The Civilized Minute

a minute of manners and musings

the gesturing policeman

This kind of thing tends to happen to me often. I go along, minding my own business and find that I actually was not minding my business…not very well, anyway.

Do you ever crave something? For me, it’s Diet Coke. I think it’s the fizz. But, it could be the Zaxby’s ice with the fizz. Yesterday, in the midst of this ridiculously long painting adventure, a Diet Coke became a must-have. Noticing it was lunchtime, I then decided a cheeseburger and some french fries were must-have’s too. Fifteen minutes later, mission accomplished. So, as I’m leaving the Wal-mart parking lot (no, I didn’t get the Diet Coke, cheeseburger and french fries at Wal-mart, but I did use their parking lot as a quick escape from the lunchtime rush…it’s bad in Perry…giggle), I passed a policeman on a curve. His right hand was holding his cell to his ear while his left was held out to me, palm up in a What’s the deal, lady? kind of fashion. As I beat back a Well, I never… reaction, I realized that his facial expression was even a little…serious. But! That could have been attributed to his cell phone conversation! He could have been trying to dissuade his girlfriend from running off with his hunting buddy. Or, maybe, he was listening to his Chief describe how they were going to be getting new uniforms – walking shorts like a zookeeper. Or, maybe, he could have just watched me blow through a stop sign. Ok, so, the “curve” was actually a stop sign followed by a right-hand turn. Semantics. Just to clear up any concerns for danger…when you sit at this stop sign and look left, you see that the road stops. It’s not like I was going to cause a pileup or anything. 

Let me hesitate right here and say I did not care for his tactic. It was smart aleck-y. What happened to a quick flash of the blue lights? I have been doing customer service training for the City of Perry for several weeks, so my other initial reaction (I often have more than one): he was waving to me because he recognized me. How nice, I thought, but that’s not what he was doing at all. He was gesturing. Do they learn that at policeman school? And, with both of his hands tied up, dare I suggest that he was driving with his knee??


I really am sorry to admit that it took me almost a full minute to process that half a second encounter with the gesturing policeman. With the radio playing (I love that new Josh Turner song about Coppertone 45), the first french fry on the way to my mouth and driving a route I drive a million times a week, I overlooked the stop sign.

After the 1-minute processing time lapsed, I had to admit failure. I had run the stop sign and it was because I had stopped paying attention to it. It’s kind of like when you stop seeing that pile of old mail on the kitchen counter or you stop seeing the growing scuff marks on your most comfortable pair of work shoes. Well, take it from me. Other people see what you stopped seeing a long time ago. Just because you don’t notice it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Use this weekend to see things anew. Take a look at your briefcase or pocketbook. Are they worn on the edges or bottom? Do they look tired and worn out?  Look over your work clothes. If anything is frayed or stained – at all – put it on the ‘to be replaced’ list. Check out your own business cards. Is the information current? Are the edges curled? 

Look at yourself and your trappings as if you were meeting yourself for the first time. Now, no hand gestures, just fix what you don’t like and move on out. 


2 responses to “the gesturing policeman

  1. Marti Tolleson November 5, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    now i’m beginning to think you could be a comedian!

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