Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fun With Pigs

Ok, I’ll admit it, I’ll fess up – Sometimes being a cop was fun.

In my home town, we had one who spent his whole day at the intersection of Main and Walden Streets – He was the traffic light. There was a little booth out in the middle of the intersection, and that’s where he stood all day, directing traffic and letting peds X. Maybe there’s a light there now; I hope not… I remember him chasing our car down the street, yelling, "Stop" to my dad, as we headed out for a vacation: Dad had left his coffee cup on the roof. Anyway, I noticed as a youngster that he talked a lot, I thought to himself: Oh sure, when we were crossing, he’d say, “Go ahead, girls, you can cross,” because it was the 60's and we had long hair. But I always wondered what he was saying when there wasn’t anybody crossing – Later in life, I would find out.

And when you’re driving, daydreaming or listening to tunes, and all of a sudden there’s a cop right on your ass? I know I saw their lips moving, what was that all about?

Well, since I now have some experience, let me enlighten y’all.

I’ll use for my first example the worst plain ol’ traffic cluster I remember – At probably the busiest intersection in the town I worked in, (And in the words of Dave Barry, I am not making this up), a truck took the corner a smidge hot and spilled boxes of roofing nails all over the street. The boxes exploded and spread said roofing nails everywhere – I don’t know how many, but let’s just say really a lot and go from there. I get there, and the construction guys want frantically to start cleaning up, but drivers have already driven over the nails and we have about a half dozen cars with blow outs. Its morning rush hour; welcome to day shift patrol work!

So, after getting everybody stopped, we proceed to open minimal lanes through the nails so that we can continue the clean up and get the traffic moving too. Now, the intersection is a huge clusterfuck, there are cop cars, fire trucks, construction vehicles, disabled cars, people out all around them – Let me ask you; how hard should it be for people behind the wheel to realize that something is up? How hard should it be for folks to pay attention, drive carefully, and help us all get through this? Answer: Way the hell harder than you can possibly imagine!

So, what was the nice Officer, (Me), out there talking to himself, (Not), saying? Well, it went kinda like this:

“Come on… COME ON!! YOU, drive, NOW! Lord… Okay you wait – WAIT! That’s why I’m showing you the stop hand, jerk, WAIT!! Ok, you – Yeah YOU, go, dipshit! NO!! NOT OVER THERE!!! STAY IN THE… SHIT! Ma’am? MA’AM! THEY’RE BLOWN NOW SO JUST GET IT OUT OF THE WAY RIGHT NOW, PLEASE! HEY! I said WAIT, you JERK!”

That’s what they’re talking about out there.

And the driving thing? Easily explained – Let’s start with a simple statistic: Percentage of overall times that a cop following right behind you IS interested in you when you’ve been doing, “Nothing wrong” - Maybe 5%. Percentage of overall times that a cop following right behind you because he or she only wants you to GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY – 95%.

We call it Black & White fever. Citizen sees cop car, instant guilt trip ensues, driver slows to snail speed and drives really, really, really carefully. See the above stats, learn it, believe it! Yes I understand the sensation –Hell, when I was driving a patrol car and went by a traffic guy doing radar, I’d go, Oh shit! And slow down and be paranoid for a second or two… Really, truly, 9 times out of 10 they are going somewhere else, have something they have to do, need to get a move on, and YOU’RE IN THE WAY!

Biggest mistake I ever made in this regard was… Well, let’s just say I was downtown on a busy Friday night, people all over the place, I'm following somebody with serious B & W Fever, I needed to get by and on to what I was doing, she wouldn’t move, and wouldn’t move, and finally I lost it and yelled, “WILL YOU PLEASE JUST GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY AND LET ME BY?!?!?” And my windows were all open. Bad career move… I still cannot believe that nobody called to complain, although most of the people on the street were laughing.

I was cruising once with a partner, downtown, weekend evening, when one of the local ne’er-do-wells came bopping down the sidewalk. He was sneering at every one he encountered, spitting, laughing at things other people couldn’t see. He wore black leather pants with a big wallet chain, and a green leather jacket. Oh, and he had dyed his hair green and was maybe 5’ 4” in heels. The citizenry was properly cowed until we rolled by. My partner saw the perp, and without missing a beat, yelled at top volume, “Hey! Somebody grab the Leprechaun, they’re worth money!”

Mr. bad deflated like a popped balloon and the citizenry was in tears, laughing.

When stopped for traffic lights, I liked to pick out folks with radar detectors and blast ‘em with my onboard unit. I'd watch ‘em scramble to turn it down, their heads on a swivel, looking for the danger: They’d see me about the time they’d realize they weren’t moving, and I’d be there with my radar and a big shit eating grin…

Ever notice how most cops don’t pull right next to you at traffic lights? They pull up short of your vehicle so that they can see you and what you’re doing, in case you’re a bad guy. Then if everything is cool, they might slide up closer for a closer look-see. So one night I’m doing just that, and I see in the car to my immediate right a lot of motion in to the back seat by the guy in the passenger seat. It’s a young lady driving; they look college age, probably… They don’t feel dangerous, but the guy’s head is on a swivel, so I sneak up for a closer look… Right as the guy completes his 360 visual sweep, decides everything is A-OK, and pops open a road beer. I wait until he’s got it up to his lips for his first sip and yell, “HEY!” he turns, spilling beer all over himself and the car, and sees me smiling. “Check ALL the way around before you do that, OK?”

I didn’t write him; I didn’t have the heart. Besides, his girlfriend was laughing too hard.

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