I know when most people imagine someone who has a mustache, they immediately picture a philosophy major, a 1970â€™s adult entertainer â€” or wonder how far away the person has to stay from school zones. But some mustaches are also standard issue to policemen.
I was riding my bike home from an errand and stopped at Laurel. There were no cars within 200 feet of me, so I pedaled myself across the crosswalk, and thatâ€™s when I saw that large standard issue mustache and black soulless aviator sunglasses direct his glance my way.
I continued to pedal and crossed the street onto the right side of the road, trying not to let the gaze faze me too much. Thatâ€™s when I looked over, and he was right beside me pointing at me to pull over, as if the wind passing by as we rode was too much to talk through. He then kicked his kickstand as I awkwardly straddled the frame of my bike, awaiting his cop jargon.
His shorts were nauseatingly short and really left me wondering if those were standard issue like his mustache. I also wondered if he had tailored them to strike fear into the perpetrators of victimless crimes that he was set out to reprimand.
The simple question of asking how my day was going almost infuriated me, merely because of how muddled it was after the words had breached through his mustache.
He didnâ€™t remove his glasses when he asked me if I knew why I was being pulled over. I replied simply with, â€œI havenâ€™t the slightest idea officer. Did I look like a threat crossing the street along a crosswalk?â€
He didnâ€™t seem to like my response or my excessive use of my First Amendment rights. In all honesty, I may have been better off kissing his ass, but as he continued to scribble away with his stylus, I didnâ€™t see a point in being pleasant. When he finally finished writing, he went about telling me why he pulled me over, which I still thought was worth refuting.
â€œSir, I was using the crosswalk. Itâ€™s not like I was yielding a weapon and chasing down a handicapped man across the road. Iâ€™m just in a rush.â€ The officer replied simply by telling me the dangers of disregarding red lights, and all the unseen possible dangers that could inflict pain on me by doing so.
Really, it all sounded like crap to me. I glanced through the ticket and was first caught by the $35 charge, which I assumed was all I needed to pay for the offense. When I got home, I found that was only the surcharge. My actual ticket amounted to $135!
Are we so far gone from our knowledge of â€œrightâ€ and â€œwrongâ€ that bike cops can get away with this type of mistreatment? There seems to be no physical evidence as far as I can provide that someone should be left with $135 deficit for being impatient and on a busy schedule.
I told this story to one of my friends a few weeks after the ticket had been dealt with. He talked about a professor, who for the sake of probably not wanting to be named, wonâ€™t be. This professor used to outrun bike cops on campus for fun. He found it cruel to have to see overweight men of the law degraded to writing tickets to students who didnâ€™t stop at a stop sign.
While Iâ€™m not here to implore anyone to test the physical prowess or endurance of any our out-of-shape bike officers, I would like to congratulate this professor on evading every bike officer for six months, until he was finally caught and severely charged (luckily not for resisting arrest).
I wish I had I known that my fine would be so high, and that my misappropriation and disregard for the rules and regulations of stoplights would cause such an uproar. I would have tested myself against the officerâ€™s speed and most likely would be a little richer than I currently am.
So I cast these words out in hopes that they reach someone before they are met with a similar circumstance, in which they are left to wonder, â€œWhy the hell am I being pulled over by a bicycle?â€
Youâ€™re probably being pulled over because youâ€™re unlucky, and you should probably start apologizing rather than marveling at the whiskers that reside atop the officers lips. Because thatâ€™s what I did, and it left me poorer than I already am.
If there is one thing that everyone in this world can agree upon, itâ€™s that a mustache is something you should try not to encounter.
Adam Suriel-Gestwicki is a junior English major. His column appears in the Collegian every other Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.