Monday, May 23, 2022

A Conversation With a Cop

Annamaria on Monday

This past Saturday, on my way home from the farm market in Union Square, I saw that University Place was lined with barriers.  There were squads of policemen here and there on the edges of the square and squad cars parked all around. For New Yorkers this could mean only one thing, an event - a parade or a bicycle rally or a planned demonstration – all of which are pretty common in NYC in the fine weather months.

So I did what New Yorkers do.  I walked up to the nearest policeman to ask him what was up. The ensuing conversation was informative and moving, so much so that I decided to share it here.

"Good morning Officer," I said. "What's happening today."

"A dance parade," the officer answered. He was young, maybe mid to late 20s, fair-skinned, and perhaps blond under his spiffy regulation-issue cop hat.  He had a slight  accent, and the name on his tag was Eastern European - Polish, perhaps, or Ukrainian.

While I was feeling sorry for the dancers about to parade on what threatened to become an August-hot day, the officer gave me a wan smile.  "Something nice for me for a change," he said.

"Where are you normally stationed?" I asked.

"The Bronx.  The South Bronx."

We sighed in unison.  "A tough place to live," I said tentatively.

He nodded vehemently. "Really hard. It can get crazy.  So much domestic violence. Last week a kid who looked 10 years old flip me a bird for no reason whatsoever."

"He was talking to the uniform," I said.  And immediately regretted it.

''I was in the hospital yesterday with a gunshot wound. I didn't know if he was a bad guy or just a victim.  It's the victims that get to you."

"I feel bad for you and for the people who have no place else to live." He nodded in agreement, and I continued, "I think it's 10% of the population that's gone off the rails and make it miserable for everybody."

"Less than that," he said. "Maybe half that, but they ruin it for everybody."

I was in the process of saying that I thought all most people want is a decent life, enough to eat, a little music… Then, his cell phone buzzed.  He shrugged one shoulder and started to move toward the squad car parked nearby. "Take very good care of yourself please," I said.

"Thank you," he said. "And thank you for the conversation."

"Thank you.  And thank you for your service."

He waved good-bye.


  1. Thank you for this sweet and touching piece.

  2. Thank you, Ovidia. It had the effect on you that I hoped for. It's become too hard, in my country, for people to talk to one another calmly and sympathetically. Officer D. (I'll call him) and I, in those few minutes, found a modicum of mutual understanding. A little drop in the bucket of balm that the whole world seem to need at this moment.

  3. At times, it can seem like half the world has gone made, but one on one, MOST people are decent people.

    1. Thank you, EvKa. I've probably said this to you before. My father taught me this: "If you trust everybody, you will be right 95% of the time. Officer D's guess at the percentage was the same when it comes to the ratio of good people in the South Bronx!

  4. "[A]ll most people want is a decent life, enough to eat, a little music." Yep.

    1. What I said to EvKa, Bro. The worst of the evil 5% to me are people greedy for power. To achieve their ends, they sow discord that yields a harvest that includes 18-year-olds who dream of executing people for buying groceries while black.