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.
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?