It's eleven-thirty and we're out on the scooter*, me and my friend Kit
, going about 25 on Rio Grande, going under the freeway
, headed home and to bed. It's one of those gorgeous early summer nights where it's not quite warm out but it's not chilly enough to wear gloves on the bike; the moon's thin but big, low in the sky. There are few enough people out that we're not getting harassed by cars. Kit's keeping me warm, hugging me around my BoingBoing hoodie, and we're laughing, amused with ourselves and the night and comic books and life, not really wanting to go home, but it's getting late and I have work the next day and he's got papers to write, so we're headed back.
It's a little weird when the motorcyclist pulls up beside us, but a lot of motorcycles come up next to me at lights and talk to me, and I'm one of those people who rarely expects confrontations, especially on a night like this.
And then he talks. "Why're you so wobbly?" It's a cop, I realize, with a car behind him, and I laugh.
"He keeps moving!" I say, grinning, and it's true, he keeps moving from leaning over my right shoulder to my left and back again. Then I see his expression. "D'you want me to pull over?"
He does, and I do, pulling into the bike lane (which I was not riding in when this happened). I ask Kit to get me ID-- my girly pinstripe pants** don't have pockets big enough to hold more than chapstick***, so he keeps my stuff for me so he can put his hands in my hoodie pockets to keep them warm.
He asks for my ID and I fish it out of my wallet and hand it to him. He tells me that I'm not riding the bike like a scooter, that I need registration and insurance to be going on the streets over 30. I tell him I wasn't going 30 and he switches modes, telling me that I was obstructing traffic. I'm not exactly sure how I'm obstructing traffic-- Rio Grande was 2 lanes at this point and there were hardly any cars out and about-- but I tell him I'll take side roads on the way back if he wants. The general message we're getting by this point is to either get in a car or get off the road which, while somewhat contradictory with the city's official message
, is pretty much par for the course of what I get from most thugs in bigger vehicles than me. He gets a little confused when I tell him that we're headed from Campbell Road
back to the University area. (He also asked whose bike it was. Apparently guys riding bitch confuses cops.
"Can I go?" I ask, and he says that I can. Kit waves and shouts a cheerful goodbye-- a total contrast with my own suddenly foul mood-- at the officer and we get onto Central.
I'm ranting about The Man by this point, feeling marginalized. I just read Little Brother
and so I'm already a little freaked out about living in an increasing complacent police state. Needless to say, I'm pissed. So of course up next to me and tells me that "this doesn't look like a sidestreet".
And then he tells me that if he sees me again he'll tow the bike
. I turn right (as he told me to) on the first street I can and end up sort of lost in the neighborhood with all the numbered streets south of Central in the limbo between Old Town and Downtown. I have an "oh shit" moment when I realize that I didn't get his badge number and we take Zuni back home.
My apartment was robbed a couple of months ago and while the cops were nice enough then, they didn't get me my stuff back. I wish I wasn't afraid of the people who were supposed to be protecting me. I'm going to head back to my apartment now. I think I'll take Central anyway.
*whose name is Remus
**which are totally awesome
***my biggest vice