I enjoy speed.
The controlled and predictable way it makes my heart beat just a little bit faster than usual.
The hyper sensitive vision and generally increased attention to my surroundings which actually makes me feel safer than if I was being lulled to sleep at ‘normal’ speeds.
And the rapidity in which I arrive to my destinations.
I have driven across the United States in 36 hours on more than one occasion in part because of my comfort at high speeds.
Now if you tell me I’m a danger to those around me.
I say bullshit.
A sleepy driver or drivers on cell phones or with distractions are far more of concern than someone like me who pays equal attention to where he’s coming to where he’s going and is quite adept at avoiding people who swerve into my lane at the last minute due to their inattention and at any speed would cause a collision had I not been paying attention and avoided it.
One time, coming home from skiing with my friends Michael Moore and Christina Monde up at Pinetop, Arizona, all three of us were tired and anxious to get back to Phoenix – which had me driving much faster than usual.
It’s what kept me awake.
Christina. Always pretty emotionless as a female, and a frequent passenger of mine back in those days had remarked just how fast I drove and how she never felt nervous about it because, as she said “You are always so utterly in control of it and I always feel safe. Anyone else and I’d be screaming at them, but you, are always in control”
So on this trip back from Pinetop, Arizona to Phoenix – I was bookin down the final hill on the outskirts of Phoenix, my truck going as fast as it would go – 100 miles per hour – where for about 30 miles I had a family following me in their truck as well and we felt pretty safe in our mini caravan.
But to my surprise. A police officer first pulled behind him. Then behind me. And pulled us both over.
To Mike and Christina’s surprise, I rolled down the window, and started to get out of the car.
They were sure a confrontation would ensue.
But as the officer walked up and said “I need you to get back in your car,”
To which I obeyed, and as he walked up I said. “Sure thing, officer, but first can I ask you a question?”
He shined the flashlight in the cab of the truck and then me and said “What’s that?”
I was utterly sincere as I said “That was AWESOME. Where in the hell were you hiding? I can’t believe you caught me.”
He smiled. My friends chuckled nervously.
And then through his smile he said “Just a moment, I’ll be right back”
As the officer walked over to the other truck behind me, both Christina and Mike didn’t say a word.
In their tired state, they simply didn’t know how to react. They were just as surprised by my reaction as the officer.
About 10 minutes later, the officer got done talking with the occupants of the car behind me and pulls away.
The officer walks back up to my car.
And not knowing what to expect.
He asks for my driver’s license and registration.
I hand it to him and not knowing what to say, I just continue.
“Look, officer, I know I was going probably close to a hundred there, and you caught me fair and square. But I was paying extreme attention to my surroundings at that speed, not just to keep myself and my friends safe, but also to look out for.. well.. you.”
He didn’t respond at first but his demeanor notably shifted.
“Which has me curious. Just where in the hell were you and how did you see me going that fast? Wherever you were, it was awesome.”
He said something on his microphone, and said “One moment”
When he walks back to his car..
Christina, more of a manly woman and closer to an utterly nonsexual guy friend than a real woman, then socks me in the arm.
“Owww,” I exclaim.
“Will you just shut the fuck up before you get us all arrested?,” she said.
“I’m curious though, he caught me, the most he’s gonna give ius a ticket. I might as well commend the guy’s efforts,” I said.
“Just,” she said, “Be quiet”
“AS if,” I thought.
The officer comes back to the car, and says “Mr Gregory, will you please step out of the car.”
“Have you been drinking?”
It’s obvious I haven’t been, so I answer accordingly.
My window’s still open and my friends are hearing everything.
“Here’s your license and registration back,” he then looks at the road we’d just traveled, as he shines a light off to the side of the road, “This highway has what we call fire trails, they aren’t marked and they aren’t well traveled, and aren’t regularly cleared and ar e primarily used for fire services to put out fire,”
“And since they don’t have traffic buildup. I wouldn’t see it from the highway.”
“Especially at high speeds,” he said.
“Look,” he said, “I’m going to let you go with a warning. For the next 30 miles until you hit Phoenix, I ask that you maintain the speed limits. After that, you’re out of my area. You have a good night, Mr Gregory, and thank you for making my night.”
To which he stepped away, as I got back into my truck and both Michael and Christina’s mouths were wide open in disbelief.
In the 47 years I’ve lived here in the United States.
I have one time – and only one time – witnessed an officer actually holding a firearm.
And that was here in Los Angeles.
When I was dead asleep at night. 2am in the morning.
In my tent.
When an Los Angeles Police Officer woke me up with a firearm pointed at me as I opened up the zipper to my tent.
Now mind you I have been in extreme circumstances around the world. Not the least of which are much more sketchy circumstances involving drugs, alcohol, and excessive speeding.
But not one time have I ever witnessed an officer of the law threatening me with a firearm.
And for the most part.
50% of the officers I have interacted with have been helpful.
So as a homeless person.
The police tell me not to loiter. They give me phone numbers to places to ‘help’ me unbecome being homeless which wind up being dead ends and never being helpful. They threaten me at my tent with firearms. And while most of them are quite benign. They’re not, in my opinion, doing their job.
Isn’t that what keeping the peace is all about?
Helping. Not inciting.
Did the LAPD miss these lessons in ethics and how to support the public with Rodney King?
Police, in my opinion, aren’t just there to be present and punish offenders.
They’re there to help guide the public. To understand there’s going to be times where someone’s behavior ISNT really threatening the population, despite it disobeying obvious laws. To weigh their decisions and consider the possibilities of ‘letting go’ certain offenders while not coming across contradictory or hypocritical for not letting go others.
As a homeless man. I would have thought the police, having access to the same news I did, would have seen the homeless issue as a problem in Los Angeles, and in turn they might forward complaints about corrupt state related agencies who are supposed to be there for the homeless who might participate in white collar crimes by ‘double dipping’ – taking money from the state AND public at the same time.
You see. I don’t mind paying my fines when I get them.
But the police aren’t just there to provide a service to the public.
They’re supported by public monies to be the eyes and ears for the leaders and systems they protect and serve.