Cultural difference – meeting a US cop

A story from one of my Korean students:

Last semester, I went to the University of Arkansas in America as an exchange student.

During fall break, 2 friends of mine and I decided to go to Dallas for 4 days.

Because Dallas was the first big city I visited in the US, the trip was fun and we had a great time there except for one thing that happened to me.

I got pulled over on the highway.

On the way to Dallas, there was a construction zone on the road and every car should slow down in the area.

Even though I had to reduce my speed to 40 miles an hour or less, I slowed down just a little bit like I was driving 80 miles an hour. Right after I passed the area, a police car started to follow me with its siren on.

At first I just kept going. No one gets pulled over in Korea so I didn’t know why he was following me. But after a while I figured something was wrong. After I pulled over, the cop said to me “Show me your license”. He sounded angry. Korean police are usually polite – not angry or intimidating. Plus they are never that big.

Because I had it in the trunk, I tried to get out and open it without saying anything to him.

Actually that made him so upset and surprised, he shouted “STEP BACK!!, What are you doing?!!” He put his hand on his gun. I’ve never seen a Korean cop put his hands anywhere near his gun. Not all police even have guns in Korea. I learned later that I was supposed to stay inside the car with my hands in plain sight.

And I replied “I’m just trying to take my license out from the trunk”.

After taking it out, he checked my license and asked me some questions and when I put my hands in my pockets unconsciously, he yelled at me again “Don’t put your hands in your pocket when I speak!!” He had his hand on his gun again. I was so scared. I’ve never been scared of a police officer before.

At that time, I was so scared for the possibility that I might get a ticket from him but luckily, he just gave me a verbal warning.

I felt so relieved, but when I got back to the car, I was kind of upset again because my friends, they were all Korean girls, only talked about the cop’s muscular body, not about my security.

Afterward, I think it was a very good experience since it made me drive so safely. And I really miss road trips and driving in America.

Filed Under: Cultural differences

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