Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hug da Police

People love talking shit on cops.  Every teenager walking down the street with a mouthful of Big League Chew is sure to mutter, “Pig,” as a cop car drives past.  Either that or the old school favorite, “Fuck the police.”  We can blame NWA, general teenage angst, and misplaced frustration (don’t worry kids, your parents aren’t actually out to ruin your lives) for all of this.  But after you grow up, this hatred of law enforcement should dissolve, right?

Wrong.  Many people that pay electricity bills still gripe about the cops.  “Fuckin’ pigs shut the party down!”  Well, maybe you shouldn’t be screaming in a residential zone at three in the morning.  I’ve also heard people say that cops are simply people with massive egos that get off on telling other people what to do.  Of course this can be true of some cops but that’s just because we’re people.  There will always be a percentage of people that suck to varying degrees and for various reasons.  You can also say that a manager at Taco Bell gets off on telling people what to do.  Sure, they don’t have a gun and taser, but they have access to the tortillas.  And those are as good as gold in my neighborhood.

I bring up these obvious and unoriginal observations because I fully realized the other day why cops are kick ass, why we need them, and why they are allowed to tell me what I can and can’t do.  I now have unassailable proof that on the grand scheme of things, a cop is a better person that I on almost all attribute scales.

I was standing by the bus stop a few days ago.  It was a little after 5:30 in the morning, plus it was New Years Eve, so there was basically nobody around.  There were a few patrons at the 24 hour coffee shop across the street from me (I don’t know what it is, but the people around here drink coffee at all points of the day except for the standard 8 a.m. to noon window of time when everybody else is getting their caffeine fix) and the express buses where packed with Mexicans on their way to Beverly Hills, but other than that I had Wilshire to myself. 

I glanced up the street to where the bus would soon appear and saw a police car zooming towards me with the red and blue lights on, but no siren.  Within seconds, it came to a screeching halt (well, okay the tires didn’t screech but it came to a quick stop) five feet to my right.  I pulled the ear buds out of my ears to see what the cops wanted to ask me.  Surely it’s something along the lines of, “Did you see who was voted off The Voice last night?” or “Did you feel an earthquake?”  But I was wrong.  The cop kicked open his door and quickly stood up, cocking a shotgun like the Terminator and looking up and down the sidewalk.

“Did you see anybody come through here?” he asked me as my stomach felt like it dropped below my knees.

“Uh, no.  I was, just, uh, looking for my bus.”  I felt like I was lying to the guy even though I had nothing to do with his reason for grabbing the shotgun.  But, of course, I wasn’t lying, I was just an unhelpful little wuss that found himself in the wrong place.

He didn’t respond to me, but I’m sure he thought something along the lines of, “Jesus Christ, what a pansy.”  By this time, his partner had come around the car and they pressed their backs against the walls of the El Pollo Loco that acted as a backdrop for the bus stop.  They peered around the corner of the building and into the parking lot of the 7-Eleven that was apparently the reason for their weaponry.  I heard the police radio mumble some gibberish code and the street address of where I was standing.  Through the few words I could understand, I figured the 7-Eleven was being held up. 

I looked around myself and imagined what would happen if the assailant would come around the corner.  If he somehow managed to get past the two cops with guns, it would be just me and the lunatic in a parking lot with nowhere to hide.  I immediately dropped all notions of being brave and thought about running full-speed in the opposite direction.  There’s a church a block away; that seems like a safe enough place to go.

But as I glanced away from the cops, I saw my bus on the horizon.  There would be no way I could run to the next bus stop in time.  I had to stay in the danger zone.  I nervously glanced around and took slow steps away from the cop car until I was almost at the other end of the block when the bus arrived.  I flagged it down like a cab and the driver reluctantly pulled over.

“I’m sorry, the cops.  They had shotguns.  I, uh, I think the 7-Eleven is being held up.”

The driver looked at me as if I had just told him my dog ate my homework.  “Hmm.  Didn’t feel like getting shot today?”

“Uh, no.  Not really.”

He might as well have yawned as he pulled away from the curb.  I tried to look into the 7-Eleven as we passed it, hoping to see machine guns and smoke bombs, but it looked normal besides the two cops that stopped next to me and the two other cops around the opposite corner of the parking lot.

When the cop kicked the door open and cocked the shotgun, he was in straight up business mode.  “This is what I need to do.  This is what I am doing.”  Given the same circumstance, I elected to cower away and call my girlfriend saying something along the lines of, “He had a gun!  Like in the movies and shit!” 

And there’s the difference between normal people and cops.  They hear of shit going down and they run towards it.  If shit goes down near me, I make sure to keep myself at a safe distance before I can sit back and watch the show.  And this type of thing isn’t a once-in-a-while deal in this city.  Shit can get pretty real.  I mean, you get one good-sized earthquake and this place will become Marshall Law within an hour.  Aside from that, shit goes down daily.  Watching the news around here is like watching a recap from a month’s-worth of Law and Order episodes.  Which is great for sitting on the couch after work and having something to watch while eating toast, but probably not so good for the guys that have to work ten-hour shifts in South Central.

So you can go ahead and curse law enforcement all you want.  I don’t mind.  But what are you going to do when you honk at someone at a red light and they come at you with a tire iron?  Unless you’re LL Cool J you’re probably going to cross your fingers and hope a cop car comes out of nowhere and blasts the dude with a taser until he pisses himself.  I know that’s what I do.

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