To whom it may concern:
Midnight (or thereabouts) is my favorite part of the day to be outside. The hordes of sweaty bodies and the slave-driving sun give way to solitude and a cool night breeze. I can run, walk, and think uninterrupted, simply enjoying the outdoors without any of the bother associated with daytime in an enormous, densely-populated city. It follows, then, that this is my favorite time to go for a jog and get in my daily exercise. I’ve been jogging the same route for nearly two weeks now, and have never felt unsafe or endangered in any way. That is, until tonight.
You see, tonight I was a victim of harassment. Not by “gangs” (you will understand the quotes momentarily), but by “police officers” (these quotes are simply meant to be sarcastic). Allow me to elaborate.
I was on the midpoint of my jogging route, which takes me from my apartment to the shore of Lake Michigan, and down the jogging/biking trail that runs parallel to Lakeshore Drive. I like this trail because the nighttime view of the lake is pleasant, and the air is refreshing. My thus-far enjoyable jog was suddenly interrupted by a police vehicle obstructing my view of the lake as it pulled up alongside me. I removed my earphones.
“Son, it’s a little early for a jog, isn’t it?” were the first words that I heard from the mouth of the officer in the passenger’s seat. There were two officers (per standard), whom I will refer to from now on as “Officer Shit-for-brains” (the driver) and “Officer Cockbreath.” After all, our relationship, forged in but a few brief moments, is obviously one in which condescending nicknames are completely acceptable.
As a brief aside, no, this officer was not my father. My actual father was also a police officer, but he died in the line of duty while investigating an actual crime. Not once do I remember him calling me “son.” I also don’t remember him harassing me on a midnight jog, but maybe those are just rose-tinted glasses I’m wearing.
Back to the query at hand: yes, Officer Cockbreath, I suppose it was a bit early for a run. That would explain the lack of other people running, which in turn would explain my desire to run at this hour. Running alone in the middle of the night is far more enjoyable to me than bumping shoulders with an endless stream of sweaty, smelly men and women competing for space on the trail, but I already explained this in the introductory paragraph. More interesting at this point is the fact that you are driving your vehicle on a trail intended for bikers and joggers. This would be illegal for anybody else, but you are the law, so it’s cool to see that you aren’t afraid to break a few rules every now and then.
Of course, polite individual that I am, none of these thoughts found their way past my lips. What I responded with instead was “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that the jogging trail had hours of operation. There are no such hours posted on any sign.” These statements are both true. Officer Shit-for-brains gave me the stink-eye from behind the wheel, but his mouthpiece, Officer Cockbreath, took the lead with the response. “You’re not supposed to be out here until 5:30. There are gangs around.”
I’m going to pause for effect here.
Alright, pause over: there is so much stupid in that response. First, in what sense is a public jogging trail actually closed if there are no gates and no signs indicating hours of operation? Second, isn’t it your job, Officer, to prevent gangs from strolling about and bothering innocent people? Wouldn’t the excuse that “there are gangs around” reflect poorly on your ability to do your job? After twelve days of running this same exact route, I have scarcely seen another person, let alone a gang of them. And I have the sneaking suspicion that a gang down at the lake shore would have far less interest in harassing me than you seem to, Officer.
Of course, that’s nothing compared to Officer Cockbreath’s next gem of wisdom: “Why don’t you take your jog onto the street? You can’t be here for another three hours.”
Holy. Shit. An officer of the law literally told me to stop running on a trail specifically designated for running and biking, and to instead run on a path intended solely for automobiles. Of course, running on Lakeshore Drive (the location the officer gestured to when he delivered this little bon mot) with its speedy drivers, high traffic and lack of sidewalks is certainly safer than running on a jogging trail. After all, at least those drivers are where they should be, and not driving down a fucking bike trail that is not intended for vehicle use, right Officer?
In any case, I’m comforted to know that the fine police officers of the Chicago P.D. are working hard to cure the symptoms of the disease that is gang violence, with no interest in eliminating the cause. After all, if you idiots actually managed to do something right, I’d have a lot more to start worrying about. For instance, “How am going to spend the several hundred dollars of my paycheck that are no longer being wasted on an ineffectual police force?”
The point of this letter? Maybe you need to focus a bit more on punishing the criminals for committing crimes, and focus less on punishing civilians for expecting you to actually do your jobs.