From today’s Quora Digest email.
Once. I pulled up behind a car stopped on the shoulder of the interstate. 5 Hispanic gang banger types standing around it. I ask if they need help. They spoke very little English but they spoke Spanish among themselves. I noticed they kept encircling me. I would step out of their circle and they would encircle me again. Then a guy in the back seat hiding under a blanket appears. Hackles on my neck are standing straight up by now. So…I get back to my squad car and drive away. I don’t know how it would have turned out had I stayed but I am pretty sure I would not be here to write this answer.
Edited to add the following. In rural areas there is no backup. I was the only squad car within 50 miles. Secondly while I thought these guys were acting weird they were not actually doing anything illegal, they were simply stopped along side the interstate and standing beside their car.
I’ve known enough LEOs over the years, and heard enough similar stories from them, to know that the refinement of exactly that sort of sixth-sense intuition can be the difference between life and death, quite literally.
Update! Another one, same source.
Seeing how quickly and unexpectedly you can die.
Man went to McDonald’s — which was a treat — for his family’s dinner, and on the way back, was broad-sided in the driver’s door. He’s dead in the driver’s seat and his family’s dinner is all over the front of the car. When he didn’t come back, his 10-year-old son went looking for him on his bicycle and came up on the accident scene. The child climbed into the wrecked car and was hugging his dead father. We weren’t going to stop him, and the fire department stayed longer than they normally would have in case there was any unexpected fire.
Another officer took the child home in his police car and informed the wife of what had happened. Prime example of one of those evenings when a cop skips dinner because he has no appetite.
The driver that hit him was a teenager who had just stolen a tank of gas from the local AM/PM Mini Market, and was being chased by the idiot store manager in his own car. We arrested them both, though that did not make the outcome any better.
The only decent thing that came out of it is that the owner of a local McDonald’s franchise read about it, came in the station and we helped him arrange to pay for an elaborate funeral. The owner insisted we not talk about it publicly; he didn’t want his kind act to look like a PR move. That is class.
Indeed it is.
How quickly and unexpectedly any one of us can die is something I unfortunately know all too much about, from my own personal experience losing my late and much-mourned wife. I’ve had occasion to sit down and try to comfort other folks who have had the same bitter, painful experience of losing a loved one unexpectedly and much too soon, particularly my life-long friend Rick, whose 21 year old son died in a car wreck about five years ago.
What I straightaway said to Rick is the same thing I’ve told others: don’t waste a moment of your time trying to make sense of it, casting about for some explanation you’re never going to find. There IS no sense in it; how the hell does a 21 year old’s death make any kind of sense, to his hearbroken father and mother? It’s just something you see on the local evening news shows and automatically think of as one of those things that happens to someone else.
Until suddenly, one day, it isn’t.