queens bridge - oh boy, it happens again. was leaning on the back of the fence separating the 'historical walk' from the one road running around the island, taking this picture over & over trying to get an acceptable exposure, when i hear a voice directly over my shoulder, asking me 'what are you doing, exactly?'
'wellll, taking pictures, walking around'
'taking pictures of what?'
'umm, this bridge. the island. the water. whatever looks neat, i guess'
that's when i turn around to see my interrogator is sitting down at the drivers wheel of a roosevelt island police car. whoa boy, here we go, again.
'is that a professional camera?'
'ah, guess it could be, i mean compared to point-and-shoots. but, no, not really, and i'm pretty far from a professional'
'well, i'm going to have to take your information, you understand. your name, address, all that stuff.'
at that point i looked at him. really looked at him. an older black guy, but something about him gave me a bit of hope. this is going to sound a bit silly, but he had a very gentle, kind look in his eyes, and although he was by definition a small-town cop, he wasn't showing any of that hardass swagger that those guys usually do. still, he had a badge, and lights, and was looking at me as a potential terrorist...
'oh, that's just great. then i get to be put on 'the list''
(had just been reading about how homeland security has 400,000ish (about 10%) of us on a 'watch list', and sometimes ya just don't know til you try to board a plane. am in no hurry to get on it(the list), or at least get extra checkmarks by my name. but reading about it is one thing, and talking about it another, and i even surprised myself, free-associating it out. more surprising was that he knew exactly what i was talking about)
'no, you don't go on the list just yet. we keep your information , and if there's ever a problem, THEN you go on the list and you can expect a call from the fbi'
[i'm guessing that's the unofficial list]
[so THAT'S how it works. good to know. millions of tourists taking millions of pics of nyc bridges, and if there's ever a problem, they'll call on me....]
there followed a funny little uncomfortable silence in which we just looked at each other. then he broke it, asking me if i was a student, you know, why are you out taking pictures. answered no, actually i manage a bookstore. incredibly, his eyes lit up.
'a bookstore. really? which one?'
"barnes & noble"
'wow! where at?'
'86th and lex'
'no kidding. wow. so.....are you going to make a book with your pictures?'
'um, yeah. yeah. that's it. i'm going to make a book. hopefull, if things work out. someday'
'so what do you take pictures of?'
'oh, everything new york. buildings, bridges, weird stuff, you know anything that looks interesting....'
'and you're gonna make a book?'
'well, yeah. hopefully, someday'
he really seemed to like the book idea. don't know if it was the book itself, or if it constituted a good enough reason to let me go. he looked out his windshield at different places, drummed his fingers on the wheel, and started to say a couple things, stopping mid-sentence each time. finally, he managed to spit out
'ok. it's ok. you just go on. ok. ahh, have a good day. you can go...alright'
and zipped off in his car.
to mr. policeman, whereever you are - i don't mind that you stopped and talked to me, you were just doing the job that apparently we want you to, and communication is a good thing. and thank you! for having the cojones to use your common sense and not pplug my name into some huge database somewhere (i can probably do that myself just fine, typing this).