3.06.2009

To Protect and Serve...

yesterday I left out of work a few minutes early
no... I had not gotten out of work early so that I could get in a post work ride
but rather... I had to zip home and get my car so that I could rush across town to pick up my two young boys from school
the ride home was direct and uneventful
there was time for a few snaps of the camera
but there was no time for an extension to my ride

in the final blocks towards my house I rode at a casual pace
on 18th Street crossing over Park Road I passed my old friend Norm's house
then I felt it
felt and heard it
a car was closing distance fast behind me... not close... but approaching fast

I was riding my Surly Karate Monkey Single Speed geared for dirt
which means my maximum speed is slow even with a maximum spin
at this point I was moving casually in the no hands position
pedalling along in an upright position
not too close to the door zone... maybe in a part of the lane that people would think a bicycle does not belong
I pointed to the left to signal my intention to turn at the approaching intersection

the car behind me could be heard approaching even though my ears were covered by my old snowboard helmet
I turned back to get a better idea if this car was going to try and rush an obnoxious and unnecessary pass right at the same time I was going to take a left down Monroe Street
by this time I had noticed the car was a DC Police car
I again pointed that I was going to make a turn still not sure if they were going to try and flow past me on my left
no need to signal a left hand turn... this sign language would just confuse any following driver... including a DC Cop
the car was not so close that I could read the position of the driver's face or his hand position on the steering wheel

while making my turn the DC Cruiser was close enough that I made a turn of my head and said... THE SPEED LIMIT IS 25 MPH
the officer heard me but in a retorical sort of way he asked... WHAT DID YOU SAY?
I turned around and repeated... THE SPEED LIMIT IS 25 MPH

in seconds he car was stopped and he was out of his car and calling me over...

I rolled over and stopped by his side
in his Police Speak he told me to OFF THE BIKE AND STEP OVER HERE
it was a firm and condescending tone
I felt as if I was being process
knowing I had done nothing wrong I obliged

then there was a discussion
actually there was no real discussion
I was not trying to file a complaint
nor was I trying to put him under attack
no... this was not an effort to invite him into the madness in my head
I just wanted to make him aware of the fact that these are residential streets and he seemed to be moving a bit fast especially when approaching a cyclist

in his aggressive nothing short of bossy sort of way he quizzed me
his line of attack was slightly defensive... but also very aggressive
I did not deviate from my course... most any question he asked got the same answer THE SPEED LIMIT IS 25 MPH
then out came the pen and paper... oh man... this took the anxiety to another level
initially I thought he was going to get out the pink pad which he writes tickets.... but instead he got out a little note pad

WHAT MAKES YOU THINK I WAS SPEEDING?
I said... I never said you were speeding... I just said... THE SPEED LIMIT IS 25 MPH
I was back pedaling and could not back my way out of this situation fast enough

there were answers I would have given to a person without guns and handcuffs
but I held my blogger's tongue
I would have told any other person that I could hear the sound of the engine
the engine told me HIGH RPMS of rapid acceleration that I could see the car close the gap between us at speed

now.... the cruiser did not follow that fast or that close
he was not tailgating me
it was the fear/anxiety that he was closing in on my personal space and my unsureness that I would be overtaken at the same time I attempted to take a left hand turn

he quizzed me...
HOW DO YOU KNOW I WAS GOING FAST?
I answered simply... I own a car
I watched as he wrote... HE OWNS A CAR
then he asked... WHAT KIND OF CAR?
hold on... I am not trying to get on this guy's radar
never for a second did I want to get on this man's bad side
I just wanted to take a left hand turn without ending up inside his grill or on top of hood
I know those positions first hand and I do not care to return to them

so... there I was... with officer friendly and his police speak
the conversation was long enough and serious enough that I had already removed my snowboard helmet and my green bubble eye glasses
I felt that I needed to be respected as a person... not a kid

okay... with the sentence WHAT KIND OF CAR? written in his little notebook I felt as if there had been enough of my personal information in his hand and in his head
I was regretting contact
by this time a second cruiser had arrived
time was passing and tension was building
I was not using this as an opportunity to share one of my PRO-BICYCLE RANTS
even though I had not broken any laws I still felt as if I was on trial

with a gap in conversation... or maybe it was a gap in the police speak lecture
a lecture where he was saying things like... I AM NOT BEING SARCASTIC what makes you think...
I had answers to his questions but I did not feel comfortable answering them
I did not feel comfortable talking to him
just as I did not feel comfortable with him driving up behind me at a speed that most definitely exceeded 25MPH... but would have to slow when it got to safe following distance behind me... because I was going now where near 25MPH
I did not feel comfortable sharing my ideas with him

with the second officer on the scene and time passing I made a polite break... I NEED TO GO PICK MY KIDS UP FROM SCHOOL... I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS
not sure how clean the break in our conversation was
I did not leave feeling that we had gained ground... actually I felt that I had lost ground... that I would be more vulnerable the next time I encounter this officer
he did a good job of making me feel uncomfortable
he did a good job of making me feel intimidated
never once did I feel that this police officer was someone who could make me feel more safe
here I am less than two blocks from the house I own in a neighborhood that I have lived for over a decade and a half and I feel intimidated by the police who are patrolling my neighborhood to PROTECT AND SERVE

for the rest of the afternoon I had that tension in my stomach
not quite butterflies... but something close
it was sort of an unhealthy feeling
an uneasy feeling of something unresolved
a disheartening feeling that I did not feel safe in my own neighborhood

5 comments:

Blue-eyed Devil said...

Your first mistake was stopping. A brief u-turn, a simple hop up onto the sidewalk in the opposite direction, or short jaunt the wrong way down a one-way street is usually enough to stop Officer Fatbottom in his tracks.

gwadzilla said...

well...

my first mistake was to think that the police in my neighborhood are there to make "my" neighborhood more safe

my next mistake...

initiating the conversation

sean said...

I had a similar incident a few years ago when a cop blasted through a yield sign when I had the right of way. I was in a car. I yelled at him that there was a Yield sign. Others had done the same thing before to me there and it was dangerous.

He pulled me over and it seemed his primary mission was to raise my anxiety level so I would say or do something stupid. I stayed calm and never game him the ammo he was after.

Ended similar to yours. Nothing but bad feelings.

Big Daddy Mike said...

Some people are screwed up in the head. Some of those people become cops. Some people are fine and end up cops and get screwed up in the head. Either way, a cop should not be screwed up in the head. A bully with a badge and a gun shouldn't be treated differently than a bully with a gun. You should report this to MPD and WABA. It's typical DC cop behavior. Many of us have seen it.

Good luck. Stay safe.

TBA said...

I wonder who the cop was. The guy Reggie in MtP is always a dick to people, but he rides around in a segway.