It seems only fitting that on the eve of a massive meeting between the Madison press corps and the belligerently tight-lipped Madison Police Department to discuss means of furthering our cooperation, I should run afoul of some boys in blue. And it's no secret that I have been pulled over more often than any body has a right to in my seven years as a licensed driver, but tonight takes the cake in terms of the absurd.
As I mentioned, early tomorrow morning (actually, this morning, as it's now well after midnight) is the scheduled kaffee klatch between reporters and cops. This is something I've been very eager to attend, as it's well documented I feel Madison police should be more forthcoming about the details in their higher profile crimes (see any entry on the subject of Brittany Zimmermann or Joel Marino).
Seeing as it will be an early morning, I cut out from my Tuesday night regulars a little early tonight. We're still in the process of looking for a new Tuesday night hangout since the Angelic closed down, so we've been using Bacon Tuesdays at Wando's as a crutch until we find a bar with suitable beer specials, bar food and atmosphere.
In the name of gas economy and easy parking, I prefer to take my motorcycle when I'm out on Tuesday. I never drink enough to make operating a two-wheeled vehicle a concern, so it's not been an issue. Except, apparently, I've been breaking the law all along.
I pulled out onto University Avenue and immediately caught a red light at Lake Street. I watched as a pair of bicycle cops pedalled across the intersection, then turned, looked at me and put up their hands. I wasn't sure if it was a salutation, a command to stop or a "Dude... nice ride." I've gotten all three before.
The light turned green, and I crossed the intersection tentatively, waiting to see if there was any further response from the heat-packing Livestrongers. Just when I thought I was off scott-free and gunned it, a shrill whistle pierced the night air. I knew I should have drilled out the baffles to make my pipes louder.
Reluctantly, I pulled over and weighed my circumstances. I had consumed approximately a pound of bacon and one-and-a-half PBRs at Wando's after batting clean-up when Emma didn't want to polish hers off. I was sober enough to do cartwheels or recite the alphabet backwards, if I was capable of doing either of those things sober.
I won't lie, it's a little awkward to be the guy on a motorcycle pulled over by two geeks on bicycles on a major urban thoroughfare. I was almost relieved when the UWPD Paddy Wagon pulled up flashing lights as backup because it made me look like less of a sucker. In hindsight, I probably could have ratcheted back the throttle and left Officer Aaron Chapin, his Schwinn and his neon yellow polo in the dust, but I honestly think curiosity just got the better of me.
Turns out, my crime was eye protection -- I wasn't wearing any. Furthermore, as Chapin explained it to me, my continued travel down the public right-of-way constituted enough of a threat to safety -- the public's and my own -- that he would let me off with a warning, but he couldn't in good conscience let me ride the remaing mile to my house.
As he so eloquently put it, "A block from here, a big bug could fly into your eye and you could go down right there."
By this point, my mouth was hanging so far agape, a pterodactyl could have flown into it while I was riding and choked me to death. So it was probably for the better that I swallowed my pride, nodded, said "yes sir," and walked home.
So I take away three morals from this story, one of which the officers intended for me to take. 1) is that I need some eye protection when I'm riding my bike. I actually had a good pair of protective lenses, but some douche-rocket stole them out of my saddle bag. 2) is that, under any circumstances, there is no damn reason to pull over for a bicycle cop while driving a motor vehicle. And then there's 3) which is basically that Madison has so many police officers they get bored on Tuesday nights.
It's an hour and fifteen minutes past when I meant to get to bed, thanks in large part to the half-hour-plus it took me to walk home, get eye protection and get back to my bike on Uni Ave.
Oh, and to top everything off, I stepped in dog shit on the way home.