My husband’s job has changed considerably in the past couple of years. While he was once a street cop with lots of interaction with the public (read: long hours on patrol) he is now at a desk more often than not. He’s still saving the world in his own way, but lunch is more often eaten at a desk versus behind the wheel of a car.
I often chide him about going out for lunch. I say all the things a wife has been known to say: you should take a break, get time away from the computer, get some fresh air, etc.
“It’s just not worth it.” He says, and then proceeds to explain to me why. It cuts into his time to actually eat lunch and breathe a little; by the time he heads outside, stands on line, grabs lunch…you get the picture. He also insists that he always gets approached by the public. They ask questions, ask for directions, or worse…they need Police help…and at that point, he’s just a hungry guy trying to grab a bite to eat.
I get it.
However I really got it the other day when I was in Midtown Manhattan. For those of you unfamiliar with NYC, Midtown is where all the stuff you see on TV is located: the Empire State building, Times Square, et al. I was walking from the East Side over to the West Side and had just decided to pop into a Chipotle for a quick Mexican fix. Side topic: I have mixed emotions about Chipotle to begin with, because of reported incidents about the way they threat Law Enforcement Officers. Since I haven’t experienced any of their prejudice firsthand, I will still eat there for the time being.
That said…I was craving guacamole.
So I grabbed my bowl and saddled up to a stool facing 42nd Street. As I was pulling off my various layers of clothing, I noticed the guy next to me shoot me a side glance, and I nodded. Us Native New Yorkers tend to give a half-smile/side glance/I’m checking-you-out-but-don’t-want-you-to-know thing and call it a day. This all happens in nanoseconds.
I think nothing of him.
A few forkfuls in, he turns toward me and says, “Are you a cop?”
I look at him questioningly and then peer down and realize that I’m wearing an NYPD sweatshirt. I left the house in the usual rush, so I just threw it on and headed out the door.
“Oh!” I smile and chew. “No…but do you need help?” I figured if he was a tourist that I can help him get wherever it is that he needed to go.
“No.” He sneers. “I was just wondering…you know.” He gestures towards my sweatshirt.
“Oh, yes…my husband’s a cop.” I generally say this with pride, but I’m starting to feel the little alarm bells going off in my head and my thoughts turn instantly to the anti-police climate that we currently live in, as I begin reaching for my phone.
“Yeah…well…I was just wondering, you know…my wife, NO, my ex-wife...” He sneers again as he crumples his burrito wrapper, “Just had me falsely arrested.”
Oh, here we go…
He proceeds to try and engage me in the details of his “false arrest” while I shovel food down my throat at the pace of a competitive eater. I am not sure if he’s unsafe, but he’s rambling, and either way wants to go on and on about this injustice. I am watching him far more than I am listening to him, still making all the right noises in the meantime. I am playing along. At some point, he tilts the conversation toward kids getting busted for weed, and how cops just like to go after these kids for minuscule amounts of weed. I am tempted to inform him about how patently false this information is; that the current administration in New York City can give two shits less about people smoking pot, openly, on the streets, and how they have even advised cops to not arrest these menaces to society.
I hold my tongue.
This is a Tuesday at 4 o’clock in the afternoon in Midtown Manhattan, people. This is not a conversation that’s going down in a scary section of the City. This is the New Police Culture: where the police are wrong and the
criminals citizens are right.
I manage to extricate myself from this individual and go on my merry way. I wish him well in his fight, and I even smile at him as I leave.
But as I re-enter the pedestrian traffic flow, I begin to realize how right my husband is…sometimes it’s just not worth going out to lunch.