I have eight minutes to traverse the final five blocks to Cycle House for my morning dose of endorphins. Speedwalking like a gumptious grandma, I hit San Vicente & Melrose in less than sixty seconds. The north-south traffic signals simultaneously switch to walk. How delightfully efficient! Living a pedestrian life in LA is so great. Seriously underrated.
I perkily bounce across the street, pausing at the corner to check for cars before high-tailing it eastward. Left. Right. Left again. Not a single vehicle in sight. This will save me at least 23 seconds! Does life get any better?
The feeling of liberation that comes with crossing a major intersection on foot and at will is pretty much unmatchable. Rebel Yell, what? I'm basically living the dream when I get to the center divide. A quick hop up on the pavement to take a gander at my north and souths, again seeing nobod-.
F F F F F.
Mid-scan, I lock eyes with an incoming, westbound motorcyclist. Specifically, an incoming, westbound police motorcyclist. My feet stop awkwardly in their tracks, the right one dangling pathetically from the curb. My eyes shift guiltily. Please keep going, Mr. Policeman. Please keep going. Mr. Policeman stays right where he is. All feelings resembling liberation are immediately vanquished.
Please don't be an a$$hole.
When the light turns to walk, I shuffle quickly in his direction, hoping and praying he will leave me be.
He won't. He turns on his lights and "pulls me over". This might just be the lamest moment of both of our lives.
The well-trained citizen in me immediately apologizes for existing.
LAPD: "I know you're sorry. You're sorry because you saw me."
I mean...obviously. Why else would I apologize for safely navigating an empty roadway? We can all acknowledge the ridiculousness of this situation, yes?
LAPD: I'm going to need to see some identification.
I don't have any on me, as I'm walking to a class I've already paid for. And because this isn't Nazi Germany.
Or is it.
LAPD: If you don't have any ID, I'm going to have to look you up in my computer. You'd better hope you're in my computer, or there's going to be trouble.
Ok, Gestapo. Toto, I have a feeling we're not in America anymore.
He easily locates my identity and begins to write out a ticket, ignoring my earnest entreaties.
LAPD: [smirking] Are you on the phone with someone, or are you talking to me?
At one point, he asks me to confirm my address. I unconsciously step in his direction as I reply.
LAPD: [aggressively] Step away. Get back over there.
Ho-kay, Sir. Ho-kay.
Paperwork complete, he dishes up a little wisdom alongside his notice to appear.
LAPD: And pedestrians wonder why they get hit. You know, you're crossing high-traffic intersections like this - what do you expect?
I look out at the still vacant roadway. He's joking, right? I look back into his eyes - he's not joking. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills. He stands there, maddeningly imperious.
Me: I've never wondered that because I've never been hit. I'm perfectly capable of figuring out when it's safe to cross a street. Probably because I watched this very influential film in kindergarten that taught me how to look left, right, and left again.
...he started it.
LAPD: You'd better watch what you say.
I'd better watch what I say? What does that even mean? Also, aggressive much? Let's all take a moment and remember why we're standing on this corner. Let's also maybe remember which one of us it was who set the smart a$$ tone for this conversation. Just trying to speak your language over here! But please - continue on your power trip while I check myself into submission like the stand-up civilian that I am.
When he finishes his farcical lecture, I turn to make my fuming exit, cursing the inanity of this city's cop culture while shoving my earbuds back in place. Aptly playing on Spotify: Spoon's New York Kiss:
I come fast, I look past
And I know that it won't get to me at all until I go there
It really hits me clear and sharp
The streets are empty, there's no one around,
It's a far off shout! It's a far off shout!
Very clever, Jesus. New York, I'm comin' for you and your pedestrian-friendly ways.
Three minutes and three blocks later, a bunch of LAPD's cronies creep on me from their table at Urth. Awesome. When they're not implacably asserting their dominance, they're making your skin crawl via overt up-and-downs. Is this our police department or one of American University's secret fraternities?
I might need an extra shot of endorphins today.