Monday, July 4, 2016

Curbside Anecdotal: The Officer & The Cyclist

New York, June 27--The blue-eyed metropolitan 
beat officer, perhaps of Irish descent, leaned 
against the hood of his patrol car. He watched 
as I locked up my bike outside MacDonald's on 
Eighth Avenue midblock between 34th and 35th. 
Went through the motions, that is, threading 
the cable between the spokes and around the bus stop, hesitating for a second.
I thought he was going to tell me that locking 
my bike to the bus stop wasn't allowed or, as many strangers do, ask me if anything was wrong,
b/c I tend to move unhurriedly compared to normal pedestrian traffic. But he did neither and 
just said "Hi".
On the Fifth Avenue Pride march that I filmed on Sunday, mostly the cops had been good-humored and cordial, even stepping aside to get out of the frame. It's 47 years
 since Stonewall, and quite a large NYPD contingent marched, so this bonhomie, rather than brusqueness 
or wolf-in-sheep's clothing-iness, may have been a 
carry-over from the Pride spirit. Whatever the reason, being of a naturally curious disposition, I struck up a desultory conversation, not unsuited to a hot summer afternoon.
First, I asked the policeman whether an NYPD vehicle 
was always parked in front of this MacDonald's.
"Always," he confirmed. "There's a lot of crime here."
"Dealing?" I suggested.
"Not only," he said with a wry smile.
"Stuff I'd rather not hear about, I suppose," 
I said, not  wanting to get too specific.
"All kinds," said the officer. "The other day there
 was a stabbing."
I asked him how long he'd been there without shade. 
Eight and a half hours, he answered, hugging his 
bottle of Poland Spring. Usually, but not today, 
he brought a sandwich from home. He considered a
ll the food at MacDonald's inedible.
"Even the salads?" I ventured.
"Absolutely. The salads too."
"What about the yogurt parfait?"
"The yogurt parfait is okay."
By this time the cable was securely fastened. 
To stabilize the bike, I gave the kickstand a 
sharp little kick to release it. I decided to 
take a chance and spring for a Macyogurt 
before undertaking the long ride home. 
(The elevator was being repaired at the 
34th Street subway.)
With my yogurt I perched on a stool at a 
high counter, joining three young dark-haired 
tourists, a woman and two men, speaking a 
not easily recognizable foreign language. 
But my trip to Istanbul was only five years
past, so to my table companions’ amazement,
I correctly identified it as Turkish.
I hope they got home safely.
(c) Liza Béar 2016