Saturday, February 05, 2005

4:02 PM// The Stealth Squad

This is another story that is a consequence of growing up in a small town and being friends with Mike.

In high school, my good friend Mike and I would sometimes drive to the least light-polluted place we could find and sit on the hood of one of our cars and watch meteor showers or stars while commenting on life. It's very relaxing and I highly recommend this activity for getting your thoughts out. This story takes place along a rural highway just outside of Oak Ridge. Because this particular highway ran parallel to the bank of a lake, the only connections to the highway were small gravel parking lots where people would park their cars and dump their motor boats into the lake. Officially, these little gravel inlets were city parks that had official closing times after dark. Apparently they were occasionally patrolled by Anderson County Police.

I will take a brief moment to discuss the difference between Oak Ridge City Police and Anderson County Police for those not familiar with the difference. OR cops are the nicest, most helpful people you will ever encounter. They usually speak in complete sentences with appropriate diction. They even have a sense of humor. Anderson County cops are the manifestation of the small hick town, evolutionarily backwards, power-crazed cop stereotype. It's difficult to cut through their thick accents to comprehend what they're grumbling at you. And even if you could, you'd still be left with the task of rearranging word order and swapping verb tenses to decipher this mess of Hicklish being thrown your general direction.

So one night, Mike and I decided to go star gazing and drove down the familiar highway. When we made it to the "park", charitably described as a clearing of trees near a bank, we noticed two cop cars hanging out on one end of the car park. They had pulled up next to each other, but facing opposite directions the way cops do so they can talk to each other while sitting in their cars with the engine running. They had their parking lights on. Remember, Mike and I are specifically looking for an area void of light pollution so as to better watch the night sky. The cops are not exactly in stealth-mode. We decided not to pull up right next to them; instead we drove right past them and parked at the other end of the lot.

As I had been telling a story to Mike as we drove, we didn't immediately hop onto the hood of his car. Instead we remained inside the car while I finished my story. Within a couple of minutes something happened that I hope to never have the pleasure of again. During the 120 seconds we'd been sitting there chatting, one cop had snuck up directly behind us, and the other took up a position perpendicular, so that he was facing the driver's side door. I should mention at this point that they were still in their cars. Simultaneously, they turned on their highbeams and search lights and drove at full speed, stopping a few feet from the trunk and driver's side door. Damn! How did they get there? I guess they figured we hadn't seen them when we had driven right past them two minutes ago, what with their cloaking device and all. I mean, I know cops think criminals are stupid, but if we had criminal intent, why would we park 10 feet from two cop cars with their parking lights on? How stupid did they think we were?

They approached our car with caution, adjusting their belts nestled about their soggy midsections. One cop grumbled something that I translated as "whatju buoys up to dis evenin'?" Mike replied, "oh, nothing. Just pulled in to have a chat." They cop came back with "big mistake. Park's closed suun." It was hard not to laugh. What did the cops think they had here? These two cops were given the momentous task of guarding a gravel lot with a five car capacity in the middle of nowhere, and they needed to flex their authority a bit with a coordinated pouncing? Meanwhile the other cop was looking suspiciously around the exterior of the car. Looking for gunports? I can only guess.

After a few inaudible growls, he reassured us that we were "free to go". We promptly left. Now there is a shining example of America's police force who so richly deserved their donuts that night.


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