Thursday, December 12, 2002

A funny thing happened on the way to the Peter Gabriel concert.

I was driving around downtown Los Angeles with my accomplice Diana, trying to navigate the confusing maze of one-way streets that never head in the right direction. I came within one block of Staples Center when a cop pulls up behind me. He plays his little siren and flashes all sorts of red and blue lights on my car, just to make sure that the 30,000 people heading to the concert can all see that they've captured a hardened criminal.

I was stuck at a light in the left-hand turn lane. So was I supposed to abort the turn and just pull over to the right? I started to do that, but then realized I'd have to cross 2 or 3 lanes of traffic. Probably not the safest thing to do. I had my left blinker on, then my right, then my left. I'm not sure what to do. But somehow I want to let the cop know that "yes, I see you, I know you want me to pull over but that just isn't convenient for me at the moment. Let me get back to you." I just sat there waiting for the light to turn green. And waited. And waited. Time never moves more slowly than when you're trying to figure out why you're about to be busted by a cop.

I finally managed to make the turn and pull over. This kid comes up to my window and askes for my license and registration. I say "kid" because I'm sure he's 10 years younger than me. Punk. I gave him my license but couldn't find the registration. I start going through all the junk in my glove compartment, handing every scrap of paper to Diana. I give her my Cat's last vet bill "Is this the registration?" A brochure for Mexican insurance. "Is this it?" In my mind, I am quite proud of myself for acting so calmly, because I know that the last thing you want to do is look nervous in front of a police officer. Apparently he had a different impression, and tells me "there's no need to be nervous, sir." Ever helpful and supportive, Diana tells the officer, "oh no, you don't him." Thanks a lot.

It seems that the registration stickers on my car have expired. Oh yeah, I remember I was supposed to take care of that. In fact, they expired in May. And I was reminded of this last week when I got a $25 parking ticket for having expired stickers. I need to do something about that. The cop tells me that because the stickers are more than 3 months overdue, he could have my car towed. But he keeps assuring me over and over that he's NOT going to do it, he just COULD. But he WON'T. I think he was trying to be reassuring and calm me down, but why? I'm not nervous. I'm not. What do I have to be nervous about? Nothing. Nope. Not a thing.

I wind up giving him what was probably an expired insurance card and my license and he goes back to his car. He's gone a long time. A LONG time. Never a good sign. As we look around at the $20 parking lots all around us, Diana suggests that "if we let them tow the car, we won't need to worry about parking!" We were meeting friends at the concert, so we easily could have gotten a ride home. We decide not to follow through with that option.

A police officer comes back to my window, but this time it's his partner. A woman, also probably 10 years younger than me. Punkette. She is very pleasant, and I think that he sent her to talk to me because I'm so nervous and she'll have a more soothing effect. But I'm not nervous. I'm not. She starts explaining the ticket she's giving me but to be honest I'm not really paying attention. I just want her to go away. Diana happens to glance out her window and sees the original punk cop with a flashlight trying to search the inside of the car. Probably looking for all the drugs and booze I have stashed back there, which would explain why I was so nervous. Which I wasn't.

Once I realize that I'm probably not going to jail, I figure I might as well take advantage of having a cop handy. I ask her how I can get to the main parking area. She tells me to go down half a block and make a U-turn at the light, then go back 2 blocks. It's kind of a busy street, so I want to confirm that I can in fact make a U-Turn there. She asks her partner "he can make a U-turn, right" "yeah, should be fine." I'm not entirely convinced, and I risk a little humor. I tell her "OK, I'm going to go to that light there and make a U-turn, and you're not going to give me another ticket, right?" "No, you'll be OK." I drove away without incident.

Oh yeah, good concert. More on that later.

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