It first appeared as an odd blip in the corner of my right eye.
My eyebrows crinkled up in investigation as I drove along the section of SC 8 near I-85, returning to Easley after conquering the sale of one of our online banner ads.
Oh, yea. The contract was signed, the ad copy drawn out on a page of my note pad. I was feelin’ fine. I was feelin’ accomplished. I was flyin’ high. I was… being followed by the SC Highway Patrol. The trooper’s blue light was flashing.
At first, my reaction was to suspect the trooper must be looking for somebody else. I glanced around quickly. No one other than me in my white pickup seemed to be anywhere close. My mind raced on, searching. “Maybe if I pull over on this narrow stretch of road, he will go around in search of something else, a wreck on up the road maybe,” I thought. I hoped.
I pulled over and so did the trooper. I seemed to be the focus of his interest at the moment.
Don’t tell my mama, but an ugly word crossed my lips right then followed by resignation as I flipped on my emergency flasher and rolled down my window.
The officer was pleasant and took my registration and insurance information. He apparently checked something back at his patrol car. Did I have any outstanding warrants perhaps?
The officer returned and handed me a warning citation. “This is a 45 zone,” he said. He had clocked me on radar going… significantly more than that, too much more than that, surprisingly more than that.
I in fact needed to slow down.
“Thank you,” I said.
Most drivers have had that sinking feeling upon noticing the blue light in the rear view mirror. The situation doesn’t lend itself to happy feelings for the officer. We often look for excuses and want to blame the cop. “Go find something important to do,” I have said.
I have known a lot of cops in 20 years of reporting. There was one that seemed to lack mental stability, but then I’ve known some reporters who lacked mental stability at times.
The vast majority of cops have just been hardworking community servants who are trying to do their jobs to earn a living for families and improve their communities even if it is an improvement by one speeder at a time.
They have seen far too many broken bones and bruises because of speeding. Some have seen mothers killed because someone was driving significantly too fast along a highway, trying to get to someplace they left late to go to.
They see the simple solutions to enormous problems at times. Slow down. Fasten your seat belt. Don’t drink 11 beers in three hours and then go out for a drive.
All of this is an opportunity to say thank you to law enforcement officers in Pickens and northern Anderson counties for bothering to deal with the smaller issues to keep us out of bigger trouble.
It is also an introduction to a regular series of brief stories about officers in our communities. It started with Samuel Byers, a police officer in Pickens. Watch for the stories in these pages and on the website.
We’ll help introduce you to the people working around the clock, doing inconvenient things, cleaning up our messes. Hopefully an introduction will allow us all to see them as people trying to improve our lives when the blue light flashes in the corner of our eye.