve run across various names for the police. For instance there’s “John Law.” I remember the first time I heard that term. I was a kid hanging around my buddy Catfish’s house when his dad came home in a mood because he’d gotten a ticket.

“John Law pulled me over,” said Catfish’s dad.

“A policeman named John Law,” I said. “That’s cool.”

Catfish’s dad gave me a look and a smile. “No, boy, that’s just what I call the fuzz.”

“The fuzz,” now that was a name for police I had heard; it was from my dad listening to Brother Dave Gardner records. Brother Dave Gardner was a Southern comedian who was popular in the late 1950s and early ’60s. If you remember Brother Dave you probably have a knowing smile. His records were made up of lively stories about Southern characters including “the fuzz;” mirrored sunglass-wearing guys who pulled up in their cruisers with huge “fishing pole antennas” whipping back and forth.

I never saw much sense in arguing with the cops. I’ve known people who have, maybe you do too. The way I figure it, when the police enter into a situation, they’re in control.

It’s like that time I got a ticket outside of Roswell for not wearing my seatbelt. I was toodling along for a Sunday drive when a state police officer passed me going the other way. I looked in my mirror and saw him slam on his brakes so hard his rear end raised up.

“Oops,” I thought to myself, “my day for revenue enhancement.” Sure enough, he did a u-turn and was quickly on my tail with his lights on. I pulled over.

“You’re not wearing your seatbelt,” said the cop.

He went into detail about contesting the ticket if I wanted.

“No, that’s OK. I’m not wearing my seatbelt,” I said. “So I should pay the fine.”

The cop smiled. “I wish all my traffic stops were this easy.”

He told me it was a $38 fine (this was 1990). As he drove away, I was more mad at myself for having to fork over $38 than anything. I paid the ticket the next day.

So when I get pulled over it’s turn off the engine, pull out all the paperwork, say “yes sir,” “no sir” (or “yes ma’am,” “no ma’am) and accept whatever is going to happen as part of life.

Traffic stops can be learning experiences too. For instance, ever since I got ticketed for not wearing my seat belt I always wear one … I don’t want to pay another fine. I’ve also learned to come to a complete stop at stop signs, periodically check all the lights on my car to make sure they work and get the speedometer fixed when it breaks.

I know I couldn’t be a police officer. I can see me working a traffic stop now: “Yes ma’am, I’m sorry you’re having a bad day. I’ll just tear up this ticket.”

Men and women who do police work have a “calling.” Very often they put themselves in harm’s way. I salute them for all they do.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at:
blisscreek@plateautel.net