I was waiting for my wife to get off work like I do almost every day. She works at a bank. I was sitting in the car for awhile, but after 15 minutes of waiting I decided to relax a little bit. I put the seat into a reclined position and laid back, still waiting. I kept looking up every minute or so to see if she had come out yet. After about 10 more minutes of laying down I looked up and saw a police car facing the drivers side of the car. I thought to myself, “Oh great. They’re here because I look suspicious.” This was the latest my wife had been getting off work for a long long time. I usually only wait 10-15 minutes at the most. The other thing I noticed, which was strange, was that he had a passenger with him in the front seat that looked like an LDS missionary. He was wearing a white shirt and looked to be about 19 years old. He also wore glasses and had a passively curious and non-judgmental expression.
Sure enough, the officer started walking toward the car. I rolled down the window and looked out trying not to look as annoyed as I was. “What are you doing sleeping in a car outside of a bank?” the officer asked smugly.
“I’m just waiting for my wife to get off work,” I said. I thought right after, “…like I do every day.”
I think he kind of answered his question next saying something like, “It sure is suspicious to be sleeping in a car right outside of a bank.” But by this time my adrenaline had started pumping. Not like when you’re being chased by an angry lion, but more like just before you have to deliver a speech in front of a large audience. This made my hands a little bit shaky when he asked, “Can I see your driver license?”
“Sure!” I said in as confident a voice as I could muster. I pulled out my wallet and flipped up the pocket enveloping my license.
“Can you take it out for me?”
“No, probably not,” I thought to myself. “All right,” I politely replied and began to wrestle the plastic card from its plastic sleeve. Just as I had known, the plastic in the sleeve had adhered itself to the plastic license card. I jiggled and tugged at the card attempting not to look like a dufus. I handed him the card and he stepped behind my car.
I don’t know why he decided that behind the car is a good place to stand. I was parked backwards in a parking space, and was facing the bank. I could see silhouettes through the tinted windows. It was getting darker outside and the lights were still on inside. I could hear the officer talking into his radio, “Sierra, Hotel, Alpha…” It was at about this time that I started hoping that my wife would come out and confirm my story. I don’t know if her word would have actually been worth enough in the suspicious officer’s mind to let me go, but I thought it would be pretty good anyway to have someone inside the bank vouch for me. That didn’t happen, though.
The officer handed me back my card after a minute or so. As he handed it to me he wished me a good weekend, walked back to his squad car, and drove away. It was about this time that I started running through my rights in my head. Did I have to give the officer my license? Did he have the right to approach me because he thought what I was doing was suspicious even though I do the same thing nearly every day? When Krissy first got this job I came to pick her up after work on the first day. I thought to myself that it seemed a little suspicious that I was sitting out in my car waiting for her to come out the employee entrance. I guess I started to feel like it was less suspicious looking the longer I had been doing it and the more people I saw that did the same thing. For the record, there were at least two other people that had been waiting to pick people up when I first arrived, but none by the time the officer arrived.
After another five-minute wait Krissy emerged with her manager. They both looked a little surprised, and they both started to walk toward the car. I did not want to talk to anyone besides my wife and was a little bit upset that they had both come over. The manager asked something about what had happened, and I said, “He said it was suspicious to be waiting in a car outside the bank.” I then made some snide remark that was supposed to sound like a joke, but came out with all of the frustration in my voice that I was truly feeling, “I was waiting for my wife who is 30 minutes late getting off work.” It was obviously awkward for both my wife and her manager. I ended up shaking her hand as she introduced herself, and then we came home.
The more I thought about what had happened, the more angry I got. I don’t know what really made me angry about the whole thing, though. Part of it was that my frustrated snide remark had made my wife a little bit upset and now I was mad that I felt like I was being blamed for the whole incident. It may not have been the managers fault that the police came to visit me, but I still kind of felt like it was. What good are schedules, anyway, if they aren’t going to be followed. After all, it wouldn’t have been suspicious to arrive, wait for five minutes, and then leave.
All I wanted to do was to be alone and to vent my frustrations. I came into the bedroom and started writing. Now that I’ve had a chance to cool-down thanks to the twin heat sinks of time and writing down my thoughts, I am much more calm, though I am still unsettled about the whole incident. What is going to happen in the future when I have to wait for thirty minutes? Can I get an indemnity card that says the bank has authorized me to hang out in my car for a half an hour? Was it the laying down that made the officer suspicious? Was there some other suspicious activity in the area that I don’t know about? So many unanswered questions. The officer probably wouldn’t even remember the incident a week from now, but I can guarantee you that my first time being questioned by the police will not be an experience that I will soon forget.