Practice

Jul. 19th, 2017 09:36 pm
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[personal profile] catsittingstill
So this is a thing I did a couple of nights ago. Call it practice. Practice just being there. Practice being the Middle Aged White Woman policemen want to look reasonable in front of. It was surprisingly difficult for something that isn't difficult at all.

Here's how it happened; I went out for a walk around dusk, because I hadn't gotten any exercise that day, and I tromped around campus for a while playing Pokémon Go and about the fourth time the app crashed on me I decided I'd had enough exercise and started walking home. By now it was full dark, maybe 10 pm or 10:15.

I was tromping down the street full tilt in my usual "take no prisoners" pace, when I noticed a couple of police cars by the back dock of the Post Office, with their flashing blue lights on. As I came by I saw a white car pulled over in the glare of their headlights being searched by a policeman while a pair of young people sat stiffly on the nose of the police car with another policeman talking to them.

I would ordinarily have passed by, politely pretending not to notice these stressed people. But these are not ordinary times and I've been hearing things, and I started weighing things over in my head. The girl was white, very blond--the boy was wearing a red watch cap and I couldn't see enough of him to be sure of his color. A couple of my friends had mentioned the Power Of The Middle-Aged White Woman to keep cops from getting violent. Should I stay?

Could the police men even see me in the dark? I was wearing a white shirt; surely they could. Wait, now the boy turned his head and I could see he was white too. Maybe they didn't need me. Probably they didn't. I should go.

But I could feel the urge to turn around and leave, especially when the policemen kept glancing my way. Like a social repulsor field. And I thought: maybe I should stay just for the practice. Practice Being There. So I stayed.

The policemen glanced at me again. I reminded myself I had every right to be there, and to watch policemen doing interesting things on public property. I stayed. One of the policemen drove away. Mosquitoes came and expressed their pleasure that I had been so accommodating as to wear shorts. I asked myself what Judi would do. I stayed. A new policeman drove up and talked to the kids a while.

Then he walked over to me saying "May I help you?" Jimminy Christmas he was actually taller than me which doesn't happen very often.

I smiled and said "No thanks, I'm just watching."

He said "that's fine, you have every right to watch." (Ha. White Woman Privilege at work.) "I just wondered if you knew these juveniles."

I smiled and shook my head and said "Sorry, no."

He walked back over to the kids. My feet got tired and I leaned against a nearby stone wall. More talking. I wondered if there might be ticks in the lawn the stone wall was retaining. I hoped not. Presently he led the girl over to his police car. I moved a bit so I could see that he wasn't hurting her. She got in the back of his car. He drove her away. I sat back down on the stone wall.

After a while the boy was allowed to go sit in the driver's seat of his car. He smoked a cigarette. I stayed. And a while after that the remaining policeman got in his car, pulled out and drove away, and the boy did likewise and I went home.

I stayed for roughly an hour and came home with tired feet and new mosquito bites, and had Kip check me for ticks before I went to bed. (No ticks, whew; ticks really give me the creeps.) It was not an easy thing to resist the social repulsion field and all the voices in my own head telling me everything was fine and I didn't have to be there and I was probably embarrassing those kids or the policemen or both, and for nothing. But it was a lot easier for me than it would have been for someone who didn't have my advantages. And hopefully next time it will be easier still.

Because there will be a next time. I'm practicing.
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