Today some local police asked me to show some identification as I was getting ready to leave the post office. Interesting.
Patti, Pickles the Dog and I piled into the truck and took our daily eBay mailings down to the post office. It's a daily tradition - almost every day at some point in the afternoon you'll see us there. Typically, while the weather is warm, Patti goes into the post office mails the packages, picks up things and goes to the counter if needed. Today was stamp buying day, so that made a trip to the counter necessary, and some times that can take several minutes, depending on how many people are ahead of you who wish to chat.
Pickles and I walk across the street and sit in a shady area on a small concrete wall near the Waldensian Museum.
This happens day after day.
Today a few minutes after Pickles and I had settled in, a white Jeep approached us. As it got near I saw it was an unmarked police vehicle - there were 2 people in it, one in uniform and one in plain clothes. It passed me up then made a U-turn and parked near end of the post office parking area across the street. I saw this out of the corner of my eye, didn't think much of it and went on thinking about whatever I was randomly thinking about. Pickles was busy smelling the grass around her.
A couple of minutes later they left and drove down St. Germain, but then stopped, two or 3 houses down. That I found interesting. I did look at them, but why wouldn't I, it was odd. They were there for a minute or so, then Patti came out & Pickles an I got off the wall and walked toward our truck. The police car made a U-Turn on St. Germain, then parked across the street from me. I was actually in the truck & starting it up when they approached and asked to see some identification. Pickles started barking at that point, but wasn't as bad as she could have been. Pore ol' dog doesnt know any better. I was very polite.
So I gave them my drivers license. The one in uniform asked what I was doing in the area, so I told him. The other looked in the back of the truck (there's not anything there) then ran my name and license plates, asked me if the address was valid and all that. Everything checked out so they gave me my drivers license back, said thank you & told me to have a good day.
After that we drove over to the Family Dollar, one of Valdese's premier retail establishments, then headed home.
They never told me why they were checking me out, and I never asked. I figured as long as they didn't ask me to step out of the truck or start putting me in cuffs I wouldn't worry about it. I dont know if I fit a description, or if the truck did, or if for some reason I just looked suspicious to them. It is possible I looked a tad unkempt to the casual observer. I suppose I need a hair cut, could use a shave, and certainly was not dressed in my Sunday best. And technically I suppose I was loitering, sitting there waiting for Patti to come out of the post office. I probably looked out of place.
I suspect they searched the area where I was sitting after I left, but I can't prove it.
I've lived in enough small towns to know there is a strong undercurrent of lawlessness about, and Valdese is no different. There are a lot of people who live on the very edge, people who bend or outright break rules of society, people who mostly are never noticed by the church going white people with enough money and a comfortable place to live. There are drug abusers, thieves, alcoholics, abusers of wives, husbands & children, sex offenders, convicted felons, shop lifters, robbers, the occasional murderer, violent, unsavory, undesirable people living in Valdese and the immediate area. They don't make up the majority of the community by any means, not even close, but they are present, and most likely only the police have a good idea of just how present they are. Most people ignore it, arent affected by it, out of sight, out of mind.
I've had a lot of experiences in my life, I've lived in a lot of small towns and I am very aware of this seething undercurrent of dregs in polite society. These days I mostly sequester myself from it. I don't want anything to do with it. So I can go for a long period of time with no reminders of it's existence. But all I have to do is pay attention to realize it's right there. All anyone has to do is look.
There are a lot of people in Valdese & in Burke County North Carolina living right on the edge. It is not a wealthy place.
I don't know why these policemen decided they needed to talk to me. Maybe some tall guy with brown hair lugging around a goofy half hound half retriever robbed a convenience store. I doubt it. Most likely they were looking for someone, or perhaps I just looked out of place. Either way, I can understand.
UPDATE - Aug 2, 2011:
I found out today that someone robbed the BB&T bank on Main Street about 10 minutes before we loped into the post office. No one hurt, apparently no weapons involved (at least none anyone could see), but that explains the unusual behavoir of the local constabulary.