By Louisa Benatovich
In this day and age, it’s very easy for all, especially the younger generation, to fall into the anti-cop rhetoric. Officers are so often demonized on the news that it’s easy to forget all the good that they do.
For a teenager, law enforcement presents a specific set of terrors. These men and women in blue are the ones who bust parties and pull over newly licensed drivers as they accidentally speed through Humphrey.
These are also the men and women who respond to hysterical teenage girls locked out of their cars in the town of Ellicottville.
Yes, it was more than embarrassing to call 911 at 6:30 p.m. on a Sunday after work. My car, a lovely 2007 sedan, had lashed out in a fit of petty rage. As I attempted to brush the pre-blizzard snow from my windshield, her door swung shut with my keys inside. The best part: her ignition was already running.
The 911 operator was more than sympathetic to my cause.
“My name is Louisa Benatovich,” I said breathlessly. A beat. “Do you need me to spell that for you?”
“Yes, please,” she said, almost chuckling. She calmly dealt with my location description peppered with wheezes of hyperventilation. I looked around. I was alone. “I’m a minor and I’m cold,” I wheezed anxiously into the phone.
“Someone will be along shortly,” she assured. I thanked her profusely and wished her a good night. I felt like an idiot. I could have just called the local police.
Less than ten minutes later, a policeman pulled up behind my car. The feeling of relief that washed over me is indescribable.
“So you’ve locked yourself out of your car?” he asked kindly.
“Yes,” I said sheepishly. “I don’t know what happened.”
The officer kindly waited while I dug through my purse for my license. My bag, chock full of receipts and pay stubs, was a warzone.
I offered him my passport instead. I was so shaken that I couldn’t even find the identification page.
“I still need your license,” he said. I spent more time digging through my bag. I was cold and my exposed ankles were sucking the blood from my brain. Finally, I found it and signed a liability agreement.
“Would you like to sit in the car or watch?” he asked gently. Though the police car radiated heat, my curiosity won over.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” I asked.
“Your window could break.”
The officer fetched a wedge, an air-filled sack, and a long pliable rod from his squad car. He straightened the wire by hooking it onto his tire. I was expecting some sort of movie-like action, where he slid the rod down the window and the car magically popped open
Instead, he inserted the wedge into the doorframe and use the pumpable sack to enlarge the gap. He stuck the rod through the gap and angled it towards the driver’s door handle. After several tries, he got it and the door unlocked.
“You’re a saint,” I said, almost emotional. I paused. “Do you like dark chocolate?”
I reached into the back of my car and pulled out an Elmwood Strip Bar, a decadent confection of chocolate, toffee and espresso beans.
“You don’t have to give me anything, I’m just happy to help you,” he said nobly. I forced him to take it and he told me to drive safe.
I have never been more grateful in my life.
This is the kind of world we live in. It is a majority of good, kind people just wanting to help.
With all the rancor emanating from every news source, it is so easy to forget that.
And as the wild winds whipped through the northeast, I was snugly at home, thanking the officer that allowed me to get there.