Driving south on Hwy 55, headed back to Texas from Indiana, I had made it to southern Missouri when I saw a flashing cop car pulled over behind its victim on the other side of the highway, headed north. Seeing cops on an 18 hour, long distance road trip wasn’t unusual, I had seen plenty. This instance was unusual because there were 2 cops on the scene – one standing on the driver’s side the other on the passenger’s side – and only one victimized vehicle, and, we were not very close to a major city.
Highway cops usually have their own cars, right?
At least, that has been my experience. Anyway, I made note of it as I passed, slowed down automatically and switched over to the right lane, then continued along my way dismissive of the event, but wary because that’s what seeing cops does for me in the moment.
A few minutes later, lost in a reverie, I was a bit startled when I was passed by a convoy of 4 vehicles that zoomed past me easily and I was going about 80. They had to be doing at least 100. Feeling a bit like getting a move on myself, I began to speed up to join them when, under a bridge about a quarter mile ahead of the convoy, I spotted another cop car. The convoy must have seen it too because all of their brake lights lit up one after the next and it looked like a couple of the cars almost rear-ended the vehicles preceding them.
My heart pounded loudly and sympathetically in my own ears as I eased off the acceleration and let myself slow down without hitting the brakes, quietly thankful that I hadn’t tagged onto the end of the speed train yet like I’d wanted to. The convoy pulled over to the right lane and I could see them up ahead, now obeying the speed limit, I’m sure, nervously awaiting the dreaded sight of a shark-like, black police cruiser speeding up to catch them.
And, sure enough, it came.
I watched the cop pull out of the grassy area and quickly grow larger in my rear view and then zoom past me, headed to the convey ahead to do what cops do. I watched as the cruiser pulled alongside the group. It seemed, from the distance I was from them, that the officer slowed at each car, looked at the occupants, then moved up to the next car. Suddenly and – to my understanding – inexplicably, the cop car’s brake lights lit up and he or she slowed precipitously and careened into the median again, tearing through the grass to whip around and head north!
My mouth pretty much dropped open as I observed this never before seen event. I’ve seen cops pull over as many as 3 cars, and had prepared myself to see 4 cars pulled over on the side of the highway by a lone officer. That would have been cool, something for him or her to brag about to other cops when their shift ended. Instead, this cop GAVE UP THE CHASE.
AFTER catching the group of miscreants. Novel.
I moved over into the passing lane and sped up, no longer concerned with cops. The convoy was up ahead of me, still in the right lane, now stuck behind a Semi and going slow, slow, slow, down in the 60s, their brake lights blinking on and off as they tailed each other way too closely for safety. I drove up next to them and passed, going about 80, 85 myself.
Lo and behold.
The first car I passed, the last in the convoy, had 4 black dudes in it. The next car had 2, the car following, or before that one, had 3 and the lead car had 2 more. They had all put their blinkers on and were exiting, which is why, I assume, they had not continued along their way once the cop had decided not to pursue the ticketing avenue of opportunity. I could see them talking excitedly among themselves in each car and can only imagine that they had been texting each other as well after that rare event and decided to exit to get gas or, maybe, to declaim about the close call they had all just experienced.
I can only imagine what the cop thought. Weighing in her or his mind, whether they should pull over 11 black dudes and ticket the drivers of each car all by their lonesome. And, we were only a mile or two away from the Arkansas border, which was out of their jurisdiction! In my mind, I can kind of work out the thought process that officer went through as he or she weighed their options and can only conclude that they decided that there were much more interesting things that they wanted to do with the evening than potentially be on the national news behind a few tickets somewhere on a lonely highway between major towns.
I sped on my way, taking the entire experience as a sign, driving like a bat out of hell all the way back to San Marcos, TX. Excelsior!