July 11, 2016
Another story that restores our faith in human kindness
Bear with me on this one folks. So last Saturday evening I did something that I don’t do nearly enough; I uniformed-up and went out on patrol. It’s not that I don’t like to do so…it just seems like there’s never enough time to do my administrative duties and be able to get back to doing “real police work”.
While I was out on patrol, at around 9:00 PM, I started to get a little hungry and decided to stop at a local fast food restaurant on the southwest side of Cedar Rapids to grab something quick to take with me. It doesn’t necessarily matter where I stopped, but they claim to have invented the chicken sandwich.
So I’m in line in the drive-thru for what seemed to be a little longer than usual. I’m not complaining, but it did give me some extra time to study my surroundings. I was fourth in line behind a minivan, a small car, and a silver SUV. The driver was the lone occupant of the SUV; a black male, who I estimated to be in his twenties. Some of you may wonder why I bothered to mention his race, as it really shouldn’t matter, but it will be relevant when I get a little further into my story.
My patrol car is an unmarked Ford Taurus. It has a siren and all of the emergency lights that the marked patrol cars have; they’re just mostly hidden. But if you pay any attention at all, you can still tell that it’s an unmarked police car…and, as I had previously stated, I was in full uniform at the time.
So after waiting approximately 5-7 minutes in line, I worked my way up to the drive-thru window to get my order. When I pulled up, the teenage employee cheerfully greeted me and explained, “The guy in the car in front of you paid for your meal.”
I smiled widely and, believing that one good deed deserves another, gladly “paid it forward” by paying for the order for the woman in the vehicle behind me. While paying the clerk, he gleefully commented, “This is so cool!” He then handed me my order, I thanked him, and I drove off…content that the driver of the silver SUV and I had both done something nice for a stranger.
It just so happened that when I went to pull back onto the road, the young man that had paid for my food was in the lane immediately to my left, with both of us waiting at a stop light. I rolled down my window, motioned for him to do the same, and sincerely thanked him for paying for my order. I also advised him that I had done the same thing for the lady behind me. He smiled and told me that I was welcome and we both went our separate ways.
Now I can’t say for sure that this young man actually knew that he was paying for the food for a cop, or if he was merely in the mood to offer a gesture of kindness to whomever happened to be in line behind him; and maybe it really doesn’t matter. But in light of all that is occurring in our nation these days, specifically when it comes to the concerns with police and the public and race relations, I chose to believe that this young black man did a very unselfish thing, and paid for the meal for a white cop that he didn’t even know. And for that, I am forever grateful.
Brian D. Gardner
Linn County Sheriff