The Time Mookie Received Some Advice From The Baltimore Police Department
If you remember my previous story about Baltimore (HERE), you will recall that I shared the city's incredibly high crime rates, and the definite possibility of becoming a rape/stabbing/shot crime statistic if you aren't careful. I should also mention that I was UNAWARE of this situation during my first work trip to this fine city. However thanks in part to a member of the Baltimore Police Department, I was able to avoid a potentially harmful situation one evening and live to see another day. What happened? Read on my friends.
With all my meetings done one particular day, I had already set off on foot around much of the Inner Harbor part of the city. I had walked clear out to Westminster Hall to see Edgar Allan Poe, then went clear down to Camden Yards to see the baseball stadium. As it was getting dark, I figured I should probably make my way back to the hotel and settle in for the night. However, once I got back to the room I instantly became bored. The problem with this is when I'm bored......I like to eat. Luckily for me I remembered that I saw a 7/11 store front down a few blocks from the hotel while I was out walking, so I decided I would head over there and pick up some essentials for the evening: soda, licorice, chips, and peanut butter cups. All on the corporate card of course.
When I reached the street where the 7/11 was, I heard and saw a lot of commotion going on up the street a ways. As it was dark I couldn't see much, so I hustled across the traffic and into the store. When I began to enter the store, I met and held the door for a female member of the Baltimore Police Department who was walking out. I said "hello" as she passed, to which she looked at me and confusedly said "hello" back. I thought it was odd she acted that way, but figured there probably wasn't a lot of people that said hello to the cops.
I went about my business and picked up all of the essentials that I mentioned before. Upon checking out and exiting the store, I immediately saw the police officer I met walking into the store - just standing in front of the store on the corner. I also quickly noticed she was paying quite a bit of visual attention to a huge gathering of "fellows" that had appeared on the corner on the other side of the street. Without going into specifics, it is easy to say I quickly became a "minority" on the street if you know what I"m saying. Based on the noise they were making, I quickly surmised that they were probably the source of the noise and commotion I heard before. I also realized that in order to walk straight back to my hotel....I would need to cross the street and walk PAST these gentlemen. Now....I'm a stupid white guy from the Midwest and everything.....but I'm not stupid enough to know that might not be a smart move. I stopped on the corner, and thought for a split-second and decided that I would cross the street to my right, and walk a block down. You know...instead of walking past this group. As I stood and waited for the light to change, I looked over at the lady cop who was still there monitoring the activities on the corner. She must have gathered what I intended to do - probably based on the direction I was pointing. She looked at me, looked up the street at the mass of people, looked across the street where I was pointing and smiled. Then she nodded her head in the direction opposite of the rowdy crowd and uttered the words: "If I was you, I'd keep walking."
"Yep." was all I could muster. The light changed and I proceeded across the street in the opposite direction of the rowdy crowd, and walked the extra block down and around until I got back to my hotel. Once I got back to my room, I had to laugh at the predicament I was just in. I also figured that the cop could tell in about 2.2 seconds I "wasn't from around there." Especially since I said "hi" to her.
So while she the lady officer didn't "save" me, it was nice to know she was looking out for me that night. So be careful when you are out and about in new and unfamiliar places this summer.
And make sure to say "hi" to a cop. Most of 'em are nice people and will help you out.