On a dark, back road of Nantucket, we had a nighttime encounter with a flatbed truck driver who was pretty obviously drunk. The details are unimportant, but the guy got out of his truck, shouting obscenities, and ran after us because I used my high beams to see if I had enough clearance to get by. (Chasing a Bentley on foot is one indication of possessing a high blood/alcohol rating.)
When we got back to the inn, I called the police to report him, because I figured he would give other people the same grief, and maybe come back after me. The officer on the phone was dismissive, and wouldn’t even take my name. That ticked me off more than the truck driver.
After I returned home, I found the Nantucket Police Department on Google, and was impressed that Chief William Pittman had a direct email address. I wrote to tell him about his indifferent officer, because if I were he, I’d want to know.
He called me personally today, apologized, and told me what corrective actions were being taken. He even figured out who the trucker driver was, and told me the issue should have been handled far differently. He was totally professional, and service-oriented. I know if I had been wrong, he would have told me that in the same manner.
I’m impressed. No one is perfect, no department is perfect. But when leaders are determined to be responsive and constantly seek improvement—and not be defensive—good things happen. And maybe a future assault is prevented.
Compare this to another experience in Nantucket: I’m waiting for my wife at a convenience store, where all the parking spaces are filled, so I’m in a loading zone, with the motor idling, at 9 at night, when no one on earth is going to load or unload on Nantucket. I notice a heavy guy walking down the street looking at me, and it looks like he has a holster, though I figure it’s a cell phone.
Next thing I know, he’s next to me in an SUV bellowing at me, like a small town, redneck, tough guy. He screams at me not to stay in the loading zone, and I notice the light array on the SUV and look down to see “Sheriff” on the door. Politely asking me to move would have had the same ultimate outcome, right?
I recounted this at the Wauwinet bar the next night and a local guy asked me, “What kind of car do you drive?” Curious, I told him, and asked why that mattered.
“Because you ran into our sheriff,” he said, “and he just hates anyone here with money.”
“Aren’t we the ones who help the economy, and don’t most people on this island have mney?” I asked.
“Go figure!” he says.
So, hail to the Chief, at least he sets a shining example on Nantucket.
(Do you have a good or bad police authority example? Make a comment below!)
© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.