I jaywalked right in front of a cop.
As I was stepping up to the light, I saw the Crown Vic from the corner of my right eye. The cruiser slowly pulled to the middle of the empty block. Very empty in that the restaurant that used to anchor that space and eight or ten houses around that block were cleared away four years ago. The holding-out-for-more-compensation owners of 5 row houses on the east side of the block have been dooming the planned mixed-use development. That’s a different story. I’ll write that another time. But there is a big empty space.
MPD rolled up next to the tall metal construction fence sprouting from cement blocks. The fence ringed the big empty space now taken back by vines and weeds pushing through old foundations, around the trunks of once mighty trees and snaking through what had been an alley. It could use a mowing.
I watched as he pulled to the curb and parked. I realized he was active. But as I stood there on the corner watching 23 seconds counting down to my permission to cross and with no cars coming over the hill from the West and zero traffic approaching from the East, I lost any patience or law-abiding self-restraint. (The Spouse would have heartily disapproved.)
A car passed, the street was clear. I looked both ways. I started to cross. I was feeling a little cheeky since Johnny Blue was just a glance from that intersection. When I was halfway across the street, he slowly moved from his perch. I kept my eyes straight ahead and likely stood a little taller. I didn’t pick up my pace, too much. I thought that he was going to screech his siren and censure me. If I made eye contact, he’d for sure bust me.
He wasn’t coming for me, though. He had likely been sitting there to check a text before driving around the block to check out the local reform school.
I stepped on the curb, and the police drove by. I didn’t look back. I had purposely flaunted the law, in front of an enforcer of the law. Somehow, in that minute, it seemed stupider to stand and wait 23 seconds than to tick off a cop. I contemplate that as I walk the next block. Is it okay to break that pedestrian law? I already made an excuse for myself, but wanted some absolution.
I criss-crossed from one corner to the next, and a hybrid SUV revved up behind me. It speeded to the stop sign with the radio blasting. As it slowed and rolled through the intersection I recognized the strains of The Who.
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
I recognized the ghost of my youth granting me amnesty and egging me on. Privilege checked.