To the editor:

Memphis, a music-loving, rib-smoking child of the Mississippi River. And of course a place where Elvis will live forever. It gets hot and humid in Memphis. With the death of George Floyd some folk’s temperatures have slowly risen like the water left in a garden hose out in the sun.

My son Robert is a Memphis police officer, going on 22 years now. Starting as a rookie uniform patrol officer, moving to felony assault investigator, homicide sergeant, and now a lieutenant at uniform patrol. Street creed is earned by experience.

A few days ago he was in a dine-in, take-out food place in Memphis named Pyros, Greek for fire and heat, picking up an order to go. A black woman was in front of him and he said to her “Hi, how are you today”. She left, he picked up his order and went to his vehicle.

She was in her vehicle and had started to drive away but had not driven into the street yet. Robert pulled up behind her vehicle, stopped in the lot. A black man was walking by her vehicle and noticed her crying. He went to her driver’s side to talk to her and then motioned to Robert to join them. The man who walked up and the woman in the vehicle were talking about what is going on in the world today. As Robert approached her vehicle he could see she was still crying.

The black woman was so mad at herself for judging Robert because of the police uniform. She stated she had already decided about him, “because of the blue,” and thanked him, still crying, because he was nice to her. “I wasn’t raised like that,” and stated her folks would be upset with her. She apologized to Robert and thanked him for simply saying hi to her.

The three of them chatted briefly about making our own decisions and judging each person on their merits or lack thereof.

Five minutes in the life of three people that have never met but it might have made a difference. And maybe it helped the world we are living in keep turning toward a better tomorrow for all of us. It gets hot in Memphis.

Lew Wilkie



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