I was driving to work the other day, actually not headed to work but on an uncharted commute to Disneyland, where my team was having a two day meeting/fun-fest. My phone’s navigation was on the blink, so I was relying on printed out driving directions to guide me. It was 10:30am, and I was in one of two lanes that merged into the highway. As soon as I turned, I saw that the meter was on (for those of you who don’t live in LA, the “meter” is a traffic light designed to space out cars entering the highway during rush hour), and thought “That’s strange, it’s not rush hour…,” and before I could complete the thought, muchless make a corrective maneuver to get out of the HOV lane, a cop flagged me over. He was waiting, standing outside of his car, on the side of the ramp. A very, very short ramp. It was glaringly obvious what his game was.
I contemplated my options. A: accelerate and leave ol’ trapper copper to eat my dust, or B: comply and pull over (and try not to get arrested by calling him out on being an asshole). I went with B (if for no other reason, does LA really need another car chase?)
So I’m idling in the shoulder, watching in the rear-view mirror as the cop slowly swaggers towards me, looking the spitting image of the 70’s TV show, CHiPs, with his short-sleeved tan uniform and aviator sunglasses. He approaches on the passenger side, and asks a bunch of questions for the highly valuable purpose of asserting his authority (I mean, assessing the criminal situation). Questions like “Where are you headed to this morning?” and “What are you doing on Silverlake Boulevard?,” to which the answers were “Disneyland” (thanks for f’ing up my drive to the HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH, you douchebag!) and “That’s what my directions said to do” (pointing to the directions laid out on the passenger seat – the directions that made my story that I’d never been on this path before, a path which (surprise!) lacked any HOV signage before it was too late – undeniably true).
I didn’t do the weak woman move and cry. In fact, it took all my will power not to tell him off for being the true criminal in this scenario, and that I’d have had more respect for him had he been honest about it and just punched me in the face and stolen my wallet.
And the worst part is that on my normal commute to work, I sit in the metered lane of a long on-ramp for fifteen minutes every morning, watching the HOV lane go unused while us 99% of drivers waste our lives confined to the single lane we’re allowed to use. I have never, ever seen a cop on that ramp.
I’ve never been one of those people who hates cops. In fact, the limited contact I’ve had with them has generally been positive. When my wallet was stolen a couple of years ago and the cops came to my apartment to take a report, they actually managed to cheer me up. To this day, I have a soft spot for big lug Irish New York City cops. But this guy, this employed-by-my-tax-dollars thief, he was a different breed. If my Irish guys are the good cops, this guy is most certainly a bad cop. A bad cop who succeeded that morning not in protecting anyone, nor in serving anyone but the government money pit.
Officer Denharder (I will refrain from obvious jokes about your name because it’s just too easy – easy like the trap you set for me and the line of cars before and after me), here’s some advice: if you feel that this is the best use of your life, the greatest manifestation of the undoubtedly valiant reason you became a police officer, then maybe sit on the side of the actual highway and try to catch drivers who are actually driving in the HOV lane, not people who are simply turning right from the wrong lane. And to the genius who decided LA would benefit from HOV lanes, bravo on making an already dysfunctional highway system even worse. I hope the LAPD is giving you a kickback for helping them out.