Law officers have all kinds of requirements for the job, such as the ability to lift a certain amount of weight, and run so far in a certain amount of time. But the last time I checked… bagging groceries are not one such job requirement.
But a couple of Knox County deputies were pretty good at it Friday afternoon.
I was northbound on Chapman Highway to turn right into the entrance to Wal-Mart, Wallgreen Pharmacy, Radio Shack, etc. I noticed there was a big pile of stuff in the oncoming side’s left turn lane. And then, I saw what caused it. Some folks in a van had apparently been to the grocery store, and placed several bags of groceries in the back. Either the latch broke, or somebody didn’t close the hatch all the way. When the van accelerated to make the left turn, the back door flew open and a bunch of groceries hit the pavement.
The van had stopped on the little road that goes beside Walgreen Pharmacy so a woman inside could hop out and shut the hatch. Then, instead of abandoning the groceries, she pulled into a parking lot and started to walk toward the intersection. She obviously wanted to retrieve as much as she could. Anybody who knows that intersection would say a pedestrian bent over picking up items from the pavement would be a terrible risk. There was nothing I could do because grand-daughter Sarah was with me.. and the safety of the grandchildren trump every other thing when I’m driving.
When we pulled into the pharmacy parking lot, there she was the woman gathering groceries. But she wasn’t in the road lanes.
Instead, a couple of Knox County deputies had stopped lanes for a second on Chapman, and made quick work of picking up what was left of the spilled load. It didn’t take the two officers long at all to get things taken care of. It’s hard to say what the groceries were worth, but I know my purchases run a rough average of about ten bucks a bag.
The two men were either just getting off their shift, or just starting their tour and would not be off until around midnight. I’m sure they were Knox County Officers, but I didn’t think to check the roof of their cars for ‘airwatch’ numbers. Both deputies would probably say it was no big deal for them to stop and help clear the intersection and keep someone safe.
But it was a big deal. A lot of us might be able to lose a few bags of groceries and keep on going. But whoever had bought these items was hit hard enough by the loss they were willing to walk into that road to try to get some of it back.
They don’t teach a class in “Law Enforcement And Helping Someone With Spilled Groceries” at the academy.
That kind of thing comes from upbringing, and a sense of duty to do the right thing even when you don’t have to.
Day after day, I listen to law enforcement, EMS and fire services on radios. You can hear them humming in the background of my morning newscasts. Sometimes the boss complains about it when it really gets loud. But I don’t miss a lot. And I promise you that, in East Tennessee, the kind of thing I just described for you happens a lot more than you might think.