I used to be on the bike squad. It was a great assignment; you got to wear shorts, lots of fresh air, and my calves were rock hard. You’d think that with all of the cardio, I would have lost lots of weight, but I actually ballooned like a pro baseball player’s bicep on steroids. The problem is that one of our assignments involved checking in at the stop-and-robs (mini-marts) throughout the shift. Man, did those BBQ burritos, chicken fingers, chili dogs and jo-jos taste good; not only that, you could buy three for a dollar.
Another responsibility involved patrolling an area along the railroad tracks where all of the bums, winos, and street people hung out. I resist the PC title of “homeless” for these people, because that whole attitude suggests that society is somehow to blame for their lot in life, and that they are, in whole, unable to do anything to improve their lot in life. The truth is that the vast majority of these people are alcoholics, some are drug users, and a few are mental health patients. Our area, like many others throughout the US, offers several services for these people. However, most of these services just make life on the street easier; they are not designed to actually encourage people to earn a better life. Which is compassion; giving a wino free food so that he can spend all his welfare money on cheap booze, or actually holding him accountable for his choices, encouraging him to stop a self-destructive lifestyle and others to not join him?
Sorry… waxing political. One time Officer Tom and I were biking up to a local drinking spot, and I peeked around a corner. I saw a regular, Jose, receiving a, er… well, a “Lewinsky” from someone who I could not see. I called Tom over (this kind of event needs witnesses in order to make a better story in the muster room) and said, “Some gal is (servicing) Jose!” Tom looked and said back, “That’s no gal, that’s Alfred!” I took another look and sure enough, it was another regular, Alfred.
We called them both out and asked what happened; Alfred said that he was doing what he had to do in order to get enough money for a 40 ounce bottle of beer. Jose already had some beer, but had on him $1.67, which together with what money Alfred already had, would have bought him his own bottle. So we charged them both with Prostitution and reached for the open bottle of beer that Jose had in order to pour it out (Drinking in Public is also a crime). Jose, who had no more money for beer, grabbed the bottle and started to run away. I gave chase and took Jose down, while driving my bare knee into the ground. The problem is, that winos are not the cleanest people in the world, and there areas are not downy soft, but rather filled with broken glass, feces and urine. Several large, filthy pieces of glass were driven into my knee.
Once at the hospital ER, I was (ironically) next to an 8 year-old girl who had fallen from her bicycle. She was dealing with her injury much better than I was mine. The doctor came in and said that they just had to “clean” the wound. This required picking out all of the glass, then removing all of the dirty, abraded flesh. This was accomplished with a scrubber, a stainless steel toothbrush and a sadistic nurse. After a fresh tetanus shot I was cleared to go home. I could not bicycle for a while, or for that matter bend my knee until the skin grew back.
I sure hope that Jose and Alfred found a job, at least one that pays better that $1.67.
Nice socks, right?