Several years ago I went to pick up my daughter from work one night. I pulled into the parking lot at the Winn-Dixie Supermarket, parked my car, turned off the lights and turned off the car. Since the store was closed, there were very few other cars on the parking lot. My daughter and the other employees were inside cleaning up, stocking shelves...doing whatever they do to prepare for opening the store the next morning.
I arrived a few minutes earlier than my daughter was scheduled to get off work. So, I just sat there waiting in my car listening to music. As I sat there, I kept noticing a man inside the store repeatedly looking out of the window at me and my car. I wondering why, but didn’t pay it too much mind.
The next thing I knew a sheriff’s deputy rolled up next to me with his lights flashing. I remember thinking, “Oh sh!t, that dude called the law on me.”
The deputy got out and approached me and I could clearly see he had one hand on his gun as he walked toward my car. I rolled the window down pretty much at the same time he got to it and he said something like, “Hello sir, can you please tell me what you’re doing here?”
I told him my daughter worked at this store and I was there to pick her up. He seemed to relax a bit after that and still asked me for my driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. He took them and went back to his car to check whatever they check. While he was sitting in his car, my daughter walks up and asks what’s going on.
She was furious after I told her that I thought somebody in the store called the cops on me. The deputy returned, saw my daughter in her Winn-Dixie uniform and apologized for any misunderstanding. I told him I understand that he was just doing his job and he left.
My daughter asked me who I thought called the cops. “Was it a thin white guy, wearing glasses, about 30 with light brown hair?” she asked.
“Yeah, that’s him,” I answered.
“That’s the assistant manager!” she said excitedly.
She angrily insisted on going back into the store with me to tell him off. I was like, “No, no. He might get offended and try to fire you.” She said she didn’t care, he can’t just call the sheriff on somebody for sitting in a car like that.
So, we walked up to the store and before we even got to the door the assistant manager came outside. My daughter angrily said, “This is my dad. He was sitting in his car waiting to pick me up and you called the cops on him! Why? Would you have called them if that was a white man sitting in a car?”
Of course his answer to that last question was “yes,” but he didn’t believe that any more than we did. He then started repeating how sorry he was and that he didn’t know who I was and the store was closed and I was just sitting there and he was concerned about his employees. Yada. Yada. Yada. The guy was so nervous and apologetic I almost (ALMOST) felt sorry for him. I think he developed a stuttering problem right then and there. LOL. Needless to say, not only did he not fire my daughter, he was extremely nice to and supportive of my daughter from that point forward.
Fast forward to two weeks ago. I live in a predominantly white gated community. One morning I parked one of my cars in such a way that was blocking the sidewalk. At about 8 a.m. my doorbell rang. I’m wondering who in the world is at our door this early? When I opened the door there stood a sheriff’s deputy.
“Good morning sir. Sorry to bother you,” he said. “But somebody called to report that a car here was blocking the sidewalk...and that is a violation of county law. I just need to ask you to move your vehicle and also warn you to please not do so again in the future.”
I could tell by the look on his face and the tone of his voice that he himself thought it was ridiculous that somebody called the Sheriff’s Office to report this. What a waste of a deputy’s time. I was really angry, but I maintained my cool and told him, “No problem. I’ll move it. I didn’t even know it was against the law.”
I grabbed my keys and moved my car, but oh man was I pissed. Not at the deputy, but that one of my neighbors could be so petty and stupid.
Neither of these instances compare with getting arrested at Starbucks or having the cops called on you for barbecuing in the park or sleeping in a common room at Yale, and certainly not with getting physically roughed up or worse by the police, but these situations with white folks calling cops on us for stupid stuff have got to stop.
The cops who responded to both these “incidents” were very professional and respectful, but that’s not always the case—as we all can attest.
And I’m telling y’all: Black people are tired. Very tired.