A Shaggy Dog Story
When I was a train-patrol cop, I sometimes rode the 'E' train from Queens to Manhattan. The 'E' train was an express train, meaning it skipped many stops on the route. It was a long and tedious run... then again, most of them were. Maybe that's why train patrol was an involuntary assignment in the Transit Police.
I'm on a Manhattan-bound 'E' train one night. I'm in the last car of the train. As the train stops at the 75th Avenue station, I notice a guy get on the train several cars up from me with a small dog. It's against the rules to have a dog on the subway other than a seeing-eye dog and this guy didn't look blind to me. At the next stop I started to move up. The design of these particular trains affected the way we would patrol-the doors between the cars had to be keyed open, so for safety's sake we avoided going between the cars while the train was moving unless it was an emergency. Normally we would change cars by walking on the platform while the train was stopped in a station. You had to be quick doing this since some conductors, because they couldn't see you (or because they just didn't like cops) would close the doors while you were out on the platform, and your assigned post would pull away and leave you in the dust.
Anyway, the train stops at the 7Ist/Continental Avenue station and I move up one car. Now the train runs express for five stops. The next time the doors open up are at the Roosevelt Avenue station, and I move up another car. The doors close again and the train runs express for five more stops. Next stop is the Queens Plaza station, and I move up into the car behind the guy with the dog. At the 23rd/Ely station, the last stop in Queens, I finally stroll into the car he's riding in. It's only taken me twenty-five minutes.
"Excuse me, sir, but it's against the law to have a dog in the subway system." He gives me an innocent look and says, "But I'm only going one stop." Wrong answer. By my count he had already ridden fifteen stops, which is easily long enough for even the brightest pooch to mistake a train for a fire hydrant. "May I see some identification, please?" He gives me his driver's license, exactly what I need to write his summons without any further conversation.
I'm writing, and he's talking. Nothing he's got to say interests me, so he's doing a monologue. I'm enjoying it. Like most people, he didn't realize that once I started writing the ticket, he didn't really have a chance of talking his way out of it. He's babbling on about how good it is to see police in the subways, how he didn't know it was against the rules to have his dog in the subway, how his dog is such a nice dog, well trained, blah, blah, blah...
The train pulls into the Lexington Avenue station in Manhattan. He says to me-like we're just old friends chatting-"Well, this is my stop. By the way, do you have a dog at home?" As he stands up to get off the train I pull the ticket out of my book, hand it to him and say with a smile, "No, sir, I hate dogs." He grabs the ticket and says, "Oh, yeah? I bet they hate you, too!"
© Robert Cohen
Trebor Nehoc –a pseudonym of course, who could have or want a name like that?- retired as a captain in the New York City Police Department. This book of war stories is a humorous recapitulation of his experiences in the transit police. The above “Shaggy Dog Story” is an example of what you’re in for if you buy this book. It doesn’t exactly prove that cops are nice guys, but it does indicate that they’re at least human. Available from Amazon and Barnes and Nobel if you can’t find it in your local bookstore.