Monday, January 26, 2009

Social Tip #10 - Cops

I do not like cops.

It isn’t just the cops, it is the whole system. I hate that I am obliged to live by a set of rules that were created before I had a chance to agree to them. It is not just an imposition to me, but an offense, that cops exist to blindly enforce those rules, and my only choice is to follow along or endure punishment. Yes, I know I have the right to change the rules, but I must first learn what all of them are, wait until I am old enough to be considered relevant in the political arena, and then spend the rest of my life pursuing those changes when I should have been able to live a more natural course.

Society was built to disrupt my natural course, and cops ensure the disruption.

Last night I took the subway. On the platform I saw what looked like a security guard booth. I looked inside and there was a full-on cop in uniform, leaning in a chair with his head back, his mouth wide open, completely asleep. He sat in front of a TV making fuzz noises. It was beautiful, I could have done anything I wanted to him. And rare to have such an advantage. It was like seeing my boss leave a Planned Parenthood in a wheelchair.

I looked around, but no one else was there to witness this. As quietly as I could, so as not to wake the beast, I whipped out my camera phone and took some pictures, but I was too far away and they turned out terrible. I decided to go for it and got much closer to the glass. This was one of those defining moments in my life where I felt like I had to do what must be done and damn the consequences. Taking a photo of a cop sleeping on duty felt not only warranted, but responsible. Not that I care if anyone is a hard worker or not. I could give a shit, I am all about minding my own business. But this uniform thought he had the right to tell me what I could and couldn't do. If I fell asleep on the subway, this guy would arrest me or at least harass me, and here he is, asleep and getting paid for it. If I was going to be forced to live in a hypocritical society, I was going to take fucking pictures.

I marched right in front of the glass and was so determined to frame the shot correctly that I didn't notice he had woken up.

Cop: Hey!

Fuck. The cop busted me busting him. I quickly tried to save the last photo and put my phone in my purse.

Cop: You can't do that! Come here! You can't take pictures of me!

I wondered if that was true. Was it illegal to take a picture of a cop, or a sleeping person? Or maybe it's only illegal if it's both at the same time. I walked around to the side of his booth and stared into his ham-head meatface.

Cop: Did you take any pictures?

Now, if I was any kind of a smart person, I would have responded with something like, "I wasn't taking pictures… I was looking for a number on my phone," or some other lie, but at the time it seemed like if I admitted to a little bit of it, the rest of my story would seem more convincing. Plus, fuck him.

Me: No, but I was trying to.

Cop: Why were you trying to take pictures of me?

I gave him my most honest answer. I think we both knew the truth.

Me: Because it was funny.

I don't know what possesses me to talk to cops like that, but it is always the same, even though my last encounter ended up in my arrest. I got caught smoking a joint with my friend on Bowery, and was so amused and unthreatened by the experience that I asked the squad car driver if he would stop at Yaffa Café on the way to the precinct because I had the munchies. I think he would have been into it if he didn't have a quota to fill.
Cop: Well, I don't think it's funny. You think it would be funny if that photo got into the newspaper and I had to tell my wife that I got fired?

I resisted the urge to tell him that he really should have been more careful about behaving like a hypocrite. Why should I care about his problems? If the tables were turned, if he had caught me doing something wrong and I told him my life could be ruined, would that deter him from arresting me? Hell to the no. Uniforms don't ever consider personal matters where the law is involved. If anything, this was karma at play.

Of course, I would never publish the photos just to get this guy into trouble. He hadn't done anything to harm me, and I'm against all kinds of punishment in general. I was only in it for my own amusement. I said as much.

Me: I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't expose you.

Cop: Then let me look at your phone.

Me: Fine.

Wait. That couldn't happen. I wanted to keep those motherfucking pictures.

Me: I don't have pictures of you and I don't want you looking through my phone. You don't have a right to do that.
Cop: But you just said I could.
Me: Well now you can't.

The cop and I had a stare-down. He was in the unenviable position of being subjected to civilian status. He was the only one who had broken any laws.

Cop: Okay, I'll trust that you don't have a picture. I mean, I know I shouldn't be sleeping, but I've been working for hours down here.

No way! He actually admitted culpability. And he trusted me. Once vindicated, I felt bad for him and offered some distracting empathy.

Me: It must be hard to be stuck in here.
Cop: Yeah, its rough. I've been working for hours and look at what I do all night.

He beckoned all the way inside his cage where I see that the tiny TV screen shows a footage from a camera focused on the train tracks.

Cop: I watch this all night. Its so boring.
Me: Why are you watching on camera, isn't that the track right behind you?
Cop: Yeah, basically.

The way he said this made me think that it hadn't occurred to him before. What must it be like to never question anything? It probably feels the same and being stuck in a cage and facing the wrong direction.

Cop: Yeah, well. Where you coming from? You look nice, coming from a party?
Me: Oh yeah, I guess, hours ago.
Cop: Oh, out bar hopping?
Me: No, I was writing with a friend of mine.
Cop: Oh, you're a writer?

Shit, now he was going to think I would write about this experience and try to take my camera again.

Cop: Cool. Where can I read your stuff?
What an idiot.


Knute123 said...

Yeah...why can't you take pictures of him? FTN.

Levon said...

I agree entirely. You have to wonder, at what point is a cop doing it just for the money versus alleviating some repressed vendetta against bullies from his childhood. I've met a few nice ones, but 80 times as many fuckwads. Who knows.

Myka Fox said...

When I was talking to him he said that he used to be an actor before he joined the force. I tried to get him to admit that he haad given up on his life and dreams but he insisted he had a family history of policemen and was bound to end up their anyway.