So, late saturday night I get a last minute call from my girlfriend. Come on over she says. Hmmmm nice. I decide to take the train on down to where she lives (about 40 miles away). Getting to the train station means that I have to walk through a deserted downtown Chicago. Not a ton of people on the street. A few homeless guys hustling, not much else. I’m walking down Van Buren towards the Lasalle Street station when I feel someone come up close behind me. I step to the left and look over my shoulder. It’s some yuppie dude. He’s talking. I can’t hear him, got the iPod on. I pull one of the earphones off and look at him. He asks me if I know what time it is. I think he’s drunk. I tell him no. Earplugs back in. Over the Pixies, I hear him yell something else. I look back at him and he’s standing on the sidewalk shaking his fist at me. What a moron. I ignore him and keep walking towards the train station.
A couple of blocks later, I'm there. Even though it's after midnight, the train station is busy. Lots of people headed home from a long night in the city. I barely made it on time. This is the last train out tonight.
There’s a ton of cops checking bags before you get on the train. I make it through them with minimum hassle, head on up towards the front car and grab a seat. iPod on, newspaper open, getting relaxed for the long train ride. I feel a tap on my shoulder. I look up and there are three sheriff's police standing near my seat. All are armed. They look tense. “Come with us sir” the first one says. He’s a big bald cop. I look at the other two and they’re looking at me like “Go ahead and try something”. I look over again at the bald cop and say “What’s up?” He says “Just grab all of your belongings and follow us”. The whole fucking train is looking at me like I’m a freaking terrorist or something. I grab my laptop bag, bottle of water and newspaper. I am escorted off of the train.
We get outside the train and there are three more policemen waiting for me. (I’m apparently a 6 cop threat) I’m surrounded.... One of them says to me “We can’t allow you to travel tonight sir”. WTF? Am I on the Federal No-Train List ™ ? I know.. It's the internet. I’ve posted some major liberal rants online in the past and now they've come to get me. That must be it. I make a mental note to delete Daily Kos from my bookmarks.
The cop repeats " We can't allow you to travel tonight.".... It sounds so scripted. I have no idea what the hell he’s talking about. I ask “Why?”. I’m told by the bald cop that “You made threats against another passenger”. ?!? wtf ?!? Huh? I tell him I haven't spoken to anyone since I got on the train. I didn’t. Seriously. The cops keep telling me how someone told them that I made threats against other passengers. What?
I’m telling the cop *again* that I never spoke to anyone on the train. I see him looking up at the traincar. I follow his eyes and who do I see? The drunk yuppie from earlier in the night who asked me for the time. He’s grinning at us like he’s watching a cartoon.
Ah ha, so this is where it’s coming from. My friend from out on the sidewalk told the cops some bs story.
The police are asking me more questions. I respond calmly and maintain eye contact with them. I insist that I haven’t talked with anyone since I got on the train. I tell them to ask the other passengers on my car if I spoke with anyone, or had any kind of altercation.
Honest to god, at this point.... with the way things are these days... I thought I was never getting on that train. I thought it was becoming one of those bad scenes that you hear some blogger raving about online. Nothing good could come of this. It felt like they were going to just kick my ass off the train on the word of some drunken turd. There was a good minute of silence as we all stood there looking at each other. The train was supposed to have left five minutes ago. Finally, one of the cops says “ Lets just let him ride in another car and keep them separated”
Wow. Hey, guess what, it pays to be civilized to the cops.
They walked me back to the last car on the train and let me get on. But... two of them stayed on the car with me the entire ride. I felt like a rock star (or a freaking felon...).
Lesson. It’s amazing how easy it is for some loser to lie to the police to exact some kind of petty revenge. In these times, they have to react to even the slightest of incidents. It was a freaking surreal experience. The cops though, I have hand it to them. They handled it like real people. No over-reaction. No homeland security BS. Just real people dealing with a situation like professionals. Like it freaking should be.
As far as my little drunken yuppie friend goes.... I really really hope I get to meet you again sometime soon. I’ll be more than happy to tell you what time it is. It’ll be a night you’ll never forget.