Tuesday, February 19, 2008


"Sir! Sir!"

If there is one thing I know, it is to not stop to speak with a cop who is calling out to you unless you have to. It's never a good thing.

I had run across the street down by the National Theatre on a stale yellow light. I managed to get one foot into the intersection before it turned red and I made a mad dash to get across, causing the cars waiting to go on green to have to pause to allow me to get all the way across on foot. But don't runners always have the right of way?

It was dark, and I was runnning from work to the Watergate to join up with a weekly evening Mall run. We were going to do seven and I didn't want to be late and miss them.

I had noticed a cop in the intersection as I crossed, and a squad car blocking the road leading to the National Theatre. The shouts for me to stop began as soon as I made it across, on red.

Uh-oh, I thought, here's my first jay-walking summons coming up.

But that was only if I stopped. I hadn't made eye contact with anybody. How did I know who they were shouting at? Ignorance is bliss, right?

I kept going without looking back, a little quicker now. I wasn't running towards any police that I could see. I figured the cop behind me was on foot, directing traffic, and wouldn't run after a runner. I wanted to get to the end of the block and vanish.

"Hey you! Stop!"

Pretty insistent. Clearly I hadn't done anything they could shoot at me for.

"Sir! Stop!"

The voice wasn't receding. It was coming after me. Alright, they were serious.

I stopped and turned. It was a female cop coming, on a bicycle. She skidded to a stop beside me.

"You speaking to me?" I inquired, in my best Alan Ladd imitation. I wanted to dispel any notion the policewoman might have of scienter.

"Yes! I told you to stop."

"I'm sorry. I didn't know." For once I wished I had headphones so I could really claim that I was oblivious to the command to halt.

"Street's closed. You'll have to go around."

Ah, no ticket. Must be a White House function. I ran off in the pointed direction immediately, before the conversation had a chance to develop further. Like I have said before, DC cops are wise enough not to uselessly ask runners to show an I.D.

Later I was relating this story to the small group of runners as we looped around behind the Capitol in the dark. "Closest I ever came to a jay-walking ticket," I said.

Another runner tossed off a comment that gave me real pause for reflection. "Probably closest you ever came to getting tasered, too."

I hadn't thought of that. That cop could have been priming that pump, charging that conduit, as she pedaled furiously after me. 1,000 volts of stored electricity just for me. It's a brave new world alright.

Don't tase me, Sis. Owww!

What did I do?


Anonymous said...

Exciting run...I'm glad she didn't tase you!

CewTwo said...

You've met Tom. He was in downtown Denver one night removing his carpet cleaning equipment from a building to his van. A lady police officer came up to him and asked him what he was doing. She sounded excited (breathless, agitated, abusive language) and he told her that he was loading his equipment.
It doesn't matter what was said but it escalated on both sides. She soon pulled her taser and advanced on Tom. He called me. I called the security station at the building and the rover headed out to the scene.
It was a good thing that additional officers came at about that time. Tom had done nothing wrong but the lady officer was just short of tasing him. They calmed her down. They talked to Tom and actually apologized to him. He beat feet soon after!

It does happen.

On the other hand... The only way that I think I could keep up with you at full pace would be for me to be on a bike...


Susan said...

Jeez Louise!!!

Just12Finish said...

Taser? What happened to throwing the baton thingy and chopping you down at the legs?

ShirleyPerly said...

Ooh, wearing headphones and getting tased because you weren't paying attention to an officer's demands, that would make for a good anti-headphones lesson and a YouTube video :-)

Sunshine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sunshine said...

Certainly good you didn't get hurt!!
I commented.. and then decided my comment was too trivial for the gravity of your experience.. so deleted it.
There was possibility for greater harm for you. Police killed somebody here recently with taser.
Fortunately runners don't look like they are escaping from bank robberies.

DawnB said...

that was close Peter. I've never had that experience. I'm sure it I had someone yelling at me to stop, my first instinct would be to run faster.

skoshi said...

Video was disturbing, but an eye-opener--I hadn't seen it before.

Glad you did NOT get tasered. Electricity like that can yield unintentional side-results.

On the flip side, careful when trying to outrun intersection lights--someone who is not paying attention may be driving that car...

Thanks for the story.

Love2Run said...

You're living dangerously running red lights and all on foot. Glad that it all worked out.

Rainmaker said...

Nice, I would have been teetering on the edge of stop/non-stop as well. Glad to see it worked out for ya.

I hate all the closed roads around DC, but at least most of the time it doesn't effect runners - just cars.

David said...

I am with you. Runners have all rights of way.