I’ll keep this short, as its late and I want to go to bed. Let me preface by saying that one of my worst regrets is not calling the cops on September 11 2009 when it seemed like a girl was being forcibly confined in her boyfriend’s apartment two floors below mine in my former residence. I investigated the situation; gazing through their basement floor window and hearing the dialogue I gathered that it was a guy and his mother trying to calm down a girlfriend who was drunk and freaking out. It turned out that she was fine; that is to say no detectives came by my place afterwards investigating a murder. However I had trouble afterwards rationalizing in my conscience my reasons for not calling 911.
At the time I found it easy to dismiss the event by saying to myself that she probably got drunk every weekend and they were handling her as per normal. However, her screams as she was being pinned down to the bed bespoke grief that was anything but typical. The real reason that I did not call the cops that night is because I had earlier been busted with my buddies for drinking in public (it was frosh week) and I had spent the remainder of the evening cursing the police force and its penchant for busting innocent people. It was sheer pride alone which prevented me from dialing 911 and ending this nonsense because I felt that it would disprove every negative thing I had said about cops that night. I felt so much shame in the aftermath of that incident for my failure to act that I took it upon myself to be the guy to call 911 instead of the guy who assumes someone else will call.
Up until tonight the only occasions I have had to call the police were a severely drunk driver (swerving is one thing, but this dude was in the wrong lane alternating between 20 km under the limit and 50 km over at night…that said, it was a near deserted country road) and a wounded goose (in this case I only called 911 because I didn’t have the animal control number and I got emergency to patch me through). Tonight however, as I rode my bike home after an evening spent in Toronto, I noticed a girl running from a guy who yelled at her to come back. I kept riding and upon looking back again I saw the two of them grappling and decided to pull a U-turn to investigate. As I rode past them I witnessed them grappling on the ground so I proceeded to stop 20 metres away and call 911 (which conflicted with my “thug life” sensibilities). While describing the affair to the 911 operator, the two of them approached me, each beseeching me to call the police on their behalf. It was a little bit overwhelming but eventually the guy took off and I was left with the girl who wouldn’t tell me her name unless she could talk to her dad. Satisfying all of the dispatcher’s questions I hung up and let the girl call her dad on my phone whilst we waited for John Q. Law.
During this wait I reflected on the irony of my being put in a position to have to call 911 on this night in particular: While in Toronto I had met with my friend Shane for drinks. He is a cop and while he is what I would call a “good cop” I am pretty pre-disposed against the policing institution in general. We typically don’t debate it, but this night we did, and though we departed amicably, it was on something of a sour note. So imagine my surprise when I was faced with a similar situation to the one I faced back on that September night almost two years ago.
Disturbing my reflections, the coppers arrived a few minutes later. After getting my statement they went to talk to the girl. While that was happening, the auxiliary that was with them struck up a conversation with me and pointed out that he remembered me from our time in the military together (nothing is more damaging to your street cred than when a pig recognizes you on friendly terms … fml). After questioning the victim the cops asked me if they could perhaps call me later cause the chick was “being a retard” when questioned. I assured them that that would be fine and went on my way.
I rode home with a bittersweet feeling: On the one hand I felt good for coming to the aid of two people who seemed unable to sort out their problems without violence. On the other hand, every time I have to call 911 I feel I compromise a bit of myself: I don’t want to have to need police, but they are, for the time being, a sad necessity for the world we live in. Call me an idealist, but I look forward to the day when we will not need them….and I still mean everything bad I said about them tonight 😛
One Night in the Big City: Part 2 (Part 1 to follow)
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