Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Dec. 9
I live on the corner of a dangerous intersection. Actually, I don't think that puts it quite accurately enough, because I feel like the word "dangerous" implies that something bad could possibly occur there, when in fact many bad things do happen there, like clockwork. The aptly named Grand Avenue is a big and busy thoroughfare, and at intersections like the one right outside my place where there is no traffic light, it is extremely inadvisable to drive straight across Grand due to the plainly obvious danger inherent. Accordingly, at both the north and south corners, there are signs that mandate all approaching vehicles to make a RIGHT TURN ONLY. When I first moved here I thought that was ridiculous but after witnessing the terrible smash-ups that happen here on about a bi-weekly basis because lots of other uninformed people apparently also think that, being American and free, we should not be ordered to turn right on a two-way street, I quickly learned that rules are made for reasons. They say if you catch the right sunset, you'll see some kind of green flash. I don't know about that, but I do know that if you catch the right moment on Grand and Dawes, you're certainly liable to see a bulldozed skateboarder hurtling through the air or a law-abiding driver getting rammed right in the ribs by a right-turn-only rebel or a drunk smashing several parked cars or even a pedestrian carrying a surfboard catching a gentle love-tap from a Volvo. What can be done about this? Too many people ignore the pesky "law", so I think they should erect some sort of electronic contraption with three circles, one of which beams green light when it's presumably safe to proceed. It would save lives, and it just might be crazy enough to work. A couple of years ago, cops would lay low in the alley behind my place for a few minutes until someone cruised through unabashedly and then they would pull them over to give them a ticket, and a lesson. They don't do that anymore.
About an hour ago, I was doing some jumping jacks (what else would a single, jobless twenty-something man be doing at 2am?) when flickering lights in my apartment suddenly spiced up my night. I looked outside for the source and there was a cop pulling over a pick-up. Not for illegally crossing Grand though, he hadn't reached Grand yet when he got flagged. I checked the time, 2am. Gotta be a suspicion of DUI. I put on sneakers and went outside, because I like to let the cops know someone's watching in case they want to try any of that police brutality crap. The officer went up to the driver and while he was insulting the guy (there's really no other way to describe the way police "talk" to you when they think you're guilty of something) two more black and whites arrived on the scene, one of whom actually felt it might be superfluous to leave his lights flashing, other than the hazards. Trust me, the siren lights from the first two cars sufficiently illuminated my apartment complex as well as the surrounding neighborhood. Then the first cop gave the driver the dreaded moving pen test while he was still sitting in the car, which is grossly unfair in my opinion. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of field sobriety examination, this absurd little game involves the cop holding his pen and moving it slowly from left to right, and you're supposed to follow it with your eyes without moving your head. No matter how well you do, he's gonna claim you failed and you can't do anything to prove him wrong, but when the f***er does it to you when you're still in the car, it's loaded dice man, it's a two-sided coin. It's way harder to win at that game when you start off with your head at a near 90-degree angle. Your head will naturally and unconsciously want to return to it's normal straightforward position, drunk or sober. So naturally the guy "failed", and this gave the boys all the cause they needed to get the driver and his buddy out of the car for a cuff-and-search as well as a look through the vehicle for what they hoped to be a large cache of crack or corpses. That's one thing I really hate about cops, they don't want you to be innocent. They're always hoping for the big bust, they live on the opposite end of hope and faith. This time though, they didn't find anything, so they sat the two guys down on the curb, then they separated them so they could demean the driver with some more BS "tests" to make it look like they're doing their job and being real thorough, and to let the kids know who's in charge, and then finally they let them go. Before their release, one of the cops made a point to tell them that they "had to cuff" them for the search in a way that made me think that wasn't true, they probably only cuffed them because they were Latino. I've been searched a few times in my day, and they've always just told me to put my hands on the trunk of the car or something like that. Anyway, the thing that bothered me about this part of the situation was that during this whole ludicrous exercise, two cars recklessly and illegally crossed the intersection, and these bastards didn't even bat an eyelash! Here we have dangerous and illegal activity being perpetrated right in the face and under the nose of not one, not two, but three cops who are otherwise tending to a non-situation, and they didn't give those law-breakers a first thought. In case the gravity of all this is escaping you because I'm such a scatterbrained writer, THREE cops were harassing innocent people while other people were brashly breaking the law right in front of them! It was like watching a live showing of The Naked Gun! As if that wasn't enough, a third car did the same hazardous thing - and it was a cop car! Not only do they not enforce this most important law, they disobey it themselves. Then, after they let the Latino kids go, they finally got to serving, protecting, and fighting crime. Ha! Yeah right! As if they had not yet disgraced themselves and their profession enough, the three of them circled up and chatted the night away for eight full minutes, from 2:21 to 2:29, laughing it up while their engines idled though their effect on the environment did not, and their still flashing lights alerted all who would pass to their purposeless presence here. I have a neighbor who jokingly complains about his taxes paying my unemployment benefits. Tomorrow I'll tell him the sad truth that he's paying these jokers a lot more.