Rockville Police Report

Having been a Boy Scout in my formative years, I was imbued with the need for obedience to law and respect for authority. But sometimes it gets a little difficult.

Last evening, I was cycling back from Wendy’s, after a hilly ride looping around Rockville. I was coming down Rockville Pike on the sidewalk southbound next to the Woodmont Country Club [Rednecks Need Not Apply], I noticed that a cop had pulled over and parked just in the entry drive to the club. (Big stoplight there at Rockville Pike). I was surprised because I had never seen any cops pulling over there before and didn’t see any cars also pulled over for speeding or tail light violations.

As I am rolling along (juggling a halfbroken paper bag with a hamburger and a baked potato) the cop – a black guy – mid-late 30s – a bit heavyset – gets out of the car – comes up to the point where the sidewalk intercepts the crossroads – and has his arms folded like Solomon waiting to pass judgment, and I notice he appears to be glaring in my direction.

I keep riding towards him – and then he holds up his hand to stop, like a sheriff pulling up in front of a stagecoach.

I hit the brakes and ground to a halt.

“Have you been running red lights?” He asks ominously giving me the Third Degree stare.

“No,” I answered honestly. At least not since I picked up the hamburger.

“Were you riding on the Pike?”

“No,” I replied. Dumb question, since I was on the sidewalk at that point and he had been eyeing me like an escaped fugitive for at least 100 yards away.

“We just got a call from a lady who said that someone bicycling heading southbound on the Pike was running red lights and riding in the road.”

“Well, it’s not me.”

He looked at me with wrinkled brow, perhaps a bit contemptuous of my denial.

“Did she give a physical description of the cyclist?” I asked nonchalantly.

He looked a bit uncomfortable.

“No. She just said it was a cyclist.”

I looked at him and let a few seconds pass.

“There are a lot of people out here cycling,” I noted.

The cop replied: “You’re the only cyclist that I have seen. I will stop any other cyclists that I see.”

I paused – tilted my head a bit – and asked, “Did she call this in on the 911 number?’

He looked a bit ruffled. ‘Uh – no – she used the non -emergency number.”

Curious that they would patch through such a call to a policeman on Rockville Pike during prime rush hour so quickly….

“But you haven’t been riding on the Pike?” he asked, seeking the high ground.

“Some times of day it is safe to ride on the Pike – but not during rush hour. I wouldn’t ride on the Pike at 6:30 in the evening. I prefer to ride on the roads but there is no space on this one.”

“You’re not supposed to ride on the Pike,” he said firmly.

“Is that against the law?” I asked, suppressing a grin.

He looked a little squeamish. “No…. but it’s not safe.”

I smiled and stared again at Cpl. [******]’s badge to get his name.

He then announced that I could go. I figured I had peppered him with enough questions, so I let him go, too. He started heading back to his car. So much for the story about waiting at this strategic crossroads to catch the cyclist who was breaking the law and threatening to throw Rockville into turmoil.

“Great weather out here today,” I chirped as I got back on the bike.

“Ya – take care,” he said without conviction.

“You too!” I smiled.




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19 Responses to Rockville Police Report

  1. Sunni April 26, 2006 at 9:58 am #

    Curious that they would patch through such a call to a policeman on Rockville Pike during prime rush hour so quickly…
    Well, now you know: bikes are the new WMD.

  2. Jim April 26, 2006 at 10:23 am #

    Maybe the CIA will gin up with a report that the steel tubes of the bike frame are actually intended for use in manufacturing nuclear weapon components.

  3. Kevin B. O'Reilly April 26, 2006 at 10:34 am #

    Jim, glad you didn’t let the cop give you any guff. I’m curious, though, why you didn’t just eat your meal at Wendy’s. Wouldn’t that have been easier than trying to cycle home with take-out?

  4. Jim April 26, 2006 at 10:53 am #

    Wendy’s doesn’t have beer.

  5. Sunni April 26, 2006 at 11:59 am #

    Your bike didn’t have one of those “This Bike is a Pipe Bomb” stickers on it that caused such a ruckus in Athens, OH a while back, did it?

  6. Jim April 26, 2006 at 12:18 pm #

    No, but it does have a fair amount of duct tape on the bike seat.

    Maybe a Homeland Security spy camera at one of the intersectoins detected the duct tape – remembered their warning in early 2003 that people should stock up on duct tape in case of a chemical weapons attack – and the cop assumed I was linked to a terrorist cell.

    Or perhaps they thought the location of the duct tape was an scurrilous comment on what I thought of their advice.

  7. Anthony Gregory April 26, 2006 at 12:36 pm #

    It’s a good thing you weren’t carrying an Atlas! They would have taken you in for sure!

  8. Jim April 26, 2006 at 1:15 pm #

    Y’know, that’s why I never, ever take my copy of The Anarchist’s Cookbook with me when I go biking.

  9. Dave April 27, 2006 at 10:51 am #

    Jim, The Boy Scout Law prevails once again….Obedience and Reverence…though your former Scoutmaster (Father) will surely have a wry smile at your interpretations of each in this little comedy vignette. I only hope you didn’t suppress a smirk the entire time.

  10. Jim April 27, 2006 at 11:36 am #

    I have struggled for decades with that Reverence part of the Scout oath. Funny that Scouts in the mid-late 60s were being taught to take a very deferential attitude towards government – at the same time that the government was committing so many rascalities.

    I don’t recall that exposing government wrongdoing was one of the options for Citizenship merit badge. (Or did that merit badge have some other name?)

    Yes, Dad would have been amused at yesterday’s exchange on the Pike….

  11. Sunni April 27, 2006 at 8:31 pm #

    Jim, I prefer to think you did the Boy Scout thing under “Tom Lehrer rules”.

  12. Jim April 27, 2006 at 8:40 pm #

    Sunni – Tom Lehrer never made it to Front Royal, Virginia – at least not before I was ridden out of town on a rail.

  13. Sunni April 27, 2006 at 9:23 pm #

    More’s the pity—you and he would be quite a team. He’s still around, you know … but he’s observed, quite rightly in most respects, that there’s little left to satirize.

  14. Jim April 27, 2006 at 9:38 pm #

    At least Tom Lehrer can take the quiet satisfaction that the nation listened to his songs, heeded his warnings, and is now so rational and prudent that there is nothing left to spoof.

    I have heard some of his songs and shake my head to think of how much hypocrisy must have existed back in the 1960s. Another reason to count our blessings for the new Millennium.

  15. Sunni April 28, 2006 at 11:18 am #

    Hahahaha!! I’ll add some Lehrer tunes to the stuff I send you. Got any requests?

  16. Jim April 28, 2006 at 3:26 pm #

    Whatever you think best!

    I’ll send some fiddling your way.

  17. Brian Wilson April 29, 2006 at 7:29 am #

    I had the great pleasure of interviewing Tom Lehrer on my KSFO/San Francisco show a few years back after discovering he lived on the Left Coast.
    We – or at least I – had a great time learning first hand the hassles he got from his colleagues, the inspiration for Bright College Days, The Boy Scout Marching Song, etc. Indeed, he admitted the world had gotten to such a state (no pun intended) there was nothing left to satirize any longer. At the end, he granted me permission to continue using “sliding down the razor blade of life” on future shows!

  18. Jim April 29, 2006 at 7:53 am #

    Brian – Thanks for the great insight.

    Well, I reckon if we need to know the truth of the matter, we should have come to you first.

    Sounds like Lehrer was a great interview. And I have smiled many times when you have used the razor blade line on the air when you have had me on.

    Did Lehrer have anything to do with the “wagonload of wet goats” quip?

  19. Brian Wilson April 29, 2006 at 8:09 am #

    Actually, no. I don’t recall exactly from what wellspring (or septic tank) of inspiration that line or “an acre of garlic” sprung. Naturally, I prefer to take credit for “Originality” and “Brilliance”. However, the ’60’s being what they were, I can’t do that with what remains of “good conscience”.
    Altho I do have a dim memory of being on the Levy Road outside of Baton Rouge one steamy summer afternoon, stuck behind a wagon load of wet goats…..