New York’s Fine Enough…
February 8, 2008
Celebrating the historic victory of the New York Football Giants was the order of the day. The event – The ticker-tape parade; the place – the Canyon of Heroes. Except I, the doctor, arrived entirely too late (because I waited to meet up with my roommate) and was forced to peer down a side street and watch the parade pass me by from an entire avenue away. Many of us in the crowd were forced to commiserate and beg and plead with the New York City policemen manning (!) the barricades that kept us from getting closer. However, a few officers were allowing fellow cops and their families to get by provided they showed some identification. They also allowed firefighters, those who had served in the military and a variety of other people who had the right story to tell. “I have to go visit my friend on this block. Let me make up a building and apartment number.” They fell for some and refused to budge on others.
Standing between the three people in my group (me, my roommate, his friend) and getting right up close to this momentous event 17 years in the making was Officer Kozlowski. Pretty early on, before all of these exceptions were being made, my roommate thought to show his ID which showed him to be a fully paid member of the Port Washington, LI, Fire Department. “We’ll see,” we were told. We tried again much later after a few others had gotten through, this time in tandem with my 2008 NYCPBA (Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association) card courtesy of my good friend from college who is a NYC cop. Still, no dice.
I was torn. I did not want to pester this young man as so many of the loud, obnoxious New Yorkers around me did. Many were rude to him, cursing about how unfair it was that fans did not get to support their team. “These men have a difficult job,” I said to myself and to my friends. “I respect their authority and I understand that they can’t just let anyone and everyone through. It would incredibly dangerous to do so and they’re just following their orders.”
Despair set in and we lost hope. However, in the crucial minutes before the parade itself and the Vince Lombardi trophy passed by, a New Jersey firefighter and his group were let past as was a group of young people, younger than us, who flashed a PBA card as well, except a 17-20 year old young lady was the one who wielded it. I saw this happen. I locked eyes with Officer Kozlowski. He immediately looked away. He didn’t dare stare at me, the proof of his hypocrisy, right in the face.
I am neither a crybaby nor overly emotional. I’m a bleeding heart liberal who believes that any misfortune that befalls me must be kept in perspective and that so many have things so much worse. “This should be the least of my problems,” I reason. I acquiesce, it’s just what I do. But I can not help but feel this was different. Perhaps the truth is really perspectival. This young officer saw me with no Giants jersey on and assumed that because I was not wearing construction boots and a moustache that I was not truly a New York Giants fan, or was somehow not deserving. He had the power to decide my viewing fate and he knew it, and it is exactly because I did not make a fuss that he got away with his bullshit. We invest a certain amount of authority in cops because we recognize that their jobs are difficult and dangerous (I stole that line from American History X by the way) but maybe sometimes there are individual cops who are on a power trip or feel like being arbitrary because they can.
I will always respect cops and their authority and be a law abiding citizen. I will always listen to their instructions because I believe in their training and that ultimately they have my safety in mind. But that doesn’t mean that some of them aren’t assholes. I got a taste, albeit very small and in the grand scheme of things innocuous, of what it feels like to be profiled. Well you can eat my ass P.O. Kozlowski. I’m a huge Giants fan that’s pissed off about missing out on what should have been an unforgettable experience.