It’s easy to get a picture when they hover over your house
Were I to write an essay entitled “How I Spent My June Hiatus,” I would definitely have to put “Didn’t Get Killed In My Own Home” on the checklist.
“But,” you ask, “couldn’t most people who were able to write the essay also be able to say that?”
That’s true, but the difference here is that, yesterday, I had such a wonderful opportunity to be killed and I missed it.
I have been working on a router table in the garage for a few days, a very noisy pastime, and when I shut the machine down at around 11:30, I noticed that there was a helicopter circling overhead. And by overhead, I mean just overhead, while a half-dozen American-made cars raced around the block.
Being a Los Angelino these ten or more years, I decided to get my camera.
I shot some great video in HD – I’ve been looking for a shot of a helicopter to use in a graphic for work – and after about ten minutes, I realized I probably didn’t have to run to get it. The helicopter kept circling, and now there were squad cars blocking off all the streets. The helicopter began to announced that the police had the block surrounded and that, if I had any weapons, I should probably put them down.
I went inside. Locked the doors.
I was finding it hard to concentrate on the television with that chopper mercilessly beating the air overhead, making loose change dance across the counter and the screws start to work their way out of the hinges. So I went upstairs and peeked out the window at the cops on the corner: there were now about twenty, and every time one of them spoke into his or her walkie-talkie, you could hear it on everyone else’s, feeding back like the warmup guy at an outdoor concert.
Things seemed under control, and I couldn’t find anything on the radio or TV news about it, so I thought I’d pop out there and get the story.
I walked out of my front gate, and everybody put their hands on their pistol butts, squared their shoulders, and pointed their chins at me. When the closest guy, who was just a few feet from the gate, gave me a suspicious and surprisingly tenor “what can I do for you?” – from where I stood, “shoot me” was the only answer they could have acted on with any kind of speed.
“I live here,” I said, “just want to know what’s up.”
“Two suspects, both male, African-American, probably shirtless, fled through your next door neighbor’s driveway to the rear of his residence,” he replied, very fast. I thought, at that level of excitement, it showed great obedience to his training that he chose “African-American” over “black,” but who wants a lawsuit, I guess.
“Am I in any danger?” I asked (meaning from the suspects, not the fifteen young men and women with unsnapped holsters).
“Go back into your house. Lock the doors and windows. If you see someone, do not attempt to alert the officers outside. Call 911 and report a prowler.”
You mean, after they put me on “hold.”
And so, with my trusty Louisville Slugger Junior Tee Ball Edition baseball bat in one hand, my house phone in the other and led by my stalwart miniature poodle, I checked out every nook and cranny of the house. I didn’t find any criminals, but I DID find my Blackberry charger I lost last week.
I ended up sitting on the edge of my bed, watching the cops out the window, listening to their walkie chatter and hoping they’d catch these guys as fast as possible. I must not have been that worried because I fell asleep, and when I woke up, the cops were gone and I didn’t have any bullet holes in me, so far as I could tell.
My neighbor came by and told me the suspects were caught. They had split up, and were hiding two blocks over. I went back into the workshop and started up the routing mill again.
And as I ran some test g-code to the stepper motors, I thought back on my day. I had spoken to a man who put his hand on his gun and asked me what he could do for me. Kind of a mixed message, if you asked me.
But then I thought, now what, that’s perfect. That’s the L.A. cops all over. Swat teams, Emergency Services, dozens of cars laying siege to a quiet neighborhood, ready to shoot the first chubby white guy in an Izod that makes a false move. They should make that their new recruitment poster. Forget the ethnically mixed, friendly faces fresh from the academy in the current poster: give me a nervous 30-year-old on Human Growth Hormone, twenty miles away from his sense of humor with a hand on his gun butt, and the caption, “What can I do for you.
All on a nice, breezy, carefree summertime day.