Encounter with Authority

I went to the Laker Hall at SUNY Oswego Saturday to practice in the gym. I
have been practicing at the YMCA here in Oswego NY but that costs me $5 a
visit so sometimes I go to the local college’s gyms to ride for free.

 There were lots of guys playing basketball so I had to be content with the
 out of bounds areas. One guy pushed the dustmop over the playing area and
 left me two long windrows of ghost turds in the end zones, so I wheeled
 over, grabbed the dustmop and pushed it around on the uni to get this stuff
 out of my practice area. Appreciative comments from the players.

 I practiced for about an hour and then left.

 I wheeled out of the gym with my bag and coat over my shoulder to cross the
 length of the hall to the lockers downstairs, only to be pounced on by an
 armed & flak jacketed campus cop. There was a men's basketball game getting
 ready to start in the big gym. Don't know why they weren't there last
 Saturday for the women's game but here they were tonight. This guy looked
 like he was weaned on a pickle. I was going less than walking pace, keeping
 my distance from people in the hall but as soon as he saw me he stepped
 right in my path (about 50 feet away) and shouted "You! Off the bike!",
 causing the people lined up to enter the gym to all freeze and look around.
 I briefly considered leaping to my knees, clasping my hands and screaming
 "Don't shoot, please don't shoot!" but sanity prevailed and I hopped off
 immediately, shouldered my uni, smiled and said "Unicycle, sir."

 "I don't care! I said OFF NOW!" (I was alread off.) I thought, "what an
 asshole", but without breaking stride said "Yes sir." and proceeded to the
 stairs down to the lockers. I changed and as I left the lockers, I
 considered that I could ride to the other end of the building on the lower
 level but decided not to in case he was lurking. So I carried my uni up the
 stairs and went over to chat with him and his partner.

 I approached slowly, hands in plain sight, smiled and said hello. These
 guys were on edge, like they were waiting for a bomb to explode, and I felt
 nervous being near them. He looked at me like he might look at a fresh pile
 of dog barf. I asked if there was a specific rule against riding unicycles
 inside. "Of course there is," he replied, "it's a form of bicycle and
 bicycles are prohibited indoors in all buildings on campus".

 I mentally gritted my teeth, knowing it would be futile to argue the
 distinctness of bicycles and unicycles (just count the wheels, you dummy)
 so I asked if this was a written rule and if so, where could I see it. "I
 just told you," he barked, obviously thinking that should be good enough.
 "You have told me that a written rule exists, and I have asked you where I
 can see it for myself. I want to know the rules so I can comply with them
 on a fully informed basis." He didn't know where, but invited me to "go
 look for it".

 I said OK and then asked "I don't think I was doing anything wrong. Maybe
 you assume I was going to endanger the pedestrians?" "Of course!" "Well,
 officer, I can assure you I am not so irresponsible as to go crashing into
 people--" Here his partner interrrupted me (New Yorkers do that a lot) to
 say "--and that's why we know you won't risk someone running into you. You
 can't know what other people are going to do, now do you?". The old good
 cop, bad cop routine.

 I could have argued that by going less than walking pace and keeping
 adequate clearance from pedestrians I could ensure that even a determined
 hit and run pedestrian couldn't reach me before I could dismount, but you
 can't use logic to argue with illogical people. So I smiled and said, "OK,
 I can see you guys are just doing your job, and I don't have a problem with
 that. I am willing to comply." and turned to leave.

 The bad cop let me get two steps away before saying "Just a minute." With a
 sinking feeling, knowing what came next, I turned around. "Do you have any
 identification?" "No" I lied. Why give my opponent bullets to shoot me
 with? "Are you a student here?" "No" I truthed, "but I do have permission
 to ride in the gyms." He couldn't resist the chance to inform me that the
 hallway wasn't a gym, then asked "Do you live around here?". "Yes sir."
 "And what's your name?" I gave him my real name.

 So now, even though I was obedient and polite, I get the feeling this guy
 is going to take it upon himself to get me banned from the gyms. I could be
 wrong, but I'll be surprised if I'm not. We'll see.

Dennis Kathrens