Have you ever cried to try and get out of something? The tears may have been real, but they also may have been amped up for dramatic effect, all in the hopes that someone will want so badly to stop your tears that they’ll do what you want?
I tried that once. To get out of a ticket.
And so did the presenter at a workshop I attended recently. The presenter shared that when she was in college, she tried to persuade a police officer not to give her a ticket by crying. In college, she had gone out with a bunch of guy friends – her preferred crew since they came with less drama than girls. I get that. And she and her group of friends engaged in a game that involved spraying a fire extinguisher at unsuspecting folks. A hilarious and terrible game to play. Eventually, they were stopped by the law. And this presenter turned on the tears to get out of trouble. Every single guy she was with got ticketed. But she did not. Her tears had persuaded the officer.
Since she had begun her anecdote by asking the room if any of us had ever tried to persuade anyone by crying, the memory of the time I tried to cry my way out of a situation with police came flooding back to me. In a moment during a break, I approached the presenter to tell her how differently our stories had ended.
In the spring of 2003, my bestie and I took a short weekend road trip to New Orleans to see Matchbox 20 concert. We headed down I-20 out of East Texas, but before we could cross over the state line, I was pulled over for speeding. I freaked out immediately. I had never gotten a ticket before, hadn’t even had my car for a year, and was a poor college student trying to figure out how i would ever be able to afford a speeding ticket, especially since i had barely enough money to take this trip with my bestie.
I told the officer I’d never been pulled over before, even as I handed over my license. By the time he asked me to get out of the car and stand by the trunk, I was ugly snot crying. I barely noticed through my tear-blurred vision that he approached my bestie’s side of the car and talked to her briefly before returning my license to me, handing me my ticket, and sending me on my way.
But y’all. This is not the extent of the differences between the presenter’s “tears of persuasion” story and my own. My bestie told me years later that when the officer approached her window, he asked her if she was there against her will.
When I shared this with the presenter, her jaw dropped. She was – appropriately – shocked.
And of course you will have guessed by this point that both my bestie and the presenter are white women.