Culture vulture

Photo By Andre Welling

Caution: Police car ahead
So there we were, the lovely I. Daphne St. Brie and self, cruising down Humboldt Avenue toward town on a return trip from the fabulous Grocery Outlet on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The air was clear and bright and warm, and a deliciously languid late-spring atmosphere permeated the neighborhood. But, just as I was preparing to idly comment on the pleasantness of this scene, we rounded one of the curves that characterize that stretch of Humboldt and found ourselves in the middle of a scenario that looked tailor made for an episode of Cops.

One police car was making a quick left turn down Poplar, another shot past us on Humboldt and a third pulled over to the right about a half-block ahead of us, apparently to have a chat with a couple of gents on bicycles who were stopped under a tree on the fringes of the Mim’s Bakery parking lot. No sirens or flashing lights were being deployed, so I proceeded cautiously, wondering aloud what the source of all this police activity in our normally quiet little neighborhood could be.

Just as I was concluding with a dismissive, “Oh well, whatever it was, they must’ve …” the cop who had pulled off to the side to chat with the bicyclists decided—without using his car’s turn signal or an arm signal—to floorboard his vehicle and make a U-turn directly across my path. Mind you, we were just about adjacent with his rear bumper when he began this maneuver, apparently not having bothered to look into his rearview or side mirrors to see if anyone was coming up the street behind him. Only a fortuitous combination of Culture Vulture’s lightening-like reflexes, slow driving speed and the high-efficiency steering and braking systems of our five-year-old Toyota Echo averted disaster.

There was a screeching of tires skidding on warm pavement, an involuntary shriek of “Oh my god!” from my beloved, and a genuinely amazing lack of the sickening crunch of metal-to-metal impact.

Instead I received what can only be termed a petulant look from the officer behind the wheel as he continued his turn and sped past in the opposite direction, having missed colliding with our car by a margin that could have been measured in fractions of an inch. All this taking place still with no flashing lights or sirens to warn others that a dangerously reckless driver was careening through a placid residential neighborhood with no apparent regard for the safety of civilian motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, children or pets. The fact that said driver was operating a police vehicle was, to put it mildly, not reassuring.

So, when you see a police car, fellow citizens, proceed with all due caution. You never know when the guy behind the wheel might start behaving in a manner that would get anyone else arrested.