Holding on to a job in the Silicon Valley then had become a problem for many. Harder still was to land a job. When my husband finally found work again, it was making a quarter of what he made before. And though it was income-enough to buy food, it wasn’t enough to have a place of our own.
So we lived here and there, at the mercy and kindness of family and friends, however separated from our two teenagers, still attending college. We did not want their education to be disrupted. It was imperative now more than ever that they finished their education. Without which they would not stand a chance in a fiercely competitive world.
We’d lost much, but we at least had our old Ford Aerostar—a clunker but still running, and it got us around. However since funds were very limited, our car wasn’t registered or insured. And then one night it happened; we saw the red lights, heard the wailing siren, and were pulled over. We’d been discovered, adding to our shame and humiliation.
The officer cautiously approached our car, and I thought for sure this was the night we’d not only lose our old vehicle, our only transportation, but would also be heading to jail as well. My husband had already rolled his window down, and we waited for the officer to approach.
From a safe distance, the man in blue flashed his flashlight on us and asked to see “license and registration.” He soon realized we posed no threat and approached a little closer. My husband was the first to speak; with great difficulty he tried to explain our situation, all the while I noticed his voice quivering. He told the officer how he’d lost his job, then our home; how we’d been roaming, living from place to place, and why we couldn’t now afford insurance or registration for our car. He explained that we’d just come back from visiting our two teenage children and dropped off groceries for them for the week.
In the end we’d told him more than he needed to know, and he patiently listened, without interruption.
When my husband finished, the officer began to scold, telling us that if it’d been another cop, a young and uncaring officer, someone just out to do his duty, he’d have impounded our car and hauled us off to jail. He went on and on… Then I couldn’t hear him anymore, I was crying so hard, and feeling so ashamed. I then chanced to look over at my husband, and reaching for his hand, I noticed he, too, was crying, tears flooding his face. But what really got me more than anything was when I lifted my eyes to the still talking officer, I saw that tears were streaming down his face, too.
We were now at the mercy of an officer of the law, with our fate in his hands.
His pronouncement: “I don’t care how you do it, borrow the money if need be, but register and insure this car TOMORROW! Don’t let me find you driving this car again illegally!” His voice then lowered, and with obvious compassion he told us he was letting us go, and then wished us luck and to keep our chins up.
That cop, the man in blue, turned out to be our angel of mercy. The first positive thing we’d seen in a long time.