I am, literally, a Street Photographer. I take many photographs of manhole covers, for example. I just posted one here:
(There is a Google+ Manhole Cover Community for these images.)
A few days ago, midday, I was walking down a crowded street that was a tourist destination, so there were many tourists, and locals, walking about.
I was on a "Photo Walk", and that manhole cover was new to me and interesting. It was in the middle of the right lane (the side I was on).
I waited for a time when no cars were coming down the road and stepped out with raised camera and took the shot. (A truck in the left lane was coming near and slowed down as it did so.) But I was in the road for not more than 10 seconds.
"It worked!" I said out loud as I had taken the shot blind, holding the camera above my head. Excellent!
Then I started walking on, and, passing me on the sidewalk, coming across the street no less (which needs to be noted), a guy says to me in a loud, angry voice, "That was really stupid!"
And I made my first mistake as I say, "What's it to you?"
Well, that triggered this guy. He went immediately into a rage, saying angrily and loudly, "I'm a cop!".
He then quickly stepped over to me, face twisted in rage, and shouted in what can only be described as vicious anger, "You can't stand in the road!" And on he went, saying several other "You..." things, in a complete fucking rage, mouth twisted, eyes behind black sunglasses, a large hulk of a man in a tight black t-shirt and neatly shaved head. Spewing his hateful admonitions toward me.
As was meant by his actions, I was immediately going into "shut down" mode and do not remember all he first said. I just stood there. At a pause in his yelling at me, I responded, "I waited until there were no cars coming. I was taking a picture."
"That truck had to slow down!" he yelled. And he repeatedly yelled in vicious anger, "You can't stand in the road taking pictures!", stepping a few inches closer to me with each shout.
That's the trained intimidation tactic that Cops do -- show anger, get close, shout control words. And at every word from the "Perp", increase the anger, step closer, shout even louder.
He did this four fucking times until he was an inch away from my face. He was the typical embodiment of an arrogant man showing that he was ready to get violent. At one point shouting, after I started questioning his actions, "Just walk down the road." Pointing the way I had come. He was trying to put some fear into me.
But I became silent then. Unmoving. He went back to his, "You do not take a picture in the middle of the road!" Adding to it, "Do you understand me?" I was silent. He stepped even closer. "You do not take a picture in the middle of the road! Do you understand me?" He stepped even closer. "You do not take a picture in the middle of the road! Do you understand me?"
He couldn't get any closer because then he would be touching me.
After a second I said something like, "Why do you seem like you're gonna beat the crap out of me?"
He leaned his face even closer to mine, and in a really low voice, but through gritted teeth and still edged with rage, said, "I'm not going to beat the crap out of you." And continued his scare tactics, "I'm just telling you to not stand in the road." Almost in a whisper, but still through gritted teeth and edged with anger.
"But I don't understand your anger, and why you seem to want to attack me or do violence."
Still with subdued rage, not addressing what I had said, he uttered again his control words, "I'm just telling you to not stand in the road." Adding this time, "Fair enough?" It was still a whisper, and still edged with that absolute rage inside him.
"Fair enough," I capitulated. And he walked away.
I should not have capitulated. He was wrong. I should have asked, "Cop? Of what town?" (he could have been a fucking tourist), "Are you on duty?" (he had street clothes), and more.
But I should have just not responded to his first remark and ignored him.
But this demonstrates the trained, planned, and executed intimidation and control tactics that Cops do all the time.
He was not a "Policeman". He was a "Cop". And all across this country, such Cops do this bullshit to many people every fucking day.
I was victimised by him. I was traumatised by him. And he meant to do that to me. He meant to do that to me. He meant to harm me emotionally.
And with PTSD such as I have, he did harm me. The traumatised brain -- whether from an abused childhood or relationship, or from a physical assault such as a rape or a beating or a robbing, or from being in war -- does not react to being accosted like what this "Cop" did to me in a normal fashion.
He's lucky that I was a meek and frail kind of PTSD sufferer. We can imagine how a large man suffering from combat PTSD could have responded.
I just stood there and took his shit, mildly talking back. And in the end, capitulated to him, letting him have his way.
And for the rest of the day and for the next several days I've ruminated over this incident, making angry outbursts at myself at times. And have been having full blown, hours long, all day long even, panic attacks.
And wanting to drink large quantities of alcohol so I can suppress all these feelings.
I can't undo what was done to me. I can only change my response to it. No one can change an asshole like him. One can only change how one deals with an asshole like him.
PTSD is called a "Disorder" for a reason. The "Disorder" is in how the brain functions. The PTSD brain is "mis-wired", and these "mis-wirings" cause the brain to react instantly and prolongingly in an "unreasonable" way. From feeling acute, severe, painful emotions to wanting to act out in harmful ways.
For myself, and for many of the combat veterans as documented in Penny Coleman's book, Flashback, we can act out in ways that ultimately harm ourselves. Many a PTSD combat veteran's life ends in suicide -- something that happens all to frequently, and always never mentioned by any Media.
I am still in a panic attack over this -- even now as I write this, days later. I can not change what happened. I have to change how I handle such things, in the now and in the future.
Having a mental disorder means that life is a challenge -- life is difficult, hard, painful.
Encounters with assholes and arrogant people makes life more difficult, even harder, more painful.
My only good thought in all this? That that asshole himself was seething in anger over our encounter for some time -- the rest of the day perhaps, or even days after. Maybe he has "anger issues". It is my hope that he is not an "angry abuser" as well.