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.