A cop touched me today.
Another one today told me about "coming up" in the Northeast back in the 80s.
"D'you know the Concourse?" he asked me, as if it were possible for a newspapergirl not to. It wasn't the best of conversations. We had very little in common. Conversationally paralysed, instead of asking him some cool question like, "So, what's your favorite patrol zone - who has the best commander?" I attemped to clarify the headlights laws, and I felt like the biggest nerd on the planet.
The traffic cop called me "Sarah," which, I guess, is a version of my name in some parallel place, such as a very large urban greenspace, where the wind was chilly and myself and most of the children there for their event underdressed. At any rate, it illustrates how hard it is to talk to law enforcement, even when you're not being enforced upon.
Is it hard to make friends when you're a cop?
When I left that scene and went to get lunch at the Subway, yet another officer was encountered by me. I recognized him, but he didn't me, just expanded his banter with the cashier girl. She said, jokingly, "You gave me this penny too late; I don't need it," as she gave him back his change.
"You see how we're treated?" the cop said, trying for a joke at me. "Everyone hates us."
"I like the police," I said.
"Sure, until we stop you."
"I don't break laws. . .," which led to him complaining that he had gotten a parking ticket recently, etc., sure, haven't we all, and someone else in the store said that her friend got one but it was only $2 and wasn't due until 2008. Incredulous comments came from the few worker guys having their sandwiches. I said, "Yeah, Lawrence, Kan. parking tickets are only two bucks."
Then I took my sandwich to a neighborhood meeting, where an officer I do like (and who is married with kids and whom I've known for several years) did teasingly bump up against my shoulder before sitting down in a chair next to me. We both were "job"-ligated to be there.
Disclaimer: there was nothing negative I could feel about that contact, no matter the "effect" my opening paragraph.
Is it odd that a person like me would so frequently be in the presence of law enforcement? There were a number of other officers in my day, though our interaction was indirect. They're everywhere.
But no one I know has a police officer as a friend. I certainly don't.
I have a friend whose friend is in the police academy, and it will be interesting to see how that goes.
It's likely I saw her standing at attention Monday morning on Truman Road, one woman in one of two rows of new recruits.
I feel that I am just (obviously) too liberal to be involved on a genuine personal level with anyone who makes money (my recycled tax money) enforcing laws in which I don't wholeheartedly believe.
Of course I "agree" with some laws; inconsistency is the hallmark of humanity. So is thievery. I am irritated, naturally, when some danged opportunist chooses me as their slave and makes out to steal my things; then "laws" seem like some recourse.
However, I don't recall seeing rehabilitation or punishment work much in real-life scenarios. Twice, I should say, I did see jail-terms transform two cocky youngish males into more responsible and productive people. They had a good foundation, though. I was so scared of cops back then that I wouldn't even visit the one guy, and when I did see the other, I was half-implicated in the whole mess and therefore a nervous, defensive wreck. (I was not a conspirator nor charged, for the record.)
But sicking the system on someone doesn't usually produce better behavior. It certainly doesn't get you your car or your peace of mind back. We don't have enough jails to contain all the predators, and if you're a victim of one, the cops usually aren't going to make it to your aid until you're already bleeding.