Jan 27, 2005

Having been a scofflaw

for many years now, and having met motorcycle police officers both socially and not-so-socially, I feel it necessary to post that link.

I worked at the local Honda dealership for years, and in that position I got to meet and talk to not only the local PD's motorcycle Master Officer (a very dour, lanky Irishman) but a lot of the guys who ride for the APD, and it was always an eye-opening experience. Plus, having two friends I went to school with end up not only police officers but motorcycle officers gave me a unique perspective into the world of the bike cop.

It was with great interest I read the article I linked to above, and found out that a lot of what these guys are saying was already told me by my little-town officers, too. It's a hard job, thankless, and as a nice benefit, bike cops KNOW what you're up against as a civillian motorcyclist and take that into account when they catch you splitting lanes, riding on sidewalks, or otherwise being a horse's ass.

*knock wood* I haven't been pulled over for an infraction in years, and sadly enough the last ticket I got was two years ago for speeding in Oregon on vacation, driving a rented Cadillac CTS, so that doesn't count, because my last ticket before that was 1994, and for THAT I am deeply proud of myself, seeing as I used to score about one every six months. I have had more than a few interactions with bike cops, tho, and they've always been understanding and more than willing to talk it out with me and let me go with a warning, I mostly think they do this because they know I'm not a squid nor 18, and that I have a fair respect of traffic and the abounding stupidity of the average motorist.

I have to relate this--one of APD's motorcycle officers whom I went to school with, let's call him "J," always comes in the store for pens, paper pads, all the little things that officers have to supply themselves with. Now, J is a big boy, and when I say "big" I ain't just whistling past the graveyard. J stands about my height, 6'2 or so, but he's about twice as wide, probably pushing 350 or so, and what's so damned sad is that it's not really fat, it's muscle, covered over with the thinnest veneer of fat "to disguise it," he tells me. The APD uniform is dark blue, short sleeved, with those asinine riding boots and cropped pants, so you stuff this giant beefchunk into a uniform, then you cover his bare arms down to his wrists with luridly colourful biomechanical tattoos, pierce his tongue with a railroad spike, shave his head (which is, linebacker-style, all one piece with his neck) and put thick stretchers in his earlobes, and you've got a cop that is one seriously disturbing sight. Funny thing is, he's as gentle as a lamb, but I won't say that in front of him, that's for sure. He'd tear my head off and piss down my neck hole.

So anyhoo, whenever I see him he offers to trade bikes for the day, and I always toss him my keys (he can ride like a demon,) but then he gets that anguished look in his eye and tells me I can't take his bike out, because I'd play with the lights and the siren. So, I was leaving work one Friday afternoon on the bike and J was out front finishing up a traffic ticket. (As an aside, if you don't know the area let me tell you that the intersection in front of my workplace is one of the three most dangerous intersections in the state.) He was leaning on his bike finishing paperwork, so I rode up and we started chatting about this and that, about the astoundingly bad drivers out there (it was 5 pm, so it was particularly bad, and I had no desire to venture out into it) and he was griping about drivers at this particular intersection, where the favourite sport is to see how many cars you can get through on a red light without getting honked at by opposing motorists, when a huge squealing of tires and that horrible dull "crunch" sounded from the intersection.

J. squared his shoulders, hunkered his head down into his chest, grimaced horribly and through clenched teeth said "Tell me they didn't touch" in his best Commanding Cop Voice.

I looked up and said "Sorry man, I can see it from here. They hit."

"TELL ME THEY DIDN'T TOUCH."

*rolling bike backwards gently* "Sorry man, they hit."

"TELL ME..."He opened his eyes, slipped on his silver and orange Oakleys and let loose with the second most impressive torrent of explicatives I have ever heard come from any mouth (the first being my grandfather-in-law, who is one profoundly talented curser.) He cursed long and proudly, and in seven minutes of verbal diatribe he never once repeated himself. After it was all done I humbly prostrated myself in front of his Police Special, and he walked up to the intersection to dispense some more tickets.

Utterly nuts. And I admire them all for it. That includes Darrell, who was leading a funeral procession and got broadsided (and retired on medical disability) by a greyhair who "didn't see him" on his blue and white Kawasaki Police KZ-1100 with flashing blue, red and white lights, and Allen, who once almost caused me to wreck during a very high-speed tour around the traffic circle by blipping his horn and lights at me from way inside the median where I couldn't see him.

Godspeed them all.

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