Primarily, my interaction with the public occurs during traffic stops. During my time as a motor officer, it has occurred to me there are a finite number of personalities I speak with during a stop. It wasn’t until recently, though, that I decided it would be amusing to officially categorize them.
If you are a fellow enforcer of the law, you may have crossed paths with some of these folks. I invite you to add to the list in the comments below.
meet 'the crier'
1. THE PERUSER
You’ve given the citation to the driver, but before signing it, the peruser spends a good two minutes double-checking your work. Common corrections include: “This isn’t my address” and “My car isn’t tan. It’s taupe."
2. THE INQUISITOR
Prior to signing the citation, the inquisitor will ask you every question under the sun. The aforementioned questions may or may not have anything to do with the stop. Example: “Why did you put 55 instead of a lower speed?” My answer is typically, “Because that’s how fast you were going.”
3. THE DENIER
One of the more irritating of the categories is the denier. Not because they actually have a legitimate argument as to why they violated [insert vehicle code], but because they simply refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. They are akin to the folks who put fingers in their ears and loudly repeat “nope, nope, nope."
4. THE BEFUDDLED
These poor people. They just don’t understand. Anything. At all. They’re like the distant cousins of the deniers...but with a much lower IQ. When I run across these people, the only statements and/or questions they ask are similar to, “But. How could I...? I don’t... How is that possible?” I actually feel bad for someone so inanely stupid that they can’t conceive of the intricacies involved in applying too much pressure to the accelerator which, in turn, resulted in their vehicle going too fast.
5. THE BLAMESHIFTER
Undoubtedly, the group I like the least. These people will blame literally every other person or vehicle or mammal or inanimate object on the roadway, but never themselves. The fact that I can’t realize the veracity of their innocence is so utterly offensive to them as to be apoplectic. They insult my heritage, my youthful countenance and choice of occupation. Because they could never, ever, have [insert violation her] and I should damn well know better.
6. THE DIVA (NOT GENDER SPECIFIC)
“Oh, my Gawd! I’m having the worst day!” Cue sob story (in which there can be shades of The crier…see below). They will go on and on about every injustice with which they have been inflicted. They will have just been diagnosed with an incurable toenail fungus that will forever render them unclean and my decision to stop them is the veritable end of the world. Which is funny, because I literally say on nearly every stop, “It’s not the end of the world.” But, it most assuredly is to the diva.
7. THE BEGGAR
This is pretty self-explanatory. The beggar will do what they do best and sswwweeeeeaaarrrrr they’ll never [insert violation here]. They will plead, cajole and occasionally straight up offer a bribe to get me to look the other way. They have no concept of pride. It’s sad, really.
8. THE DEBATER
The kissing cousin of the inquisitor, the debater will play the role of the contestant on their version of the traffic stop "Let’s Make a Deal" to your Monty Hall. They live to argue and will take you to task on the legality of every action you’ve taken since deciding to make the traffic stop. Their goal is to make you second guess your decision to cite and thereby win by getting a better deal than you intended.
9. THE CRIER
When you can see hands covering the face and shoulders shaking before you even make contact, you’re about to meet the crier. The waterworks have typically made a trail down their cheeks well before you say word one. It’s a tactic car cops fall for all the time, but one that has little sway with motor officers – 99.8% of the time, if you cry for a motor, you’re getting a ticket. Don’t feel too bad, though, you were going to get one anyway.
There you have it, friends. The nine types of people you’ll meet on a traffic stop.
I know there are more out there, so add yours in the comments below.
This article, originally published 06/02/2016, has been updated.