14 May, 2008

Observations and Musings... Part 1

Location:  Corner of 41st and University
Mood:  passively confrontational

This morning, I got a coffee in the U-District at a shop on "The Ave" after my appointment at the therapist.  I parked on 42nd, and walked over to the shop.  On the way back, I crossed the street against the traffic light - 42nd is not a main street, and there were no cars close, and this is something I do all the time.  As I crossed, and was almost completely across, a woman driving a Jeep Cherokee is flying down the street, and she blares on the horn at me.  Now, there was absolutely no danger of her hitting me.  And in fact, had she not been going at least 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, she would have been over 100 meters away when I was completely crossed.  But nope.  She blares on the horn.

I mouthed the words "What's your problem?" and that was all.  End of story.

But it occurred to me, in that split second, that I wished I had done something else.

I wished I had stopped dead in the middle of the street and watched her slam her brakes.  And then I would have confronted her and said "Do you have a fucking problem?" and I could have also pointed out to her that she needs to chill the fuck out, and perhaps consider not speeding in a crowded urban neighborhood.

She might have got into an accident...
She might have hit me with her car...
I might have received a jaywalking citation...

Lots of possibilities.

But I didn't do any of that.  I just went to my car, briefly angry that this person is so annoying.  Maybe I have been that annoying on other occasions.  Probably.

This reminds me of some other instances where I have wanted to "escalate" instead of just walking away, or minimizing damage.

One time, I was walking through the UW campus, and cutting through a parking lot, I saw a friend's pickup truck parked in the lot.  I wanted to leave a little funny joke for him, so I walked over to his truck, and I stood up the windshield wipers so they were sticking out.  No big deal, right?


A UW Police car sees me doing this, and they stop and get out of their car, and say to me, "Sir, put those wipers back, and step away from the vehicle".  And I said "This is just my friend's car, and I was leaving it as a joke".  And the officer says "Sir, I said, 'put the wipers back, and step away from the vehicle'"

And in that moment, my dignity challenged, something welled up inside of me, and what I wanted to do was escalate.  I wanted to challenge the officer.  I wanted to get arrested.  I wanted to create a situation where I would basically be exemplifying unnecessary police response.  Hell, I wonder if I can get the officer to strike me, without even doing anything other than refusing to not play a prank on my friend!  How far will the officer go?

My heart is getting worked up all over again right now.

But I didn't.  I put my tail between my legs, with the coaching of my girlfriend, and I put the wipers back, and walked away pissed.  And after the officer got back in his car, I swore at him, quietly enough that he would not hear "you fucking asshole".

The reality is, if I had not backed down, I would have been arrested.  Plain and simple.  And I would have probably been cited with malicious mischief or trespassing or some bullshit like that.  And I would have had to go to court, and miss work, and it would be thrown out, after a lot of my time wasted.  And what point would I have proven?  None, except you can't fuck with the police.

Another time, also in the UW campus, I was walking down the Burke-Gilman, and two police cars were apprehending an African American man, who seemed to be either drunk or on drugs, and they were yelling at him.  He was trying to speak in his own defense, and they kept telling him to shut up.  They did not let him say a word.  What I wanted to do was to walk over there, and get involved and say "Why are you violating this man's civil rights and dignity?"

But I didn't.  I kept walking.  Because the police would probably either tell me to mind my own business, or ask me if I have a problem, or maybe even tell me I am obstructing injustice or something like that.

You can't fuck with the police.  They have guns, and they're allowed to shoot you.


  1. Ozone is having a tough time with his pancreas.

  2. why did i approve this commment?