Wednesday, January 19, 2011


So I took the 4:20 p.m. Metrolink Train out of Union Station, tonight, and three LAPD Bicycle cops got on with me. They parked all three bicycles against a rack designed for two. Sure enough, the third bike fell over sideways while the train was rolling down the tracks, and I instinctively tried to catch it, pulling my wrist backwards the wrong direction (the pain went away after ten minutes, and no, I’m not suing LAPD). Two hippies got on at El Monte, and things went downhill from there.

First, an explanation of how things work on the train: The Metrolink trains ride all over southern California, and they (Metrolink) have a big, fat juicy contract with the L.A. Sheriff’s Department to provide security on the trains. I discuss this at length in my novel Amateur Hour. I think the LA County Sheriffs even go into Orange and San Bernardino Counties as part of their train duties. Somebody let me know if I’m wrong. Tonight’s incident happened entirely in L.A. County. That said, there are a lot of cops who commute to work on Metrolink trains, and guess what? If you wear your police uniform, and carry your gun, you get to ride for free! That’s right: the numbnut with a gun who gets on in Claremont with me in the morning, and gets off in Claremont with me at night doesn’t pay the $246 a month that I pay, because he’s a cop. Among said lovely freeloaders are LAPD cops, County Sheriffs who have nothing to do with Metrolink (they work as bailiffs in the courts, or at the Twin Towers [très Tolkienesque] jail in downtown LA), and even campus police from USC, UCLA, and Cal State LA. If I wore scrubs and my i.d. that showed I work in a hospital (okay, two hospitals, so that would be 2 i.d. badges), would I get to ride for free? No? Why not? Isn’t working in an ER an important function that makes society safe and predictable?

But I digress.

So, what happened was the two idiot hippies got on the train at El Monte, and Idiot Hippie One had a vaguely pit bull mix dog on a tattered leash, while Idiot Hippie Two had a big fat adult tabby cat draped around his neck. The train was crowded with commuters going home from work in downtown LA, so Dumb and Dumber couldn't find a place to park their pot-smoking, unemployed, unwashed asses. The LAPD bicycle cops saw them, but didn’t bother, because (a) the train is not their jurisdiction, and (b) they were off-duty, on the way home, so dealing with people violating Metrolink’s pet policy would have been a complete waste of time. Enough said. Dumb and Dumber eventually disappeared upstairs, but a few stops later, in Covina, they came marching back down stairs, and stood at the door, ready to get off the train. I glanced at them, and marveled at the fact that they got on and off the train with an unmuzzled dog and an uncaged cat without inicident.

Well, they almost made it off the train. Dumb looked to his left, and said to someone unknown and unseen to those of us on the train car’s first floor, “Bro, we’re already getting off the train. You don’t need to talk to me like that.”

I realized that there was a sheriff’s deputy standing on a stair above Dumb and Dumber.

By the way, people call them ‘sheriffs’ but there is only one sheriff in any county. In the modern world sheriff is just a different title for the chief of a county-wide police department that calls itself a sheriff’s department, instead of calling itself the county police department.

So here’s the part where thanks to my fully functioning frontal lobe, I didn’t wind up in jail, tonight: Dumb and Dumber were already getting off the train, because Deputy Dog was kicking their asses off, for violating da rules. The sheriff’s deputy had “won”. There is no other verb to use because, unfortunately, confrontations between most police officers and civilians are always a “battle” that the cop “has” to win. That’s how they see the world. It’s that siege mentality that modern police chiefs (including LeRoy Baca, the LA County Sheriff). The problem with this “I have to win every battle” mentality is that it leaves no room for compromise, thinking, or long-term solutions. Oh, yeah, and it makes people hate the cops. So, like I said, the deputy had accomplished his goal: the two hippies were peacefully, quietly obeying his order to get off the train. I didn’t hear what he said to the kid, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t care. Let me emphasize: I don’t fucking care. I don’t care because whatever the deputy said to the kid clearly took someone who has already been humiliated in public, and took him one step further, where he felt the need to mouth off to a cop.

Still, Deputy Dog had things under control, but no…Little Miss LAPD Bicycle Cop had to stick her big fat nose into the situation—a situation (battle)—that was already resolved. She jumped up from her seat, ran up to the hippie, and ripped into him for mouthing off to the deputy. She was loud, aggressive, and in his face. The hippie was a dumb kid; he wasn’t some gang member with tattoos and big arm muscles. He was a docile idiot who was already compliant. Her behavior was totally uncalled for because (a) Deputy Dog didn’t need her help, he had it under control, and (b) she was being an asshole about it. Had she said something like, “Deputy, do you need our assistance?” or some other words that would have let the two hippies know that they were surrounded, I wouldn’t be writing this. Again: the deputy never needed her help in the first place. But, on top of that, her choice of words and behavior were unprofessional.

     I got pissed. Seriously, the ACLU dues-paying part of my heart was enraged. I was sitting there, with one leg crossed over the other, wearing reading glasses, with The Fellowship of the Ring in my hands, and this angry female cop was being a complete asshole. It really took a lot of restraint on my part to not rip into her for being an unprofessional shithead. I knew while I was sitting there that if I opened my mouth, she would do that bullshit thing that cops do: threaten to arrest me. So now I was double pissed, because the reason I kept quiet was that my wife and two kids were expecting me to get home from work, and the last thing my wife expects is to get a phone call from me in jail.

The train doors opened, and the hippies got off without incident. I fumed in my seat for the next three stops, and stomped off the train in Claremont. As I’m writing this, I’m pissed at the cops. All cops. And this is coming from a guy who is a law & order liberal who is personal friends with cops in three different departments. These cops are guys who I really like, and I don’t see them as being overly macho idiots with badges. They’re smart, and thoughtful. Tonight, though, that doesn’t matter, because I am seriously pissed.

Let me make something very clear: I had no sympathy for those two unwashed hippies until Bicycle Barbie went postal on them.

My parents snuck out of Communist Hungary during the height of the Cold War so that they could live in a free country where people aren’t afraid of the government.

Or the cops.