Losing faith in the authority figures in my life.
Over the years, I have learned a lot from my experiences with others. Especially authority figures. These include interactions with police officers, deans, professors, bosses, parents, mentors and more. Unfortunately, as is the case in many of my recent interactions with some of these figures, I have realized the extent to which their empathy may stretch.
Let’s start with the easiest of targets: Louisiana police officers. I’m not talking about state troopers – my interactions with them have always been more or less pleasant; they were able to empathize and at least try to explain the law within the context of the issue I was facing (like the dangers of speeding or making sure I get my brake tag updated). I’m talking about Baton Rouge PD and Kenner PD. The first of these interactions occurred between my mother and an officer after a teen who had been texting while driving did not take the time to look in front of his car before accelerating from rest and colliding with my mom’s car (even moving the car forward until I got out of the car to grab the driver’s attention). The officer who came to take our statements, after having a private conversation with the father of the teen who hit my mom, passed judgment (before even taking down my mom’s statement), stating that the boy had the right of way and that they did not have to do anything about the accident. He also laughed at my mother while she explained what happened and condescendingly replied back with snide remarks.
When I heard the officer’s tone, I immediately spoke up – no one talks rudely to my mom and gets away with it. Of course the officer laughed me off when I asked him why he was okay with the teen not exchanging information with us and why he was passing judgment on a traffic violation when the teen was OBVIOUSLY breaking the law (it is illegal for 16 year olds to be on the phone while driving). I was riled up and wanted answers. Instead, the officer just kept laughing at me and telling me to just sit in the car so he could handle business with the adults. The funny part was that the officer never issued any warnings or tickets to either party involved in the crash – one would expect the person who had been in “the wrong” according the the officer to at least receive a written warning. That was not the case.
Being the person I am, I called the police department to report the officer’s misconduct. And when on the phone with the captain, I was treated as if I had no idea what I was talking about. Again, people were talking down to me. And if you know me, I LOATHE being spoken to in that manner. So, my mother and I drove to the police station to speak with the captain in person. While speaking with him, my own suspicions regarding misconduct on the officer’s part were confirmed (regarding passing judgment and the officer using a condescending and rude tone). The funny part about all of this was that the 16 year old and his father were able to laugh with the officer and walk away without a ticket, whereas my mother and I received horrible treatment. Oh, and the captain was not any better than his detective.
Onto the next example: waiting at the airport to pick up a bunch of relatives who had just arrived from Malaysia. One relative had already made her way outside carrying a couple of bags that I had placed in my car, then she turned around and went back inside to retrieve the rest of her luggage. I mean, between the eight relatives, there were approximately 18 bags. So there were going to be a lot of trips back and forth. Well, my aunt goes back inside and five seconds later an officer knocks on my window and demands that I move my car immediately. I told the officer I have family members that arrived and are bringing out luggage as we speak. He replied, “Don’t make me repeat myself. Circle around now!” I explained again, “Sir, my aunt literally just came and dropped a bag off and went back in. She will be back any minute.” While I explain this, the officer begins to narrow his eyes and glare at me intensely for about seven seconds. He then said, “I told you already, move your car now.”
At this point, I felt like two things could happen: if I kept resisting or insisting that there were other loiterers (like the stupid Buick in front of me who had been parked there for about 5 minutes and who had not had any deplaners approach the car with baggage), this guy would try to arrest me or become violent for no reason, OR I could just comply and move my car, inconveniencing my relatives who were to get to the car waiting area in literally one minute – I can confirm this because I received phone calls from them asking why I drove off. I chose to de-escalate the situation and begin moving my car. I asked the ever-so-helpful officer to at least help guide me forward so that I don’t hit the car in front of me. He then said, “Oh you mean the car with the nice lady who’s following the rules? Yea you better not hit her.” I wanted to retort scathingly, “Are you kidding me right now? This bitch has been sitting there the whole time!” But I said nothing. I could see that this officer was just looking to transfer his frustration to someone else and I was unfortunately helping him do that. After moving my car, I saw him deliberately skip over the Buick in front of me and instead approach my uncle who happened to be the next car in front of the Buick, telling him to move his car. Thank god for my uncle, our relatives were within sight from the car, so the officer himself had to move on.
This was another instance in which I felt singled out by an authority figure who wanted to abuse his power because he had the ability to do so.
I feel like I have to at least state this given my recent terrible run-ins: I have had exemplary reviews from professors, bosses, mentors and deans all stating that I deal with authority well, making sure to never overstep my boundaries in a rude or disorderly manner. I have always respected authority figures in the past, but these recent issues, along with the Ferguson and Long Island issues, have made me realize the abuse of power and the lack of training prevalent within these populations. This begs the question: at what point are we able to trust that the people who have power over us have the ability to reason and protect all of its people, regardless of his or her own prejudices? When can the American public expect that the people who are supposed to serve the public’s best interest will serve ALL of the publics, and not just a majority stakeholder?
Of course, as I have seen countless times in PR and communication, campaigns that focus on reaching the most people tend to be the most successful. This includes tailoring campaigns and products to fit the needs of the majority of its target audience. Hell, even business and economics tell people to always expand one’s target audience to increase one’s profit margin. In this case, that means government and society should focus on the majority’s needs and demands before fulfilling the minority’s requirements. But that is not the democratic way. It never has been. So why should that change now?
Sorry – this is obviously a very negative post. I’m just riled up from the mistreatment I recently received by a couple of terrible cops. Remember, I’m not making a blanket statement that all cops are bad – that’s not my intent. Instead, it’s to call attention to the ones who are indeed terrible. My trust and respect for officers has been shaken due to their recent behavior nationally and because of my own interactions with them. Here’s hoping that cops everywhere will take a page out of PR 101 and learn how to communicate effectively with people. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s their job to protect and SERVE. And in order to SERVE, they should familiarize themselves with ways to de-escalate situations and treat all of their publics the same.
Lastly, I have never lowered my standards when it comes to others in a relationship, so I’m definitely not going to do so with authority figures. Just because you have the power over a group of people does not mean it can be misused and abused. That is something I will not stand for. I’ll leave you with “Rude” by MAGIC!, a song I wanted to sing to the officer’s throughout my altercations.