cops: in historic ypsilanti

Linette and I had to call the cops just now. It was the first time weve had to do that since we moved been back to Ypsi from Los Angeles, almost five years ago. It all started innocently enough. Wed gone out for a stroll with the baby, across town and to the food co-op. It was a beautiful night and Linette said that she was craving a glass of milk. (I guess dispensing milk all day and not getting any yourself must begin to take a psychological toll after a while.) Well, we were almost home after an hour of really good quality family time, complete with singing and dancing. The sun was coming down and we were talking about having a glass of wine on the porch… And thats when I noticed what I thought was a guy standing next to Linettes car, an African-American guy that was probably about 510. I quickened my pace a bit and noticed another guy sitting in the drivers seat. I wondered for a second whether it was possible that Linettes car had been towed since we left and a new car had parked in its place, but then I decided it was pretty unlikely. I yelled, Hey, and began moving more quickly toward them. It was at that point, in the immediate aftermath of my scream, that two things happened, the man in the car started pulling himself out and the baby, which Id forgotten was strapped to my chest, began screaming her head off. By the time I realized that the baby was with me, I was probably about a dozen feet away from them, with absolutely no idea what I was going to do when I got there.

It was at that point that I also noticed Linettes voice coming form behind me, yelling, Mark, stop. Youre wearing the baby. I stopped. I just stood there, staring at them. Looking back on it, it seems that they were moving pretty slowly, but I think thats just because my adrenaline was spiking and time was becoming compressed. It seems like I was standing there for at least a minute, just silently watching them and bouncing Clementine up and down, as they sauntered away. As they were leaving, I remember one saying something like, I told you that wasnt his car, implying, I guess, that they were just out to pick up a friends car and happened into my wifes by accident. I think I laughed at that. Clementine, I think, had stopped crying by then too.

In the whole scheme of things it wasnt that bad. The guys, who were probably only about 17 or 18, were probably just walking up and down the street, trying door handles and looking to steal CDs. (Linette thinks that she may have left her door unlocked and it didnt look to me as though there was any tampering with the lock.) And, nothing was missing. We must have walked up just a moment after the one guy had gotten in.

So, we called the cops, just in case there had been other crimes in the area. While I hadnt seen them that well (their backs were to me almost the whole time), it occurred to me that a partial description might be useful in case theyd committed other crimes this evening. The cop who came out was nice enough. He basically said that my description of, two black teenagers dressed in black was useless (which I knew), and that it was pretty much our fault for not locking our doors (which I also knew). He also cautioned me against approaching criminal types in the future, with our without an infant strapped to my chest.

I hesitate to post this because I know that some are going to see it as further evidence that Ypsi is a cesspool that we should flee immediately, but it didnt seem right to just ignore it the way I did the last police call I know I said up front that I hadnt called the police in the last five years, but there was one other instance a few months ago. That incident didnt take place at our house though, so I dont think it counts. On that occasion, I called the police after passing a house on one of my aimless little walks though the city and hearing something disturbing through an open window facing the street. I heard an older man yelling at what sounded like a sobbing woman. The phrase I heard, very distinctly, was a forceful, Now, choke yourself! I was concerned that I might be violating some kind of ACLU code of privacy ethics by calling the cops, but I couldnt in good conscience just walk away after hearing that. The thought also crossed my mind that they could be rehearsing some king of play, or perhaps even playing some kind fucked-up sex game, but I thought that the odds were pretty slim. (Our friend Wanda once called the cops after hearing a loud argument between the people in the apartment next to hers (also in Ypsi), only to find a sign posted in the hallway the next day, by the couple, telling the busybodies who called the cops that they were just rehearsing Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf.) I wanted to blog about that, but I decided to just shut up about it. It seemed exploitative, and I didnt want to use the creepiness factor to get more people to my site. (Walking down a sunlit street and then out of nowhere hearing an old man growl, Now choke yourself! is like waking up inside a David Lynch film. Its like finding a human ear.)

So, thats the end of the story. One minute we were a happy little family strolling around like its 1905, me with the baby and Linette with the glass bottle of milk, walking up to our late 1800s home, and the next Im standing in the street telling a cop about the two men that Clementine and I almost attacked. The whole thing makes me sad. I hate being robbed, and I hate that kids would be so stupid as to take a chance like that, in broad daylight, with people around. And for what? Is getting a couple of Beth Orton CDs, that youd never ever be sell to anyone you know, really worth getting a police record for? Its depressing.

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One Comment

  1. Mark
    Posted September 21, 2004 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    The stupidity is depressing, the shortsightedness of it. It’s a simple equation: risk vs. reward. You should have a handle on it by the time you’re six years old and these guys didnt have it by 18. If theyd been busted while in the car, it would have most likely been for attempted theft of the vehicle. Thats not shoplifting. Fucking stupid sons-of-bitches. Its like those fucking kids in Detroit last week that shot the elderly deacon after hed already given them his car. Committing murders always wrong, Im not suggesting its ever right, but for a 80 year old mans 20 year old car? Is that what you want to spend your life in prison for?

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