What’s Going On Outside My Window

One of the nice things about my office is that I have a window seat. I get plenty of natural light, and a front row view to anything interesting happening in the street. It’s usually pretty quiet, but once in a while there’s some entertainment. Like, a few months ago, I heard a crash down below and turned around to see three cars involved in an accident. The guy who caused the accident jumped out of his car and started chasing the other two drivers like he was going to tear their heads off. A pedestrian intervened, and the aggressive guy jumped back in his car to drive off, just as the police showed up. If I hadn’t been so surprised by the guy’s reaction, I might have thought faster and snapped a picture of his license plate as he squealed away. It was certainly one of the more adrenaline producing “shows” we’ve witnessed.

Periodically, we see the police pulling over multiple cars just up the street from me. It wasn’t readily apparent what was triggering the police to pull over one person and not another, but at times they’d have 5 or more cars lined up, waiting to get ticketed. Elsewhere in the city, I’ve encountered similar setups looking for expired inspection stickers, so that was one of our theories. That theory held up when they were pulling people over at the beginning of the month, but they also show up mid-month and pull over just as many people, so we decided it wasn’t inspection stickers. Then we decided there must be another police unit further down the street that was in radio contact with the units we can see out the windows. The drivers must be doing something to get the attention of the police, and then it’s the job of the units by us to pull them over and issue tickets. This theory holds up over time, and explains why people coming up to the intersection from the cross-street aren’t ever pulled over. But what are these people doing – apparently in droves – to warrant a ticket?

Yesterday, we finally figured it out. The building where I work takes up a whole city block, and the street outside my window is a one-way with three lanes, coming from my left as I’m looking out the window. Halfway between the intersection to my left and the intersection to my right, where the police units are set up, is a cross walk. There’s a plain clothes police officer stationed at the cross walk, and when the units tell him they’re ready, he casually tries to cross the street. From what I can see, they try to time this for when there’s a decent sized knot of cars coming along, and the ones who don’t stop for the under cover cop are pulled over once they reach the units up ahead. It’s sneaky, but I love it!  Hopefully this set up happens around the city, and reminds drivers to be on the lookout for people crossing the street. Maybe the city will be a safer place to walk, one of these days!

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