I remember the first time I was pulled over. Tears streaming down my face, 18 years old, I apologized profusely explaining I was late for class after having worked with kindergartners all day and if he gave me a ticket my parents would be ever so mad. The officer sighed, leaned into the car and said "Promise me you wont speed like that again." I promised, and he let me go with a warning. I kept my word to him. Yet this past Thursday despite my most sincere efforts, it finally happened. I was in my neighborhood exhausted from a long day of classes, cavities, and groceries and about to turn right. I stopped at the stop sign and saw the blue and white flashing lights of a cop to my right just up the hill towards my home. I thought, better make sure to fully stop.. the cop's standing right there up the bend. I stopped. I turned right (turning my blinker on, and everything). I drove. As I drive up the slope he stops in front of my car, motions me to pull over and says I didn't stop. "But officer... I did stop" I began but he interrupted me "I saw you with my own eyes run that stop sign" I knew it was useless to argue. "You're giving me my very first ticket" I told him as he took my information, he smiled as he handed my license back to me, "I know" he replied.
I felt so hurt. I did nothing wrong. I know I stopped. I saw the cop. Ten years of a clean driving record I see a cop and his flashing lights directly to my right and decide, well this seems like a fine time to run that stop sign? It's illogical. Yet its a game of "my word against his" and there's nothing I can do.
The thing that upset me the most is the injustice. I did nothing wrong yet a cop set to meet his quota decided I would do since he was already out of his car writing someone else a ticket. It was strange to look him in the face as he lied saying he saw me run a sign I knowingly stopped at. Punishing me for something I did not do. Injustice ticks me off. Injustice bites. Injustice blows. And yet I couldn't help but think how injustice in this world is an inevitability and unyielding fact of life and it happens in far worse forms than my simple ticket. The police who evict the landless Mayans of Guatemala, their homes burnt to the ground for the sake of profit, innocent men on death row too poor to afford a decent lawyer, or the thousands of women who die each year by fire because their lives are not deemed to be worth as much as the dowry they were supposed to bring and the cops who take bribes in exchange for pretending these women didn't exist. Thinking of them, I can't help but acknowledge that my injustice is nothing but a microscopic speck of dust.
And even considering my personal fleck of injustice in this instance, I can't help but keep perspective. I'm fortunate to live in a country where I can contest my fine and explain my side of the story. In Brazil I wouldn't be livid at my unfair ticket, but relieved that worse hadnt happened. And I cant help but admit that this ticket happened while driving, a freedom many women such as my fellow sisters in Saudi Arabia who may never experience what its like to get an unfair ticket, but with whom I'd probably not trade with just the same.
I suppose even in the bad, there is space to pause, reflect, and be grateful.