I'm afraid of cops. There, I said it.
Also, I never call a cop a "cop" to his face. I don't think it's derogatory or anything, but it seems a little too friendly and familiar. It's always, "Yes, Mr. Law Enforcement Official, I agree it IS a bad idea to use my hands to act out a rap song rather than keeping them on the steering wheel," or "No, Officer, I most certainly did NOT steal this Dora the Explorer doll from the little kid crying like a wimp in the corner."
The few times I've been pulled over, I've never tried to finagle my way out of a ticket. I have my driver's license, insurance, and registration in hand by the time the cop knocks on my window. Do I behave this way because I'm a good citizen? No, ma'am. It's the fear all up in this weenie heart of mine. It has kept me on the straight and narrow, though. I always come to a complete stop at stop signs. I've never murdered anyone. And even if I've been really hungry, I've never robbed a pedestrian for their sack lunch.
So where does this unnatural fear come from? Perhaps it's the fact that I've never been to jail. You know how you inexplicably feel in your gut that you'd be good at something even though you've never tried it before? Maybe you've never been to a casino, but you know that you'd be an excellent poker player because the burned area on your toast looked like an ace of spades last Tuesday. "That's the universe talking," you say.
In that same way, I just know that I would NOT make a good prisoner. Sure, I would buddy around with a guard here and there to ensure decent treatment, but what about the inmates? I would have to learn French braiding or shiatsu massage really damn fast because I suspect that unless I had a special skill, those crazy inmates would gang up and steal my slippers. Then I would have to walk around prison barefoot. I shudder to think how long it's been since those cement floors have been Swiffered.
I equate cops with jail. If I were smarter, I would know that cops don't necessarily lead to jail, it's getting into trouble that does. But that's not how my mind works.
Unfortunately, I've passed my fear down to my daughter, Cal. Years ago, when I rolled down my window at a checkpoint one night, she shouted loudly enough for the officer to hear, "PO PO NO!" Ever seen a 5-year-old duck down in her Graco booster seat trying to evade the law? Well, someone in the Los Angeles Police Department has now witnessed it. Now, I make positive statements like, "Oh, look at that NICE policeman," when she's in the car. I assume that's what Good Parents do.
I don't know how I'm working through this fear. There's a precinct not far from my house. I suppose I'll just bring some Rice Krispies Treats by and hang out and shoot the breeze. And I assure you, that's all I'll be shooting.
Any irrational/unnatural/unexplained fears? Share them in the comments below.
For more by Elizabeth Jayne Liu, click here.
For more on becoming fearless, click here.