Miss(ed) Manners

November 12, 2004

Miss(ed) Manners: Busted

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 9:00 pm

Cops suck.

Lines like that require all the qualifiers in one’s arsenal to keep some people from tearing off your head and playing Jenga with your teeth. I know cops are a neccessity. Yes, they make us all safer. True, they instill the rule of law. How about…

I hate New York City cops.

That’s a little more definitive, but I mean it strictly in the way uninformed people mean it when they say they don’t like a certain group of people. I’ve based my general dislike for them on only a handful of actual events. Maybe I should mention that one of my closest friends is a cop, and that gives me the right to hate the entire group.

Growing up as a semi maligned youth, I had varying degrees of interaction with the Town Police, Highway Patrol and County Sheriff. Spend any time arguing with, throwing bottles at or baring your ass cheeks to them and you’ll begin to recognize that each group has their own attitude, demeanor or cuffing method.

Small Town Cops are pretty easy to understand. They’re working and living with the people they grew up around. If you’re from the town, or went to school with one of them, then you’re generally in good shape. Do not approach them if you’ve canoodled with one of their sisters. You’ll find yourself on the rubber end of a cavity search trying to explain what “Miranda Rights” are through a greasey towell gag.

Highway Patrol are generally considered to be the overarching authority of police power outside of New York City. They’ve got sweet cars and the ability and inclination to take away your license. They like letting girls off with warnings.

The County Sheriff’s office is the dark horse of the bunch. They’re the guys who come and bust up your teenage wilderness sock hop and chase you through someone’s backyard shouting things like, “No where to RUN, BOY!” I always considered them to be the better looking, more articulate older brother of the Town Cop.

However, none of these readied me for the ultimate in law enforcement assholery. The New York City Police Department Uniformed Cop, the NYPD, or as I refer to them, “The T.W.A.T. Team.”

For the past several years I’ve worked as an event planner for New York Marathon, and for two consecutive years I’ve come a hair’s width away from being arrested for no other reason than that the beat cop who was working my area of the Marathon was a complete and total sample of scrotum sweat.

Last year was great. I had a forklift full of lunches for VIP runner people that needed to get from one side of the raceway to the other. Anyone who’s wanted to cross the street on the day of the marathon will know that this isn’t an easy task. Long story short, I had fifteen minutes to snake through Central Park, going around 40mph and laying tread across part of the Great Lawn.

Almost instantly we had a member of the Central Park Precinct on our tail in what appeared to be a modded up golf cart. Rally wheels, green paint job and a flashing yellow light. I can only imagine what the ensuing low speed chase must have looked like to a bystander. A forklift carrying a giant plastic container, four people clinging to it for dear life, being pursued by the Miami Vice equivalent of a Walmart scooter.

Dukes of Hazard on mescaline I think is the best description.

Having the cop approach us with his hand on his gun wasn’t that cool, but his attitude was even worse. As he shouted at us to step away from the vehicle, I realized that he wasn’t scared of where we were going or what we were carrying, but rather, he wanted us off the grass.

THE GRASS. For all he knew we could have been streaking towards the Finish Line laden with explosives and all he was scared of was us stunting the growth of New York’s only greenery.

Needless to say, words were exchanged, threats made, by both parties, and after a thorough scolding and a completely unneccessary, “I’ll be watching you (read: the grass),” he let us finish our job.

This year’s incident was no less frustrating. One of our staff members had left a van in a place where it wasn’t supposed to have been, mainly because the night before, he had asked a cop if it would be cool to leave it there. Apparently twelve hours later, it wasn’t.

As I sat waiting for the guy to come and move the van, being sniffed by the bomb dogs and questioned repeatedly, I wasn’t that angry. The Cops were doing their job, keeping the area safe.

But it was when we finally got the van moving that we started to get yelled at. Some tatted up beat cop with long hair and half a cigarette came at us yelling. Have you ever noticed the difference in appearance between the NYPD and the rest of the world’s cops? It’s like we got the security from CBGB’s to enroll in a simultaneous weight lifting and police academy program.

As we were loading up and moving the van this is the discourse we had:

HIM: You’ve got to move this van!

ME: We are moving this van right now.

HIM: NO, you have to move this van right now!

ME: We are moving this van right now!

HIM: No, you don’t understand, this van needs to move right now!

ME: We are moving this van right now, gimme a second to put this one last thing in the van.

HIM: NO, MOVE IT NOW!

ME: You know this wouldn’t have happened if one of your guys hadn’t told us to leave it there in the first pl-

HIM: MOVE IT NOW OR I’LL MOVE IT FOR YOU!

ME: Get out of my face!

Telling a cop to get out of your face is kind like playing genital hide and seek with a pack of flying pirahnas, a bad choice. As I watched him turn red with anger and the van sped off behind me, I realized I was all alone with him.

I’m not sure if telling a cop to go fuck himself is a ticketable offense, but I was so ticked off at the moment that I’d have been willing to take one for the team. The team being me, myself and my injured sense of pride.

Fortunately for me, on that one day out of the year I’m in command of a small army of security personnell who saw the exchange and came in to mediate (read: save my ass).

I can imagine that it’s tough being a New York cop. They’ve got a huge city to deal with, a lot of bad people out there wanting to do bad things to not so bad people. But on the other hand, they’re the thin blue line keeping the forces of anarchy at bay, or so they’d have us believe, don’t you think the rules of polite society ought to apply to them more than anyone?

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