Experience of a Policeman
afternoon Mrs. Hibbert left for the health food store feeling
proud and with great flutterings in her stomach. The last
time shed been
employed had been as a nanny many years before. She was quite
being an undocumented underage live-in babysitter for a doctor
was quite a
bit different from working in a health food store.
it was the pride or the flutterings, one or the other of them
her to do something that made a police car float up behind
her and pull her
dear, she said to herself. Now what?
and registration please, the officer said.
a minute, she replied, opening her purse and delving.
found her wallet, which was shreds of tapestry fabric wrapped
pound of paper as dense as a brick. Once in the wallet, the
turned out to be sandwiched into the carbons of her checks
from the last
time shed used it. She handed it over to the impatient
Oh dear, Im sure I have no idea. My husband takes care
you know. What does it look like?
she opened the glove box. A cascade of small objects flew
her, including (but not limited to) a 100-watt light bulb,
tampon (sans applicator), a half-used road flare, paperclips,
that pen shed
been looking for, nail clippers, and a loose deck of cards.
that pen! she cried. I wonder what it was doing
in there? She
rooted deeper in the glove box, coming up with a handful of
she obligingly gave to the policeman with an air of triumph.
by receiving a warranty card for a television set (stamped
never mailed, the postage was no longer adequate), a grocery
Kleenex, and a letter from David, the cop gave up. Life, he
okay maam. Have a nice day, he said, handing everything
her. She was vainly trying to wedge the light bulb back into
compartment without breaking it, and received the assortment
of paper with a
you very much, she said. Oh! Heres the insurance
card. Do you want
thank you maam, he replied, edging carefully away
from the car.
holding up a crochet hook with a baffled look as he got out
earshot. Then she leaned out of view again, apparently trying
order in the glove box, or at least retrieve most of the 52
jokers in the footwell.
was certain she was going to be late. Whatever that nice policeman
had wanted hadnt seemed to be very important to him,
and she wondered why
he had thought it important enough to pull her over if he
in the rearview mirror. He was still sitting there, it looked
like he was on the phone. On an impulse, she decided to go
and ask him what
he had wanted. She went back and knocked on his window.
maam? he asked after rolling the window down.
They were power
windows, and he had to start the car to do so.
I was just wondering, you know, why you pulled me over, because
ve made me late to work and why would you pull me over and
make me late and
then just not even ask me anything. If it was important enough,
I mean, to
pull me over why wasnt it important enough for you to
do anything about it?
I mean, I know I shouldnt be telling you your business,
but really it just
seems disrespectful of a persons time.
up at her. His mouth hung open as his face slowly turned red.
he decided to get out of the car, which he made a great show
rolling the window back up, turning off the engine, climbing
reference to her, retrieving his nightstick and fastening
it in his belt.
Then he turned to face her.
he barely met the height requirement for an officer of the
law, and Mrs. Hibbert was a tall woman. Rather than towering
over her in an
intimidating way, he found himself merely at eye level.
me get this straight, he began.
upset because I pulled you over and then let you go? You dont
this is your lucky day?
not. Its my first day on a new job and youve made
you ever find the registration? he asked.
still dont know what it is or why you want it.
the cars license, maam. Lets go back to
your car and find it, shall
just because I asked why, now youre going to give me
what do you want the registration for?
give you a ticket.
you were driving in two lanes and going 15 miles an hour.
have you been drinking?
should hope so! Its hot today.
my hormones. What does it matter to you?
it takes a powerful lot of alcohol to make someone drive 15
hour in two lanes in the middle of a busy street. You dont
seem that drunk,
so I thought perhaps some medication was involved.
How could I be drunk? All Ive had to drink was water!
you said youd been drinking all day!
I dont want to get dehydrated. Officer, are you sure
dehydrated? Youre so red in the face. Are you sure youre
alright? Besides, I was only looking in my purse for the vitamin
C while I
was changing lanes. You wouldnt want me to be speeding
up while I was
digging around in my purse would you? Oh, and your skin looks
like you could
use a little more vitamin A and D in your diet. You probably
milk, do you?
he asked, unsure what to respond to.
you or do you not drink milk?
you should absolutely be taking vitamins A and D. Your eyes
better at night and your skin will lose that funny baked ham
WHAT? he gaped, sure hed just been called a pig.
dear, youre getting even redder. Do you want some water?
gaped at her, wordless. She bustled to her car and came back
with a bottle of spring water.
drink this, she said kindly. Youll feel
better right away.
you? He broke the seal on the bottle and drank.
welcome. Now, when youre feeling better, you come right
store and you can buy the vitamins you need. Just follow me.
Its only in
the mini-mall in the next block. Natures Way. You cant
miss it. But as I
said before, youve already made me late, so I really
must go. If you still
want to give me that ticket you can do it at the store, cant
a little irregular
he began, trailing off. He
was a beaten man and
he knew it. Besides the water really was making him feel better.
guess that would be alright.
I still dont know what youre talking about with
thing. I mean, the cars licenses are right on the car
goes with those, he explained patiently, walking her
back to her
vehicle. It has more detail on it.
she exclaimed. You must mean that silly thing that Carl
husband, Carl put on my sun visor. It was really unattractive,
besides, every time I went to flip the visor to cover the
instead of the front, I got my hand caught on it and once
my watch, which
was really annoying because I needed two hands to get it un-caught,
needed one for driving, so I was one hand short if you see
what I mean and I
had to stay that way with my arm up until I got caught by
a red light which
seemed like miles, although Im sure it wasnt.
But anyway, after that I
took it off the visor. Now what did I do with it? She
paused, thinking, and
then sighed. I just dont remember. Middle age
is a terrible thing young
man. Im going to have to take more Chromium myself.
she supplied. Well, you can get those vitamins anyway.
probably need a good multi-vitamin too. I expect right now
youre taking one
of those drugstore concoctions like One-a-Day or something.
I dont take anything, he said, feeling his own
shortcomings. He was
filled with obscure creeping guilt.
And you a policeman, such a high-stress job. Good heavens,
your wife thinking?
not married, maam.
that explains it. Men are simply no good at taking care of
themselves. Take my Carl. When I met him he was eating bacon
and eggs every
morning and steak every night because that was all he knew
how to cook and
he couldnt afford to eat out every meal. It took me
years to get his
cholesterol levels down to normal. And Im fairly certain
that if I werent
around hed go right back to eating bacon and eggs and
steaks and hed drop
dead in six months. You take my advice, young man, find a
good girl who will
look after you and get married.
dont look after men anymore, maam.
what my son says, and I dont believe him either. The
with the girls. Most of them would be perfectly happy to make
work looking after a nice man. The trouble is with you boys.
You want the
girls to work full time and bring in an income just not quite
as good as
yours (and dont tell me that isnt true, because
I know how you boys get
when your wives make more than you half my sons
friends are divorced) and
then you want them to take care of you on top of it. Is it
any wonder that
they cant do it? Pish-tosh. Give a nice girl an opportunity
and be willing
for the two of you to live on your income, and shell
be perfectly happy to
keep you out of trouble and make sure your uniform keeps on
shot a gimlet glance at his waistline, which embarrassed him
it had recently expanded to hang over his belt and stretch
the buttons of
his shirts in an alarming fashion. Well, Im off!
She settled into the
drivers seat. Come on along after, and mind you
finish that water.
time he was done draining the bottle, she had taken off and
after her, willing himself not to do exactly as she had commanded.
After all, he was on duty! He couldnt be buying vitamins
while he was on
duty. No, hed go in after his shift was over, on his
own time. Maybe
Back in his car he looked anxiously at himself in the rearview
could pretty much see what she had meant about his skin. It
was very pink
and finely wrinkled, almost exactly like an over-baked ham.
He knew he was
fair-skinned, and that the sun was bad for him, but he really
about what driving around in a car all day was doing to him.
hed go and get the vitamins now after all.
stuff: Please do not print, copy or distribute this without
permission from the author. All rights reserved. Copyright
© 2001 Alexandra R.
Nyfors. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly