HADN'T GOTTEN HIS MORNING COFFEE?
This long-winded LEO contact story is from somewhere around 1981 (over a decade before CHL), and not
exactly an example of a normal or well handled stop. I'm posting it anyway as 1) it worked out fine for
me, and 2) I STILL laugh about it thirty+ years later.
During the late 70's/early 80's my transportation was a 1976 Honda XL-350 (dual purpose motorcycle). At
the time I worked just north of downtown. The layout was that north/south streets ran unimpeded except
for a stop sign or traffic light at an east/west artery every half mile or so. The last part of my
commute was running north up a four lane street, hanging a right and going east for three and a half
residential blocks and then into a walled patio on the south side of the building (the official
motorcycle parking lot for staff) through an iron gate off the sidewalk. The last residential street I
crossed before getting to the patio was unusual for two reasons.
1) That north/south street had the main p.d. building nine blocks north, and city hall three blocks
south, of where I crossed. So you'd see a lot of p.d. vehicles around shift change, and during shifts a
certain amount of p.d. traffic running between city hall and the station.
2) All the east/west non-arteries had stop signs, EXCEPT that one intersection. If you were westbound,
you had a stop sign. If you were eastbound (like me every morning) you had a yield sign. (My initial
reaction had been 'what the heck?', but after three years at that location, I no longer gave it a thought)
The house on the northwest corner of the intersection is set way back from the street, and all the
landscaping plants are close to the house on the north side of the lot. So traveling east, you can see
all the southbound traffic coming on your left several blocks up well before you get to the intersection
(where you have that one unique yield sign).
So this particular weekday morning, around 7:40am I hang my usual right turn off the 4-lane, do a full,
left-foot down stop at the first two cross streets and approach the last cross street. I look left as
soon as my line of sight clears the corner of the house on the left and two blocks up there's this Buick
sedan traveling south at about 10 mph with a little old man at the wheel (which he's looking THROUGH by
the way) with one of those big squarish late 70's Chevy Caprice patrol units tailgating him at about what
looks like six feet (there's a grass median with 70 year old palm trees, so there's no way for the Chevy to
pass the Buick). I look right and there's zero traffic that way, head swivel back left and the parade
is STILL a block and a half away. "Grampa is about to get a ticket" passes through my mind as I squirt
through the intersection, then angle into the mouth of the alley and hop the curb up onto the sidewalk,
body english the turn through the patio gate, and park. I take my time as I take off my helmet, unzip my
jacket, un-bungee my backpack from the rear portion of the seat. As I turn my back on the gate to head into
the service door with my pack in one hand and helmet in the other I hear stomping on the sidewalk. Since
neighborhood kids use that street to get to a couple of nearby schools I don't think anything of it until the
stomping STOPS and a irritated voice says "HEY! YOU RAN THAT STOP SIGN!".
I half turn and look over my shoulder and there's a McAllen P.D. Patrol Officer standing about two steps
inside the gate. He's my height (5'6" - SHORT), has a 70's porn star mustache, and a haircut that would
be considered long today, but was comparatively short at the time. He looks some combination of sleep
deprived/under-caffeinated/irritated-off. He's wearing a traffic shirt but he's got on Motor Officer pants
and knee length riding boots. OK, so I know where part of the 'stomping' footsteps came from. For the
rest of it, the following runs through my mind;
- it's 7:40am and I'm not a morning person either so I get it.
- he's either coming off graveyard shift, or he's just going on shift and hasn't had his coffee.
- I knew a certain number of the PD Motor Officers from training events and poker runs, and this wasn't
anyone I'd seen before.
- for a Motor to be piloting a cage was bad news. It meant that 1) his bike was in the shop [accident?],
or 2) he was on light duty [accident?], or 3) he'd annoyed his CO and was being punished with menial
four-wheeled errands like shuttling paperwork between the PD and city hall.
It wasn't until at least a decade later that it occurred to me that the situation looked like a scene and
a character taken from a Joseph Wambaugh book or movie like 'The Choirboys' or 'The Black Marble'.
Since _I_ had had my caffeine that morning, I processed all the above, plus the thought "he probably
assumed I hopped the curb and ducked in here to evade". While remaining motionless with both hands
fully occupied with all my gear, I mildly replied "Sir, if you take two steps back (out of the walled patio
onto the sidewalk) and look at the back of that stop sign, you will see that it's triangular in shape". He
LOOKS at me for about a second, then 'stomp, stomp, half-turn'. Then he mutters something that I couldn't
hear but sounded like an expletive. Then, head down, he stomps out of sight back toward where he presumably
left the Chevy in the alley. I shrug, and head in to work.
About four months later, a city crew shows up and replaces the yield sign with a stop sign. Coincidence?
I THINK NOT!
Most CHL/LEO contacts are positive, how about yours? Bloopers are fun, but no names please, if it will cause a LEO problems!
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