I was out for an evening stroll with friends, and we happened to cut through the Wiggly Giggly Playground. (Yes, really.) Aware of the rules prohibiting use after sundown, we decided that walking through was not use, persay, and that therefore we would probably be safe. Imagine our surprise when a flashlight loomed from the darkness.
“Good evening,” we replied.
The flashlight, as it turned out, belonged to a representative of the long arm of the law, who asked us what we were doing. We reasonably explained that we were using the park as a shortcut, and he admitted as to that being a perfectly respectable use of public land, although he suggested that we move along, as there had been a report of “people hanging out in the park after hours.” We dutifully peered about and didn’t notice anyone hanging.
What we did notice, though, was that he called not one but two officers for backup, and soon they stood around us in a menacing circle.
“Well, uh, we’re just going to go on then,” I said, meekly. “If, you know, there’s nothing else we can help you with.”
“Oh yeah…sure…just…could I get your names really quick?”
Sadly, we all had unusual names, which required spelling, and I couldn’t remember my birthday, so there were some awkward moments. But we got through it.
Our adventure with the police raised several questions for me:
1. Since we weren’t really, technically, doing anything wrong, it would have been a little odd to ask for id, which is good, since none of us were carrying. However, the officer seemed remarkably trusting that we were giving our real names and birthdays, considering that mine sounds like a practical joke.
2. What exactly was the point of taking down our names? Will I show up in the police report next week? (“Officers stopped x, 20 and y, 19, along with an un-named minor in the Wiggly Giggly Playground at 10:28 pm after reports of suspicious activity. Suspects were released.”) Well, actually, subjects weren’t arrested. But you get the point. Do the cops just like to collect names? What’s the deal?
3. What is the big problem with being in the park after dark anyway?