Updated: Apr 15, 2020
I drove from Southern California to move back to Austin, Texas. It was a 23 hour trip. I traveled mainly across I-10 East. I left early and got off to a great start. After two afternoon Grandes from Starbucks, I was pinned. I was well ahead of schedule and was making such good time. I thought I'd be there in time for dinner. Then, I remembered the state of New Mexico. Yeah, I had to drive through this one as well…
It was late, it was dark and I was still pinned. There was nothing in sight and I felt the need to be strategic on gas stops. The stations were few and far between. If one looked suspect, I would drive around it first before shutting down my truck. I packed a jump rope (the germaphobe in me would not allow me to do push-ups). I'd do 1 - 7 minute set while the gas was pumping. Yes, I did this in the daytime as well. It was worth the amount of strange looks because I would get my heart rate up before I started to drive again. Say what you will - it works. I even thought one guy wanted my autograph.
Just across the Texas state line - I see the blue and reds behind me. I’m lit up with my retinas burning wondering where did he come from? Straight away I realized where I was (good ol’ boy country). I couldn't help but begin to think about the stories of young black males being pulled over with bad outcomes. It was unsettling because I was alone. But then I began to think. I remembered that I have the power to make good choices.
I signaled over and pulled into a safe, wide spot for both of us. I then turned on every interior light in the truck and rolled down all 4 windows. The unstable flashlight walked, came my way and bounced in my side view mirror. As it got closer, I slowly reached both of my hands, spaced wide apart out of the window. I spread my fingers as wide as humanly possible. My efforts must have gone a long way. Just after hearing the officer's gravel-y footsteps come within 2 feet of me, I felt both of my hands being gently swept back inside in truck. At the same time Office Wilson said… “Put ur hands back inside there,” but the with biggest shit-eatin' grin I've ever seen. He couldn’t stop smiling. He went on to ask me the “when's and where’s” which was prompted by the truck full of boxes, duffel bags and 2 bikes on the hitch rack.
We visited for over 30 minutes with a deep dive into bikes and bike racing. Officer Wilson let me off without a ticket. He asked me to watch my speed and be careful as I was approaching a stretch of highway known for deer accidents. I thought he was making it up, but sure enough not less than 2 miles later, I saw some deer on the side of the road with temptation in their eyes.
I learned a great deal from that experience:
One - There are kind people everywhere.
Two - Always try hard to be mindful and respectful of others.
Three - Perceptions hold no value.
Four - You are not a product of your environment, but your choices.
Five - When interacting with people... having bikes on the rack always makes it easier.