Over the past week or so, a work crew (See: chain gang) has been working in our town. It's a group of roughly ten inmates, mostly black, dressed in denim jumpsuits and wearing bright orange toboggans. They have been sweeping gravel out of the gutter, picking up trash, and raking leaves in the park. They are quiet, polite, and friendly.
They are usually accompanied by two officers, sometimes one. The officers are dressed in black. They wear heavy black jackets. They carry guns. They never smile. Never join in the work. They stand by idly and look mean. They don't nod when you pass them, even though a nod is the preferred greeting between neighbors and cars on the road.
I'd seen them nearly every day as they were doing a lot of work in the park. I saw that they would all watch me toss frisbee for Scout. We had a thing going on.
Until last Thursday.
Scout and I were out in the park like we usually are, and so was the work crew. And you know, Scout isn't exactly quiet when he plays frisbee. He barks when he thinks he's made a particularly spectacular catch. And the frisbee is bright red with a donut hole in the middle. And it flies through the air for Pete's sake. And I was wearing a bright white down jacket. It's not like we exactly blended into the background. And we had been out there for a full 20 minutes already. Which is why what happened next is so perplexing.
And he lifted his shoulders, hiked up his jacket, and began to fiddle with his zipper.
Immediately, I called out to him, "Seriously! You are going to piss right in front of me?"
He didn't look up. He just kept moving forward with the process.
Scout brought me the frisbee. I held it up high and waved it at the guy.
A nice big arch of urine is how he returned my greeting.
So I cleared my throat and shouted, "HEY! OFFICER! I'M STANDING RIGHT HERE!"
Now I've got his attention. That stream began to waver and sway. He didn't know which way to turn. Eventually, he decided to walk over and pee on the building. When he finished, he rezipped and without looking at me or apologizing, he returned to the van and drove away.
I hope the inmates laughed at him the whole way home.
For my part, I headed to the city building. I was pissed. No pun intended. I was pissed because if anyone else had done that, they'd have been arrested. I was pissed because he was an officer in charge of inmates and has a responsibility to set a good example. I was pissed because it was only by luck that he had pissed in front of an adult and not the kids that usually play in the park. I was pissed because it was dereliction of duty.
I told the city clerk that if they were going to invite a work crew out they might want to make accommodations for them. She was appalled.
"Did they urinate in the park?"
"Not the inmates," I told her. "The police officer in charge of them."
Now, she was flabbergasted.
"He makes THEM wait."
"Apparently, he couldn't."
"They have access to a restroom in this building," she said.
"They aren't taking advantage of it," I replied.
"Don't worry. I'll see that this moves up the line."
And that was how I came to see a police officer's junk.