Monday, September 13, 2004

Argue with a police officer driving across the grass on Dupont Circle

LOCATION: Dupont Circle grass. EQUIPMENT: Inconsiderate cop car, yourself, spirit of revolution. OPTIONAL: Lots of psychological baggage relating to law enforcement. NOTE: This is not really a fun thing to do, but it's very interesting.

I don't like police officers. It's a narrow-minded prejudice that developed out of personal experience.

Partly it's the speeding tickets - the ones I got, along with patronizing lectures; the ones I didn't get, after the officer looked down my shirt.

Partly it's that time I called in to report a woman being beaten up at the corner of 14th and V and nobody showed up for half an hour even though cop cars were driving right past us and then finally when someone came it was already over but they wouldn't give my friend and me a ride home even though we'd just confronted the attacker and a group of his friends were standing around next to a fence, glowering at us.

And partly it's the time I met a homeless man who had been run over by a car (he was walking down the street with massive cuts and bruises all over his body and there were red tire marks on his face and legs) and he told me that he'd been sleeping overnight in the bushes in Rock Creek Park and a police car ran over him and that they stopped, got out, seemed surprised that he was alive, and tried to convince him that he was delusional and that he'd actually been beaten up by someone, and then they drove away and left him there. (I believe him.)

So I have a chip on my shoulder about cops.

I was sitting on a blanket in Dupont Circle one sunny afternoon reading something charming when a cop car drove across the grass in front of me, belching exhaust into my face. I made sympathetic eye contact with a neighboring blanket-reader. Our silent rapport: What uncivilized jerks, and what a shame that we have to put up with it!

But then I realized that I didn't have to put up with it. I was in the right. And I didn't even have any rolling papers in my purse.

I walked over to where the car had stopped on the grass and tapped on the window. "Excuse me" - super sweetly - "I was just wondering why you guys were driving on the grass." The man and woman stared at me as if I was insane and said nothing. Reasonably: "It's just that for people relaxing on the grass, it's very disturbing to have a car driving so close with the noise and the smell. " The male cop said, "We drive on the circle because it's a crime deterrent. It discourages criminals when they see our car here." Me, maple-syrupy: "I guess that makes sense, but I don't think any crimes are going to happen here in the afternoon with everyone sitting around. I mean, I'm sure it's fun for you guys and all, but -" At this, the female cop exploded. "Fun? Fun? Driving all around on this hot day? Have you ever tried wearing one of these uniforms? They're 100% polyester. Does that sound like fun to you?" Me (fake syrup yielding to grudging sympathy): "Actually, that sounds awful. Well, why don't you please make a report that someone has complained. Thanks...Have a great afternoon!"

Some notes on the incident:

--My plan was to be sweet and reasonable, supposedly so that the cops would not dismiss my words, and instead engage with me and be nudged into some spiritual growth, for their own good. But that was bullshit. Unconsciously I wanted to be smarmy because I knew that would be the best way to piss them off. And it did. There's nothing more annoying than negative energy pretending to be positive energy.

--I've never been a revolutionary. My attitude towards authority has historically been disdain; I ignore rules that don't align with my morality. That's very selfish; if your community has rules you disagree with, even if you yourself can get away with ignoring them, you should fight to change them for the sake of others who are not so lucky. Which is why Steve, the founder of www.flexyourrights.org, is a much better person than I am.

--Despite my fleeting flirtation with the role, I never will be a revolutionary, at least not in the stone-throwing way. I wasn't able to sustain indignant ardor for more than a second when confronted with a human face. Those cops might have been jerks, but they were unhappy jerks who were driving around feeling bitter about their lousy jobs and their uncomfortable uniforms and the self-righteous bitches who tried to make them feel guilty about doing their lousy jobs. How can you be angry at an unhappy person?

--But I still don't like police officers.

3 Comments:

Blogger SCS said...

The tragedy of humanity is not the desire to rule but instead the urge to obey. On behalf of those who read in DuPont, many thanks.

9:01 PM  
Blogger BLANCHE said...

Nice blog. Have you seen your google rating? BlogFlux It's Free and you can add a Little Script to your site that will tell everyone your ranking. I think yours was a 3. I guess you'll have to check it out.

Computer News
China's Google rockets on debut
It was a remarkable debut. Chinese search engine Baidu.com's shares sold in the United States for US$27 ($39) - then surged on day one to close at US$122.54 ($177.46).

Friday's result was the biggest first-day gain for a new listing in the US for five years.

Investors had more than quadrupled their money.

An analyst in New York with IPOdesktop.com, a website devoted to initial public offerings, John Fitzgibbon, said: "This one is the return to the internet bubble. Last time we saw a deal skyrocket was during the frothy IPO markets of 1999 and 2000."

Then came the post-mortem.

Some analysts said the internet search engine could have had an even better payday for itself if underwriters had sold the deal at a higher price to begin with.

"It looks to me like the underwriters should have had a better indication of the appetite for this stock than they did," said Donald Straszheim, president of Straszheim Global Advisors.

Investors were eager to own a stake in a company that many say could grow as dramatically as Google and is based in a country itself undergoing explosive growth.

But other analysts are not so sure the underwriters made a mistake, given that the company's shares were priced at a relatively high multiple of revenues.

"It wasn't priced out of line with the rest of the market. In a situation like this, you're dealing with the unpredictability of the after market," said Tom Taulli, of Instream Partners in Newport Beach, California.

At issue is the underwriting process. Banks selling shares to the public - in this case Credit Suisse First Boston, Goldman Sachs, and Piper Jaffray - are paid to use quantitative models to determine a fair price for shares, but also to gauge investor demand.

Underwriting has both subjective and objective elements, making definitive evaluation of a bank's performance difficult. In this case, demand for the IPO was evidently outsized, but so were the unknowns for the company.

"We don't know the potential impact of censorship in China, or how quickly the internet will grow there," said David Menlow, president of IPOfinancial.com. Had the IPO been priced higher and then fallen in the first day of trading, investors could have sued.

Baidu.com chairman and chief executive Robin Li, speaking on CNBC, said he was not upset by the potential lost proceeds of the IPO because the company had only sold a small portion of itself, and had significantly more growth ahead.

But University of Florida Professor Jay Ritter, an IPO expert, said Baidu.com left money on the table by introducing the shares at a level well below where they ended hours later.


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4:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help me Dude, I'm lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw Elvis in the supermarket yesterday.

No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasmatv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask Michael Jackson to come round and watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)

8:45 PM  

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