Tuesday, December 9, 2008

DWI-Driving While IVAW.

There is something about being an IVAW member, I will say, that gives you a healthy respect for the amount of bullshit that police officers can pull on you if they want to. I've seen "the rules" ignored so many times that I no longer believe in the inherent righteousness of every cop and MP. Instead, I believe cops very well will pull you over if they don't like your bumper sticker, or the way you look through a window. Whether this is good or bad, I don't know.

I got to experience this fresh fear today. While driving off post after my Krav Maga class, I suddenly noticed flashing lights behind me. Please don't let them be for me, please let them be for the guy in front of me. It was nonsensical, but I hadn't thought I'd done anything wrong. I was too exhausted to have done anything wrong, having just spent the last hour and a half beating and being beaten on. Of course, they were for me. This kind of thinking is nonsensical. It's like that scene in Kent State when the black kid turns to the white one and says, "The guns are always loaded." The guns are always loaded, and they are always coming for you. And they may just smash a friend's face while they're at it. I have no inherent faith anymore.

A thousand things flashed through my mind. Was I going too slow? MPs love to look for people going too slow. They assume they're drunk, and we had another DUI just last night. Yes, a Monday night. Yes, there was one the Sunday the day before that. That's just how this post rolls, especially with the 1AD back. I wondered what kind of sobriety test they would have. Would I be able to pass it in my exhausted state? I could barely lift my hand above my head, and my walk had been kind of a slow stumble to my car. Would they ask me to get out of the car? I was in gym clothes, so I breathed a sigh of relief, that I might be safe. Then I remembered what gym clothes-black Army PT bottoms and my IVAW tank top. Would he recognize the logo? How much trouble might I be in?

The MP strode up to my window and asked for my license. My hands were clumsy as they reached for it, but it was not with fear. He assumed it was, of course, as he told me "not to be nervous". I wondered what mysterious sin I was going to be down for. What my nervousness translated to in his head. If he would spy the pack of SITREPs on the seat next to me. Instead, he just leaned in my front window, and said, "You know your headlights are out?" I felt like the biggest idiot in the world. In my hurry to get home and to my hot shower, I had turned lights on, but the ones that only provided a little light. I immediately flipped to that and the MP thanked me and let me go. It wasn't about me. It wasn't about my politics. It was about headlights. This time. And I wish I could say that this incident let me relax, let me think that there's never going to be a jerk MP who's going to ask "What the hell is this Iraq Veterans Against the War shit you have on your bumper?" But it didn't. It was a reprieve, but not a permanent one.

I got home, and enjoyed the hottest shower I could possibly stand. One thing I will say for the Army is that they really make you appreciate a few of the simple things in life. Like hot water. Until the end of my life, I will cherish a truly hot shower with good water pressure. I've had many a time without it. I've lived, but I've hated it. A truly hot, good shower, especially after an awesome workout, is almost as good as sex, just for the initial minute.

On a random sidenote, WWII combat vets are awesome yet very strange. I ran into a retired one who I suppose still lives in the area of post (didn't ask him why) Old as the hills, but still looked wiry and alert. I was making conversation, just to pass the time, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he popped out with something about us surviving Bush, and something about how people who hid in the Air National Guard at home while everyone else went to war shouldn't get to send other people into combat. Of course I shook his hand and continued the conversation, but (and I know you'll be surprised) it got too much even or me. He continued on. "And it was one of the assassination cycles, too. I was so disappointed. You know, the twenty year assassination cycles..." And on that point, my dear readers, I was off. That was definitely not the conversation I needed to be in, so I smiled, said goodbye, and headed for the door. I have apparently found the point beyond which I won't go in my dislike for our current president. It's small, but it's there.


Mud Puppy said...

Brother, I am an MP and I will tell you that there are more Robocops than I care to admit. If they ever pop you for DUI, when you are exhausted or sick, tell them to take you to the TMC for a blood draw. (So long as you don't have any booze in you). Anyways, keep your head up. Garrison MP's are mostly pricks anyhow.

Army Sergeant said...

Thanks. Yeah, I'm always really scrupulous about not driving when I've had anything to drink. Something about having a first sergeant with a plate in him from a drunk driving accident tends to make it really serious.

Eddie Willers said...

Military installations always have too many police on them. Naturally, these police become bored...and an idle cop is a ticketing (or at least intrusive) cop.

I think police are among the most paranoid people on earth, although I'm not entirely convinced their paranoia is of their own choosing. The cop that pulled you over was looking for something - anything - to tip him off that you were up to something considered to be a crime these days. As government revenue engines, police will always seek to intervene in activities deemed "illicit" so as to generate more money for the state.

Your worry about being pulled over for merely displaying a bumper sticker should serve as a bellwether for the depths to which acceptable police conduct have sunk. Sure, not all cops are bad, but there's always a few who spoil the image for all.

I'm glad you didn't get a ticket, but you shouldn't have been pulled over, either.

Anonymous said...

When WW2 Vets get that cynical, something is VERY WRONG WITH THE WHOLE AMERICAN PICTURE!

tankerbabe said...

Remind me why you don't get out of the Army and stop your whining? Good grief!

Jack said...

Some people look for drama. They can turn a simple courtesy in the interest of public safety from a cop into harrassment for their political views.

I lost count of the times I've seen people play the race card, the sexual harrassment card, the whatever card...looks like you're gonna start playing the IVAW card whenever you don't get your way or get in trouble. Nice.

Eddie Willers, she got stopped because she didn't turn her headlights on. I don't know where you're from, but that's a legit reason to stop anywhere I've ever heard of.

Girl in the Middle said...

Eddie Willers, you might be right about police being among the most paranoid people on earth, but I think not.

But isn't this story really an example of how paranoid the author is? Thank goodness she was stopped and told to turn her headlights on, so she didn't cause an accident and hurt herself or someone else.

It's way too easy to point to the cops and MPs as the bad guys. But didn't I just read a new post by Army Sgt. about how things aren't so black and white???

Army Sgt, I was sorry to read about your accident. It sounds like you had another "good" MP in that situation.

Army Sergeant said...

Jack and Girl In the Middle,

I apologize if I wasn't clear enough. A lot of this post was about my own paranoia-sometimes justified, but often not. Some of it's probably the PTSD-I'm always on edge, and it's difficult for me to trust. Some of it is the real experience of having been hassled.

I don't claim there are no good MPs out there-what I claim is that despite knowing that there are good MPs out there, I still have a visceral response to police now which is different than the one I grew up with, and I honestly regret it.

I'm trying to be honest in this blog-to show the good and the bad. I don't always appear in a good light, but I assure you, I'm fully aware of it.

Girl in the Middle said...

ArmySgt, I went back and read it again, and this is what I gleaned from your story: this time the stop was legit, but it's only a matter of time until they mess with me because of my politics.

I personally believe this kind of thinking can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. But this is your blog, and I'm not here to argue. I *do* appreciate you sharing your experiences, whether they are good, bad, or somewhere in between.

Happy 2009, and enjoy those hot showers.

Sapper1 said...

Ms Coppa,
Typical boo hoo, the whole world is out to get me that is of course expected from some one like you.