Spring is in the air in many places and in one of those places a man decided to invest some time and energy into washing the winter salts off his car and polishing the exterior bright. He even added a few shiny details so that the vehicle sparkled like brand new. That night, he and his teenage step-daughter made a late night food run for the family. As they walked toward the car, the man looked closely at the vehicle. Once they were safely buckled inside, he made a choice. He decided that here was a teachable moment.
He said, “You know that area where we go to get fast food, right? Well, at night and especially on the weekends, there is a police car in one of the parking lots. Their goal is to reduce crime. One way they think they are doing that is by profiling people. Look at me and look at what we’re driving. Okay, let’s see what happens.” They pulled into the restaurant drive-thru, placed their order and then pulled over to wait. The man chatted with the girl about school and what music she was listening to these days. When they received their food, he started to drive home.
After a while he told the girl, “Okay, take a look in the mirror. Can you see him? He’ll probably stay about 4-5 seconds behind to see if we do anything out of the ordinary like suddenly speeding up or weaving across the yellow line … anything that will give him cause to pull me over. But we haven’t done anything wrong and so we just stay calm even if he were to pull us over.” They made it home and as they pulled into the driveway the man told the skeptical girl, “I know, I know. I could be wrong. People call me a worrier and even paranoid. But, let’s see. If I’m even half-way right, he’ll shortly drive down this street, pass our house, do a scan and then at the bottom of the street do a u-turn and drive back up the street. And then since we are clearly just fine, he’ll drive away into the night.” They waited. The car drove past, did a u-turn at the bottom of the street and then drove away into the night. The man and girl went into the house with their fries and other food items to share.
When my brother began relating this recent experience with me, I thought he was just going to share the continuing adventures of teaching a teenage girl to drive. When the story concluded, I could not help but ask, “Of all the things you thought you’d be teaching the children in your life, did you ever think you’d be teaching them about profiling?” All he could say was, “Nope.”