Last night I was stopped by police. It was about 1AM and I was coming back from Manhattan heading to a bar on 21st St. I needed to buy some groceries and passed the Trade Fair on 36th Ave. I went up on the sidewalk to look inside, trying to decide whether it was worth my while to buy some groceries in this unfamiliar Trade Fair or wait for my familiar 30th Ave branch.
I was stopped in front of the store, having just deciding that it was better to get beer first and then go to the store I know when po-po pulls up next to me. The passenger side window rolls down and a man asks me, “Do you have ID?” “Sure,” I say almost happily. Given my history and professional interests, I actually kind of like being harassed by police. I’m good at talking to cops. Don’t play dumb. Don’t lie. Don't act pissed off (even if you are). Don’t say, “don’t you have anything better to do?!”
Does he think I’m looking for drugs in the projects across the street? Does he think my balaclava means I’m going to rob the store? Or is he just going to bust me for being on the sidewalk or not having a bell? I give him my work ID.
He looks at my ID for a moment and says, “We stopped you for riding on the sidewalk. You know that’s not allowed?” It was 20 degrees out. At 1AM. In Queens. But I put on my sheepish face. “Yeah, I know it’s not allowed. But I just wanted to look in this store and figured you wouldn’t care because it’s ten below out. I’m sorry.” My tone was nice, conversational, even respectful. We actually exchanged some pleasantries and then they left. I continued to break bike laws all the way home.