Look, I’m for stealing as much as the next guy. You need only survey Sports Casualties’ heavily-pirated image collection to discern as much. But, dammit Gainesville, get a hold of your freaking crime before I start writing chastising posts about your petty thieves and lazy-ass police officers.
Oops. Too late.
Now I’m from Miami, so I know what it’s like to have to steer clear of shady back alleys or any locale with a “historical” designation. I’m looking at you, All Streets South of Red and 64th…
Laundromats and sunny public parks, on the other hand, should be fair game for, uh, you know, non-mugging. So you can imagine my surprise over the weekend when I narrowly avoided not one, but three surefire encounters with gruesome death.
Okay, slight exaggeration. But I did part with a few bucks and chased wildly after some dude who absconded with my favorite Gator cap. The following is a dramatic reenactment…
Thursday night brought with it both the promise of hipster glory on downtown Main Street and the nagging suspicion that foregoing another laundry run would result in rampant mold growth. With the fate of my gym shorts hanging in the balance, I packed up the decaying basket of threads in my closet and headed down to the laundromat at 16th Ave. and S. Main. The one next to the Gun and Pawn.
Upon my arrival at this institution cleverly named “Laundromat,” I pop some coins in a washer, load my finest undershirts, sequester myself at an empty corner table and nod my head to the classic sounds of Ludacris’ “My Chick Bad” blaring from a chromed-out Impala in the parking lot.
I then proceed to whip out my iPod (bad move) and my laptop (worse move) to knock out an hour of homework while my skinny jeans shrink to perfection. It was about this time that a rather gigantic, rather unkempt man descends upon my carved-out workspace armed with the pickup line, “You look like a blessed man.”
We get to talking. I’m a grad student. He’s on the road to enlightenment. I’m just trying to do my laundry. He hates Cuban people (“all racists”). I say, white people aren’t so bad, right? He’s says he’s half white, so no, we’re okay. I pack up my books. He eyes my backup and asks if he’s bothering me.
“Hell no!” I say, as the blood drains from my fingertips and my cheeks go pale. I freaking love talking to huge, homeless, deranged men! How are the wife and kids?
Why, you ask, didn’t I just grab my stuff and bolt? Great idea, but his shirtless white-trash friend with a jagged scar running the length of his torso was a serious impediment, especially since he was leaning on my chair from behind. I’m pretty sure this dude was a Hell’s Angels vet and probably responsible for half the deaths at Altamont. So… mmmmm… gulp?
He asks me if I have any money, to which I say, “Wish I did, sir.” To which he says, “Not just a few bucks?” To which I run through all the possible scenarios of me escaping this predicament by kicking someone in the nuts.
He asks again. I fork over the cash in my wallet (all small bills, about $4 that might’ve looked like more in wad form), say nice to meet you, nod to Hell’s Angel and half-run to my car out front. Came back an hour later for the wet clothes.
Luckily, my fragile psyche was nothing that a sweaty night of indie dancing and cheap beer couldn’t repair. Plus, LeBron went down in flames hours later, so I was more fixated on eating crow than anything. By Friday night, I was making the impossibly humid trek from sorority row to Midtown, otherwise known as Land ‘O Hepatitis and Freshmen.
About three or so minutes into my unassuming walk, I run into a young lad with his fair share of ‘roid acne, backward hat, collared shirt and the hypodermic needle still poking out of his plaid shorts. I nod, as any normal person would when passing another on a sidewalk.
Taking my nod as an attempt on his life and quite obviously threatened by my imposing 5-foot-10-inch stature, he stops dead in his tracks… “WHAT ARE YOU LOOKIN AT!?!”
“Yeah, you know I’ll kick your ass, fa****! Keep walking!”
Dude, just because I’m an attractive male with long hair, tight jeans and prone to wear sunglasses at night doesn’t mean I’m gay.
Of course, I didn’t say that. Hell no. I put my head down and kept walking. Fast forward to Sunday afternoon where I’m doing non-gay things like jogging to angry rock music and thinking about girls. In particular, I’m circling the loop in Tumblin Creek Park right across the street from my apartment.
Since it’s only 110 degrees, I take my hat off so I can get skin cancer on my forehead, too. I toss it against a park bench lining the pond and keep running.
And then I stop and whip a U because, at this point, I’m pretty fu**ing pissed.
Hadn’t gotten 50 feet before one of the guys “napping” under the pavilion hopped his bike, raced to the bench and took off with my most cherished piece of Gator Nation. I yell. Run after him. Mentally prepare for my future “60 Minutes” special: grad student stabbed over $20 cap… He says he didn’t know it was mine. I say, yeah, the hat fairy could’ve left it there.
Just kidding. I took my cap, put my head down and kept walking.
Now I’m quite aware that a string of bad luck briefly shaking me from a cubby hole of privilege and leisurely academia doesn’t prove that Gainesville cops suck epically or even merit a blog post. And, yeah, I know that most people have it way worse and that I’m a pampered baby and yada, yada, yada. But just for the record, here are the G-Ville po-po tactics that drive me to highlight their suckiness after getting near-robbed by chain gangs and homeless dudes.
1) You can always tell that somebody’s ventured 5 mph over the speed limit when a fleet of souped-up Dodge Chargers with raging sirens shoot down three lanes of Archer Road pushing 80 in a 45. Those would be the officers on too much caffeine, with too much horsepower and not enough to do. You’re gonna kill somebody.
2) Following up on No. 1, the campus police – UFPD – without fail travel in packs of two or three for simple traffic stops. You know, in case some buzzed frat kid rocking a .08 pulls a bazooka out of his trunk. And for the love of bike lanes, please slow down. There’s no need for 40 in a 20 zone. You’re gonna catch that scooter doing 23, I promise.
3) “Hey, that delinquent cabbie might have one too many intoxicated bar goers in his back seat. GET HIM!” But seriously, cop, if you yank one kid out of the taxi and slap him with some bull**** fine, he’s probably not gonna pony up for another cab. He’s either going to end up alone in a haze or catching a ride with somebody who’s just as drunk. Come on guys, we already have roam towing screwing us. Now you’re just piling on.
4) You can count on at least one Alligator front page per semester dedicated to a police horse’s assault on a hapless student or vice versa. Hmmm… maybe your towering, 2,000 pound animals call attention to themselves on a crowded street at 2 a.m. on a Thursday. Maybe you could stick to bikes? Maybe I wouldn’t step in a huge pile of horse crap once a month?
5) The GDP produces this fantastic scare-tactic of a TV show called “Police Beat,” which is basically episode after episode of crashing house parties to harass drunk people and end the bright futures of underage drinkers.
6) They’ve arrested half our football team.
Don’t tase him, bro. Okay, tase him. He totally deserves it.
I’m sort of half-kidding, cops. I know you’re not really talking about the new Dunkin’ Donuts on University as you pick off unsuspecting bikers for wearing earbuds. But, come on. Wake up. My best hats are at stake.