Lost in translation

New York, NY, USA

Police stop

Police vehicles block a suspect vehicle while officers detain the driver

New York, NY, USA

As the black van reached the corner of Norfolk and Rivington, it was cut off by a police van that had charged the wrong way down Rivington, lights blazing. Inside a minute, it had been surrounded by five more police vehicles — three squad cars, a three-wheeler and the Cop Cab, a local undercover vehicle disguised as a yellow taxi. Uniformed officers ordered the driver, a middle-aged Hispanic man, out of the van and had him assume the position while they patted him down for weapons. Two white-shirted officers materialized from somewhere, while the uninvolved uniforms exchanged high-fives.

“What’s going on?” asked the man standing in the doorway of the dry cleaners.

“No idea,” I said, “but he must have a hell of a lot of unpaid parking tickets.”

He looked blankly at me for a moment, and then started to explain carefully that, no, they wouldn’t send that many vehicles to arrest someone over parking tickets. He gave me a look that said that he pitied me for my lack of understanding of the way the real world worked.

I thought about trying to explain the concept of irony to him, but something told me it was a lost cause.