Sure, there are plenty of jobs worse than being a traffic cop. It probably wouldn’t even make most people’s top 10 list of crappy occupations. Maybe not even their top 20. But there’s no job I hate more than that.
I guess I’m biased. Over the years, I’ve had plenty of run-ins with traffic cops. I’ve gotten my share of tickets, some deserved, some not. And most of the cops who’ve pulled me over, or who I’ve had to speak to in the course of my daily business, have been totally fine: calm, professional, polite.
The trouble is, I’ve met my share of a$$hats too. You know the kind: twitchy trigger finger, deliberately baiting you, just waiting for you to step an inch out of line. Luckily, I don’t have the kind of racial profile that means I’m going to end up getting shot, but even I feel nervous when I look in the door mirror and see a cop in shades sidling up to my window.
It’s an intimidating moment, and you’re never entirely sure how it’s going to play out. Most of the time, it’s just fine. You get your business done, whatever that is, and you both go your separate ways.
But then other times, you know from the start that it’s going to be trouble. Maybe Officer Dibble is pulling you over on some bullshit charge, or is way out of line in what he’s asking. And if you start to question what he’s about, that’s when the real trouble can begin.
If I’ve got a passenger in the back, there’s an added level of complication to the whole deal. I don’t want to delay my customer. My job’s to get them to where they want to go quickly, safely, efficiently, comfortably. They sure as hell don’t need to watch me getting into a row with the police. Or worse, have me hauled off to the station while they’re stuck in the back of my car.
So sometimes your hands are tied. You’ve no option but to suck it up and take whatever crap is being thrown your way. And the cops know it. Some of them delight in it. They take pleasure in causing you as much hassle as possible, whether it’s deserved or not.
Like I said, it’s very few of them that do this, but they spoil the job for everyone else. Because of these few rogue officers, we have to fear EVERY traffic cop. We’ve never fully confident that today isn’t going to be the day when something goes south real quick.
Which is why it makes a refreshing change to read about a traffic cop who knows what his priorities really are.
Sub-inspector ML Nijalingappa, from Bangalore in India, was on duty directing traffic when the Indian President’s convoy approached the circle he was at. At the same time, an ambulance with its blues flashing came up. What did the Sub-inspector do? He stuck out his arm and blocked the President’s convoy and allowed the ambulance to pass first.
You can read the full story on India’s StoryPick site. It’s actually kinda heart-warming. If more traffic cops here were like ML Nijalingappa, well, maybe the profession wouldn’t be so high on my shit-list.