Jul 012010

It’s not really an unknown fact that I frequent several of the cemeteries around Pittsburgh nearly every day. Cemeteries are my favorite places to jog, to have some peace, to just be. Henry, finally realizing that he receives less bitching/nagging phone calls on days that I get to go on these cemetery runs, has been making concessions to enable me to take a break from Chooch and go to my happy place.

The one I went to yesterday morning is the more deserted of the handful of area graveyards I’ve claimed as second homes. Occasionally, there might be a maintenance man here and there, driving around on his mower, making my skin crawl with the promise of rape. But it’s very rare that I encounter any human life form other than the type that stinks of sweat, gasoline, and molestation.

So imagine, as I stood outside my car all a’pretzel in my pre-run stretches, the fear that ricocheted off my heart when I heard a wet snuffling approaching to my left. It was accompanied by a frenzied panting interspersed with grunts and a soft jangling of chains. I caught a quick glimpse of a shock of black hair.

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Ducking behind my car, my first thoughts were:

  • Someone is taking their Team Jacob idol-worship way too seriously
  • This sounds akin to Henry, being released from a cage after being fed nothing but porn and Pop Rocks for a week. (They used to do that to him in the SERVICE!)
  • I am about to witness my first zombie and I hope to god it’s not a child one but I think it’s really going to be a child one

It was a dog. Just some black dog being walked by a girl in (really short) yellow shorts. I laughed a little to myself and began the very scientific process of applying my suntan oil. But my heart never really had the chance to recover from its WE ARE ABOUT TO DIE NOW Indian drum beat; a cop car coasted up behind me as I was making sure I had ample coverage on the back of my neck.

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The car slowed its a pace a little as it became parallel with me and my car, then it made the first right, crawling slowly, gravel crunching and twigs cracking beneath its wheels amplified in my paranoia-filled head.

I have a strong dislike for cops. Some might say I even HATE them, but let’s pretend there might be a cop reading this who isn’t a complete fucker and I will try to remain unbiased. But cops and me? We’ve got a pretty storied past.

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I was expecting him to turn right onto one of the smaller arteries that would lead him back out of the cemetery, but instead, he turned around so he was perpendicular to my parked car, and backed up into the shadows where the road is cut off by a guardrail. (The rest of that road is crumbling down a hillside. I like to walk on it because I am THAT dangerous.)

“OK, he’s turning around,” I thought, and then realized if that were the case, he’d be driving right past my car in a way where my OUT OF DATE inspection stickers would be visible. So I’m trying to be all casual about this, all “Doo do dooo,” walking stiffly to the front of my car and laying my sun tan lotion and water bottle across the expired stickers with the motion of a robot up to no good.

And then I ran away.

I tried to shake it off, to stop looking like I had a body stowed in my trunk (because who would be at home watching Chooch if that were the case), and proceeded to just enjoy my time in the cemetery. I was down in the lower section, Dance Gavin Dance keeping me all motivated, when I started to ascend a hill and noticed that the cop car was still parked in that dead-end corner. I shook it off again, and lost sight of it for awhile.

But then I came up one of the paths that was parallel to where he was parked, but lower so that I couldn’t see the car just yet. I’m walking along this path and my mind starts churning. I start wondering if there’s something going down. The four main cemeteries I like to walk in are all smack in the middle of the North Side, which is not the best area in Pittsburgh. At all. What if I’m about to be an innocent bystander in some sting operation gone awry? Would I even be able to hear the gun shots with headphones on and one bad ear? (My right ear is in the middle of A Saga right now. This morning I actually looked for a doctor before giving up after five minutes!)

Finally, the path I was on intersected right in front of the cop car. I turned a quick right so that I was walking away from the cop. I could feel that I was wearing my shoulders as earrings, which is typical “Erin is nervous/guilty/tense” fashion. My arms were locked at my sides. I looked less like I was on a casual jog through the cemetery and more like I was being escorted to the gas chamber.

Act casual, act casual, act casual. The more thought I put into it, the more I walked like some leg-braced orphan from 1935.

This particular cemetery isn’t that big, so I inevitably had to be near him again. But this time, I was more curious than frightened, so I pulled my headphones off, perched my sunglasses on my head so he could see my eyes and not feel inspired to shoot, and approached the drivers side of the car with purpose.

And then I spoke to him. It went exactly like this:

Me, in a tone that sounded kind of bitchy even though it wasn’t my intent: “AM I OK BEING HERE?” Seriously, nervous situations make my octave raise involuntarily. I’m a walking suspect.

Him, smiling (OMG cops smile??): “You’re fine. I’m just sitting here reading a book until I get my next call.” He gestured at the big red hardback propped against the steering wheel. He didn’t appear to have a tattered copy of Hustler tucked inside the pages, either. (OMG cops READ??)

Me, laughing nervously, fidgeting with the wires of my headphones, practically asking to be arrested: “OK I WAS JUST MAKING SURE, YOU WERE FREAKING ME OUT (COME SEARCH MY CAR NOW I SWEAR I DON’T HAVE 48956 KILOS AND A DEAD MEXICAN IN A TARP)!”

And then we both laughed. I turned stiffly on my heel and stalked away.

How refreshing! A cop who was not only pleasant, but reading a BOOK and not a menu at a donut joint. The first thing I noticed about him was that he bore a striking resemblance to Eric Van der Woodsen from “Gossip Girl.” Also, he didn’t have that perma-sneer marring his mug like most cops do. (Are they born that way, or do they learn that shit at the Academy?) I never thought I’d see the day that I not only exchanged pleasantries with a police officer, but I shared my haven with one.

Me, little old Oh Honestly, Erin, had a conversation with a cop that didn’t involve Tourettes-level cursing and end with a fat fine.

I did a few more laps. He was still sitting back there reading as I got ready to leave. When I drove away, I beeped two staccato “goodbyes” to him, and then giddily laughed at the fact that I acted like a real person in front of a cop and not some daughter of a fallen Mafia don out for vengeance.

I wish I had asked him what book he was reading. It was probably just some library copy of Twilight.

  27 Responses to “A Conversation with a Cop”

  1. Do you know Uniondale Cemetery? My wife grew up on Matson Street (up Marshall from Brighton Road past Presly Ridge, down Hawkins, right on Matson). Her backyard was the cemetery. Her grandmother is buried there and she spent a lot of time running and playing guitar and talking to her grandmother there.

    • Uniondale is my favorite. I like the smaller of the three, the one that sits on the opposite side of the road by itself.

      What’s the one that’s on that road but isn’t technically a part of Uniondale? I always get creepy sensations at that one.

      • According to the map, there’s Uniondale, which appears to cross both Marshall and Brighton, right next to Uniondale off of Brighton (north) is Highwood and then further down Brighton and up Bascom is Rosedale. Gonna try to send you the Google link:

        Pittsburgh, PA

      • It cut the link. I was afraid of that. If you google Pittsbrgh, find the north side and zoom in, it gives the names.

        • Yep, Highwood is the one that creeps me out. But yeah, I go to the Uniondale ones nearly every day. And if not those ones, then Homewood. I’m sort of a cemetery junkie.

          • My wife would understand. I’m more fond of rails to trails. Back when I was training for a marathon, Nancy dropped me off at Smithton and met me hours later at Boston on the Mon Yough Trail. To each his own!

          • That’s impressive! I’m not sure I’d ever have enough stamina for a marathon. I have tons of respect for those that can hack it.

  2. Oh, BTW: I used to be a medic. Most of the cops are actually good folk trying to do their best–and they read, run marathons, love horses, eat breakfast at diners that serve delicious heart-killing food, learn CPR from paramedic instructors and, unfortunately, leave behind family and friends when someone murders them.

    Yeah, they can be scary–it’s safer for them when they are, I think. And yeah, some should be imprisoned for abusing their authority. But most are really good folks and a couple of them are the only reason I’m still alive. I guess that does tend to bias one…

  3. When I was 21/22 I worked at a family restaurant that had a large parking lot. The dinner crowd was almost all cops and truckers. A couple of the cops used to time their dinner breaks for 8 p.m. on Monday nights because on that night me and the manager would close up an hour early and watch Melrose Place while we cleaned. They’d come in, order, we’d lock the doors and all watch trashy TV together while we bullshitted.

    The nicest things were the truckers and cops would always watch me until I was safely in my car. If anyone tried anything with me they would have been at the bottom of a pile-up in seconds. And I would have never had a speeding ticket while working there. I used to get warnings about speeding stings with specific instructions on exactly where to slow down and when. Working class guys take care of the women who feed them! ;)

  4. Omg my legs totally do the orphan leg brace thing when I’m nervous too. I hate it! Like how nonchalant is that, gimping around like Forrest Gump!

    I have a theory about shitty cops. Having worked with a few security guards, I can recognize the ones who are hoping to be cops one day from a mile away. It’s like they carry this huge chip on their shoulder because they are supposed to be ‘controlling the situation’ or whatever but they have NO real authority. They get used to trying to intimidate people by talking down to them or getting into their face. Imagine you’ve spent the last five years getting Slurpees thrown at you and people calling you rent-a-cop, and you just swallow that down inside until you’re NOT a fake cop anymore, instead of just a walkie-talkie now you have a GUN! Go ahead and make fun of me now, punks! For serious, I’ve seen these types as security guards, it’s in the way they carry themselves. Raging assholes. I know there are good cops out there because one time this old guy at one of the neighbourhood stations let me go because I rear-ended a car and then didn’t make an accident report until like two months later. Turns out you only have 30 days. So him and my boyfriend made fun of me and he let me go. :p Oh and there’s this super hot cop who is the one who does all the talking to the media when something’s going on, he looks like a nice guy! And I’m really HOPING the cop I have to make a statement to in a few weeks is a nice guy *fingers crossed* Other than that… *shrug*

    • I hope you get a nice cop, too!

      I’ve had two good experiences with cops and because of all the negative, traumatic ones, it makes me appreciate the good ones that much more!

      When I was younger, Sharon (before she was Crazy Aunt) taught me: Never let a cop see you cry.
      And I never have, either! No matter how infuriated I am! THEY WILL NEVER GET MY TEARS!

  5. I luv going to cemetarys too. Not the ones around here. The OLD looking ones with the huge trees that you see shadows everywhere. My fav is Columbia. Maybe a trip there is needed!

  6. hot cop that reads
    where was my txt informing me of his whereabouts omg so rude

  7. I wish we had a small cemetary nearby. There was a beautiful one in my hometown — you brought back some memories for me. I don’t have cop phobia, but an ex of mine did. Going anywhere with him was a challenge, because the moment a cop car appeared we needed to make some circuitous route to get away from the cop and then back toward our destination. Basically needed to add 10 minutes to any estimate of how long it would take us to get somewhere.

    • Ha! My boyfriend isn’t a cop-phobe, but he’s notorious for letting the inspection expire and then taking MTHS to get it squared away. So we often have to take detours too, for fear of a cop spotting the stickers. It’s so annoying.

  8. Oooh, cemeteries freak me out! I’m not sure I could exercise in one…but that is cool the cop was reading. Maybe that was his way of getting away from things and just going somewhere quiet. But still, that would have freaked me out, too…

    • Especially because it was a city cop and all the ones I’ve run into around here have been really mean!

      I choose cemeteries because they’re usually so dead (oh ho ho!) – I’m too self-conscious to jog in a park where people might see me, oh noes! Haha!

  9. I’m a runner too (um, ok, obviously). I like cemetaries and have run in them before, but it’s been a while. Sometimes I can get a little jumpy when running, particularly around dusk.
    Oh yeah, I came over from Mom Loop.

  10. It may be quiet, but I don’t know if I could jog in a cementery.That would mean I would have to run. I don’t run well. Stopping from Mom Loop.
    Have a great weekend!

  11. my brother in law is a cop!lol…hi from mom loop :)Have a great weekend!

  12. Um is it just me or is everyone missing the point that this was a funny fucking post?

  13. And a great story! I’ve mostly had experiences with the not so nice kind of cop, the kind who, even when you’ve been in an accident & the other driver is clearly at fault, still treat you like dirt. I’m pretty sure they don’t read & mostly hang out at Denny’s, when they’re not at donut shops…
    Stopping by from the BlogFrog Follow Friday to say hi

  14. “This sounds akin to Henry, being released from a cage after being fed nothing but porn and Pop Rocks for a week. (They used to do that to him in the SERVICE!)”


    I agree with you about spending time in cemeteries. I used to walk in “mine” daily and enjoyed it very much.

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