As a proud owner of a custom hot rod truck, I have noticed two things: One, it attracts a lot of good attention and two, it attracts a lot of bad attention. I like to refer to this as “custom profiling.” I bring this up because not too long ago I was a victim of “custom profiling.”
It was a nice sunny day and I was minding my own business, as well as all of the traffic laws, driving through a small town when a police officer, I will refer to him as Barney Fife, came flying over a hill running Code 3 (meaning sirens and lights on) and pulled me over. Officer Fife told me he pulled me over because I was violating some local noise ordinance. Yeah, right. I don’t even have a ground shaking audio system in my truck! So, now I am on my way to being a millionaire because I am the only one who knows where you can find the tweeters that dispense the massive bass that ole’ Barney Fife claimed he heard coming from the cab of my truck. My opinion and observation on this incident, is this: the officer saw my truck and I was stopped on the pretense of a noise ordinance, but it was actually because of the appearance of my truck.
In this day and age of modern profiling, I want other fellow custom auto enthusiasts to realize we are being profiled, not by race, but by what we drive and how we drive it. It seems that just a certain “profile” of police officer, not all officers though, tend to believe every person who has a ride with big wheels and a lowered stance must be a thug of some sort. So, instantly we get the privilege and humiliation of a “blue light special” on the off ramp or on some city street corner.
Well, the fact of the matter is this, I know several police officers that are also custom auto enthusiasts and drive the very vehicles certain police officers like to profile as a bad guy. I am one of these guys they like to profile, but I am not a bad guy! I served as a Military Police Officer at Camp Pendleton in the United States Marine Corps for 2.5 years out of my four years of honorable service, so I am knowledgeable on traffic stops! Go figure.
So, I ask the question, how do we avoid bad attention? Short of putting the ride up for sale or even worse, returning it back to stock condition, how do we stay out of the courtroom? Do we form organizations and then tar and feather our local political figures with our letters of dismay until they do something about it? To be honest, I do not know the answer, but what I do know is that custom auto enthusiasts, who actually take to the streets once in a while in their rides, are taking a certain risk and that risk doesn’t end at our boys in blue either! There are those enemies of fun out there, that prowl upon our metal artwork and attempt to destroy all of our long hours spent in the garage busting our knuckles. Maybe you will get off easy and only have a cop or two harass you a little bit or give you a silly citation on some ludicrous noise ordinance. On the flip side, you may come outside one bright shiny morning, only to find your newly painted $50,000 custom hauler keyed, broken into, or worse yet… gone!
Luckily for us, in my case anyway, the good tends to outweigh the bad. For instance, I can’t count how many times I have cruised down some road in my hometown and get that well-known symbol of “good-to-go”… the thumbs up. In the custom world, the golden rule is to stand out and be different, but there comes responsibility with standing out… especially when you are more-or-less a rolling billboard for all custom auto enthusiasts.
For those of you that are new to the custom auto world I leave you with this warning: If you think it will always be fun and games, you are in for a few surprises. Watch what you do while in public with your ride, because people are watching you and they will remember you. Most of all, pay attention to what is going on around you, because one minute you have a nice custom ride and the next minute you will find yourself at the body shop shelling out the Ben Franklin’s trying to fix what road rage caused.
My point is this, people just need to leave people the alone and we as custom auto enthusiast should police up our own and set the example, because we are being profiled like you wouldn’t believe. The Barney Fife police officers need to stop pulling us over for lame noise ordinances, especially when we are not hurting or bothering anyone. In the end, I guess we will just have to accept the bad along with the good and hope that there is more good than bad. Get your pleasures when you can and ignore bad cops and those devious vandals.
Until next time… keep it legal and keep it safe.