Hits 1447 | Created 2004-07-16 | Modified 2007-05-16
Hands up who likes the police?
Come on, no-one's looking, you can admit it if you like? No? Any real reason for this dislike?
Well, I'll admit that I've had a few (relatively) harmless run-ins with the police in this lifetime, some of them a little too risqué to detail here, but at least one is a good example of why I have a deep-seated mistrust of even the jolliest and best-intentioned of cops.
How is this connected to Montreal, I hear you cry? Well, it isn't directly – I wanted to write a story about the police here, and realised that it would be skewed by my lack of objective thought, and so I thought you might like to hear my police story first.
So, I used to work in a London pub called The Standard, which at the time was a rather lively rock venue and home to numerous punks who would order snakebite and black in huge quantities. The stories I could tell about the manager of the pub alone would fill a website, so, just to give you a taste of the man he was, here's a quickie:
The manager is wandering, drunkenly back from the stage (where he has just interrupted in the middle of some poor band's act to play five minutes of harmonica solo, which he loved to do after a few drinks), when he spies a punk peddling LSD tabs in the corner.
He approaches and says to the youth, 'I don't want you selling that shit in my bar...'
The youth just stares at him, wondering if he should run or not.
So the manager goes on, '...I wouldn't mind if it was good shit, but it's not, is it? There's no good LSD any more... And I don't want you selling that shit in my pub.'
The youth thinks this over, and says, 'It's not shit, it's really good.'
'Oh yeah?' The manager, a burly and large man, leans over him, and grabs the sheet of tabs.
He then stuffs the whole sheet into his mouth and starts chewing.
'If they're so good,' he says, between chews, 'then come back and see me in half an hour, and if I'm off my head, then you can sell your stuff in here. Alright?'
'Err, okay.' Says the youth, and disappears through a fire exit.
The barstaff, and his wife, look at the manager, dubiously. Someone raises the question that's on all our minds – 'What if it is good after all?'
'Well,' he muses, 'it'll be an interesting night, won't it?'
About half an hour later he stumbles towards the door that leads upstairs, 'I'm just going for a lie down,' he whispers.
So, in this bar, I'm sure you have a good picture now, I'm drinking on my night off, and I get talking to some guy at the bar. He's okay, and buys me a drink, I think he's a bit straight, but nice enough.
'Ah,' he says, 'you like me now, but if I tell you what I do for a living, you won't want to know me any more.'
'Oh yeah?' I say, 'Try me.'
He sighs, 'I'm a copper.'
'Ah,' I say, and stare into my pint.
'That's the problem,' he tells me, 'that's why coppers and the youth are so alienated – how can I be friends with people like you if you won't even give it a chance. You know, when I'm off duty, I'm off duty, I don't care if you smoke pot or drink-drive.'
'Really?' I ask, doubtfully.
'Yeah, and I like to drink, get drunk, go to parties, chase girls, like any bloke. It'd be so much better for our community if we all understood each other more. I've got this idea where we could take people out on patrol with us – the youth, you know, like you, so you could see what we do. Closer integration, it's the future, for sure.'
I think he has a good point. The bar is closing, so I offer to take him around to the late night section where incredibly loud bands play until 2am, for free. He accepts and once around there we stand at the bar, drink more beer and talk about how great the future will be with the youth and cops trusting each other.
Then it happens. The event that killed my faith in cops evermore.
Why, against the bar of course...
I stare, for a few seconds, at him splashing away merrily. I can't quite believe my eyes. It's very busy, but no-one else seems to have noticed yet.
'What the hell are you doing?' I shout.
He looks at me, with disdainful eyes, 'I'm pissing. I can't be bothered to go to the bathroom.'
I walk away and find the manager.
'There's a drunk copper pissing against your bar,' I say, matter-of-factly.
'There's a what?!' He screams, and runs over...
Now, I know what you're going to say – one bad cop doesn't mean they're all bad. Yes, perhaps, but once bitten, twice shy, that's what I say...
On the other hand, I'm mellowing towards cops in Montreal, as I've had no bad experiences with them, yet. They even rescued me (see London Pub) from drunken lost-ness once. I've asked them for directions to places, and they've told me. I've been to parties where they arrived at 4am, and didn't ask everyone to go home.
Now, perhaps, given time... if one asks me to have a pint with him...