I'm discovering two things about Delroy. For one, he has a problem with reading signs. I'm not sure if it's an inability to process a sign quickly enough as it floats by outside the window or if it's uncorrected unwillingness. This became glaringly apparent yesterday when, on the Garden State Parkway, Delroy slowed down a bit. I looked up from some reading I was doing in the passenger seat to see a state trooper entering the highway from a ramp on my right.
The officer proceeded to file in behind us and put on his lights. It took a moment to realize it was for us that the lights were on, then it took us several more seconds to get safely over two lanes and onto the shoulder. The trooper was becoming impatient with the time it was taking for us to get over and pulled along side us. Great, a ticked-off cop. At this moment, we had no idea why we were being pulled-over.
The cop came to the driver's side window and immediately flew-off the handle about having to "chase us down" and asking why we had no entered the truck inspection station. Of course, as I was not watching the road at that particular moment, this was news to me. Delroy tried to explain that he didn't realize he was supposed to go into the inspection area and the cop shot back "What are you driving?". The cop's smart-ass attitude about the entire situation is when I began to fully realize the depth to which Delroy does not like, nor appreciate confrontation. The officer continued to fire questions, demanding our licenses, medical cards, registration, proof of insurance, and log books. Delroy wears gloves on his hands while driving and began to take them off so that he could dig into this pocket for his license, I pulled my wallet of the dash immediately. The officer felt Delroy was taking too long and Delroy explained he had to take his gloves off to reach into his pocket, but somewhat curtly which the cop immediately recognized. I picked up the Qualcomm and informed the officer that our logs were electronic. The cop cut me off and said he knew our company used electronic logs, just get them, then he returned his attention to Delroy. Delroy handed him his license and medical card. The officer asked Delroy for the license and registration.
I still needed another response from the officer before I could get the logs but couldn't get a word in edge-wise. Delroy responded to the officer that he didn't know where the truck's paperwork was; it's something we haven't covered in any detail yet. Since I couldn't get the logs without more information from officer, I began to explain how Delroy had only been driving for three weeks, that the truck's paperwork was in my briefcase in the bunk and began to get it. The cop asked, "He was driving, right?" The officer was clearly trying to be as difficult as possible but I remained calm, however Delroy was becoming visibly agitated. "I don't know where they are!" The cop asked, "I haven't heard you ask where they were? This can go one of two ways, fellas, whichever way you want to play it." He was referring specifically to Delroy at this point. "Are you going to get those logs?" he said to me. "Yes officer, I just need to know how many days you need so I can send the message." Delroy looked at me and I gave him this look that was the silent equivalent of "Shut the hell up and ask me where it is!" Delroy caught the second part of my glare and asked me and I told him where they were and pointed to my briefcase in the back.
Delroy reached back and handed it to me. The officer seemed to calm just a bit and said, "Now we're getting somewhere." I was being as comlpiant, calm, and respectful as I could, even though the officer's actions hardly warranted it. But one thing you don't do is further agitate a highway patrol officer who already has an atittude. Delroy seemed to be coming around. The officer came around to my side of the truck to wait on the logs to be returned from the satellite and I handed him my information as well as the truck's registration and insurance. Then Delroy did the dumbest thing. He lit a cigarette and tossed the match out the window. "Don't throw that out the window, that an automatic $500 fine for littering!" the officer shouted over the idling engine. "The way things are going, you can almost count on it!" Delroy then began to question whether or not this was littering, in essence, arguing with the officer. The officer's belligerence increased once more and finally I guess they both reached their breaking points simultaneously. It began with Delroy interrupting the officer's rant by saying "Why do you have to be so mean?" and the officer looking dumbfounded at this level of insolence and said, "That's it, I'm done!" and stormed off for his cruiser.
All I could do was shake my head. I too was as equally dumbfounded. I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed, both the behavior of the officer bnut more importantly the behavior of my acolyte.
"You just insured yourself a ticket, you know that?" I said, lighting a cigarette. "And I can't believe you threw a match stick out the window in the presence of an officer!?!?</i>
We talked back and forth a bit about what had just transpired. I began to get the impression really quick that he felt I was somehow to blame for not having been watching the road at that moment. I nipped that in the bud really quick. I first asked him what the sign had said, to which he replied "Something about an inspection station." Well, I happen to know that New Jersey, as confusing as it can be sometimes at least has decent signage for their inspection stations. They have a big sign on the highway alerting commercial vehicles that it it is a "Truck Inspection Station" with a big electronic sign beneath relaying whether they are "OPEN" or "CLOSED". This I explained to him and added that if he had been confused, why did he not ask me? They place the signs at least one mile before the entrance to the inspection station and it's not like I was alseep in the bunk. I was sitting right beside him, just not looking at the road at that moment. The fact of the matter was he probably missed the earlier signs and saw the final sign after it was too late, as he was one lane removed from the exit ramp. This was confirmed today while approaching a two-lane weigh station in south-eastern Pennsylvania this afternoon. I watched him drive past the "Weight Station 1 Mile" sign, then another sign which said "All Enter Weight Station When Flashing" with two, non-flashing yellow light atop it. Then, just as approached the entrance to the weight station he hit the brake, looked at me and asked if he had to go in there. I asked him if he had seen the other TWO signs and he replied no. I'm guessing this is what happened yesterday as well, he just didn't ask me when he realized he was passing an inspection station.
I then proceeded to question his behavior with the officer. I told him that likely he would have only received a Vehicle Inspection, which is standard opearting procedure anytime a truck is pulled-over, whether a ticket is given or not. It's kind of like a "Warning". The report has to be mailed to the trucking company, on which the officer will list the offense for which the truck was pulled-over. This is used a lot for small infractions so that the employer is made aware of their driver's errant activity, it goes "on record", but without going as far as to write an actual ticket involving fines and misdemeanors. In all likliehood, had Delroy just been co-operative this is what would have happened. Yes the cop was being an Grade-A asshole, but I got the impression that for that moment that Delroy began co-operating, and after having stated things could go "one of two ways" that he was willing to be fair about that situation as it had been an honest mistake, until Delroy got lippy with him.
So this is when I discovered the second thing about Delroy this week. He. HATES. cops. I mean really hates cops. In the time that has transpired since his ticket I have heard him say things like "The only good cop is in the cemetary." And I can't blame him; being a black, dread-locked Rastafarian in this country, I'm sure he's suffered his fair share of racial profiling, stops for "suspicion", and hassling from our law enforcement officers. So I can't really begrudge where his motivation comes from, but at the same time, he's going to be dealing with law enforcement officials from troopers to D.O.T officers on a regular basis in the business. If he is incapable of quelling his emotions and behaving in an appropriate manner though a routine traffic stop where he was clearly in the wrong, just because some redneck cop has a bad attitude on that particular day, he's in for a world of hurt.
So on the one hand, I feel bad for Delroy that he got a ticket - that he made a mistake as bad as he did that warranted one. I feel bad that I wasn't more attentive at the time, however, as I've said, all he had to do was ask. Ultimately though, I don't have much sympathy for what happened because of the way it played out. Delroy's behavior was inexecusable and had he exercised better judgement and self-control he wouldn't have gotten a ticket at all.