I had just returned from a weekend conference and was resisting the fact that it was already Monday. Hunger pangs told me I had worked up to the lunch hour, so I thought I'd hop in the car for a. quick run up the street for some takeout.
As I approached the drive-thru, I saw several cars lined up down the street. Everyone else seemed to have the same bright idea of a '90s lunch on the run. So I impatiently idled behind a late-model, teal-green pickup truck that was waiting on the street to find its place in the drive-thru.
Suddenly, I saw the truck's backup lights and the word "FORD" inching toward the front of my car. I thought, "This can't be happening. Not today."
Honking the horn did no good, and I couldn't back up with the long line of traffic behind me. I had nowhere to go and braced for the sound of scraping metal as the pickup's bumper dug into the hood of my car.
It was my first accident. Although it was a fender bender and no one was hurt. I was left shaken, but otherwise OK.
I figured an officer would probably treat the incident as something routine. In fact, it was a minor accident, but it didn't feel routine to me, the victim. That thought, compounded with frustration about work deadlines, increased the flow of adrenaline as I went to a pay phone to call the police.
Two police officers arrived at the scene. One was a field training officer, who was teaching the ropes to a trainee. I was immediately put at ease when they asked if I was hurt. Their concern seemed so genuine, so non-threatening.
The officers gently asked to see my driver's license and proof of insurance. The training officer then explained what would happen and mentioned that it would take an hour to complete the paperwork and that it would probably be best to get something to drink and try to relax. She detected my anxiety and took an interest. I felt like someone understood my feelings and wanted to help me through it.
So I took her advice and sat amidst a revolving lunch crowd while I cried into my Coke.
Before I knew it, 60 minutes had passed and the officer came to retrieve me.
Never once did I feel she trivialized the circumstances. Instead, she took the time to make sure I was OK before leaving the scene.
The Orlando PD is fortunate to have such a conscientious field training officer, whose sincerity and attentiveness will go a long way to mold new recruits into officers who know what it means to serve the community.
It's a small gesture with big returns.
Thank you Ofc. Nowik and Ofc. Larkin .
Patricia A. Parker is a documentary producer and writer for public television in Florida.
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