I quit long distance running when I was 70. My knees began to ache. As a result I began to feel mortal, more mortal every day since.
Today, one month to the day before my 80th birthday, I came about two feet from never having to worry about being mortal again.
I am not a State Fair person. Crowds bother me, and bother more the older I get. Yet, I look forward to any Minnesota State Fair which is fortunate enough to stage Dennis Prager live directing his radio show on Patriot radio usually on the opening day of the Fair itself. I checked sources. Sources returned confirmation that Dennis was in town and would be leading is show this opening day of the Fair.
Walking isn’t necessarily an easy exercise for folks on the brink of 80. I still work landscaping for regular clients nearly every workday from morning till 3PM. I return home, nap for 30 minutes and then retreat into my own grounds to putz, meaning working at half speed, planting, pruning, transplanting, moving stone, boulders, mulch. I do more on weekends.
I walk in winter routinely every other day to keep ‘fit’. In Spring my walking regimen doesn’t help landscaping fitness much. Likewise, since I don’t walk distances in Summer, landscaping doesn’t make me fit for distance walking in August. Nevertheless, I felt I could walk the five miles from my truck to the Dennis Prager’s Patriot booth and back and that it would be good for me to try.
I came within two feet of losing my life while walking to the Minnesota State Fair this morning.
While walking eastward for a half an hour or so along a busy street which runs past the southern border of the Fair grounds, I was approaching the first semaphore shining a red light against my position, at which more than a dozen huge buses were already exiting the Fair grounds from coming from my Left, all making right hand turns around my right so closely one to another it appeared to be a continuous wall. As I was about to slow my walking pace, the semaphore turned green. There was suddenly a small gap beginning between two buses, the gap suggesting to me that the green light gave me my moment of safe crossing. At this moment of life or death, I saw a uniformed elderly man in front of me but across the street from the marauding buses, waving the ten or still more buses to continue moving, making their turn, one by this time only inches away from my body which still in old age had enough automatic pull back to save me from certain death. If the bus that nearly killed me had bad breath, I smelled it.
I yelled across at the uniformed guy waving the buses through their red light….”What in hell is the green light for? I nearly got killed!”
His answer was aggressive. He yelled something about another uniformed guy in the middle of the intersection directing the buses to take their RIGHT hand turn…..all buses of which made it impossible for me to see anything else as I was approaching the inner section. He intimated I had broken the law by not obeying this traffic officer who was invisible to be seen from the wall of buses.
The aggressive ‘cop’ become more aggressive and snidely yelled at me his name to remember if I had any complaint. Still shook I had been calm enough to respond, “No, you were trying to do your duty.”
I continued on my way to see and hear Dennis present his worthy talk show….but it was not to be. Dennis had flown home without attending the Fair this year.
One the way back to my truck I thought again of the fragility of life and my experience an hour or so earlier. I decided to return to the corner of the scare simply to explain to the ‘cop’ (who had failed to warn me as a pedestrian that I shouldn’t have paid any attention to the green light of the semaphore, but should have pretended it was red in order to allow all of these other buses to move on) that I had nearly lost my life.
I saw him at the corner but wasn’t so sure it was he. He pretended at first that he had never seen me. I suggested he should have paid attention to any pedestrian approaching the intersection
certainly equal to any directions he was giving the buses who, after all, were following each other like lemmings….and furthermore could follow the directions of the cop in the middle of the intersection of the streets also giving signals to the bus lemmings. I wanted the guy to know that I was nearly killed…..that he should know how that nearly happened. I simply wanted to know how close I came to death…..without blaming, simply to review how to avoid what could have happened in the future.
He’d have none of it. He kept interrupting me while I was doing my explaining….”You don’t get it….you’re wrong….you’re out to lunch” …..He didn’t hear a word I said. He was defending his turf……a common habit so often the curse of a cop….And here was his answer.
It was my fault to have been nearly killed. Despite the semaphore turning from red to green, I should have noticed (with these countless buses interfering with my view, that despite an instinct I might have felt as a pedestrian to feel safe for a moment now that the suddenly greened green light appeared) that this prized officer was wearing a yellow and white vest….which he continued, had a code number of some ordinance perhaps that gave him and others authority to ignore green lights. He plucked his yellow and white vest proudly.
I asked him first, who many of the millions of citizens around the Twin Cities would have seen his little yellowness much less known precisely what it had stood for….compared to what is known about semaphore lights turning green. Then I asked for the name of his superior. At the very moment, LP showed up in a tootsie toy type vehicle. His jaw was extended even before we were introduced….for I was really never introduced to him. He told me to get away….Do you want to be handcuffed and sent off?…. I told him I wanted to know his name. He repeated the handcuff threat and then pushed me with his hand, then placed his hand over his id with name and picture attached to a chain around his neck. I managed to read it anyway. As I left, I told him I’d remember his name….LP.
Yes, I have had about four or five such altercations with police, the real ones in my lifetime. I report this primarily to those of you who have never had such experiences. As a group, in my view, police act to do good, but as automatons rather than humans. Institutions defend THEIR turf in the foremost. A further note…..The actors in the above true play might not be regulars of a police force. They may be supplemental staff hired for or by the Minnesota State Fair.
They seemed very, very out of date, very unprofessional. I shall look into this.
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