Friday, October 06, 2006

The Wheels Are Coming Off. Literally.

So today I turned from the main road into the mile-long (or so) drag past a school to Wyandanch rail station and was almost hit by a police cruiser pulling out from behind the doughnut shop on the corner. Who proceeded to bust my balls by driving at 25 in the 30 mph zone and 35 in the 40 mph one.

Since the cop was a typical NY driver he positioned himself on the crown of the road, making it easy for me to take up a better, more curbward position and show everyone piling up behind me who the culprit causing the obstruction was.

Good police work there. What a shame these bastions of the law weren't anywhere when the wheels were pulled off the white sedan now propped up on two cinderblocks1 in the Wyandanch car park, having entered this wheelless configuration two nights ago. This being the third day in the last seven someone has removed the wheels from a vehicle in this car park without either the owners consent or the ever vigilant police doing anything to stop them. Well done there, officers of the local PD.

[Aside] Well done blogsot too. I've spent days trying to get the much vaunted picture upload to work but it keeps vomiting an error message so useless it could have been written by a Microsoft staffer. If you would like to see the car anyway, follow this link. If the link does not work, leave a comment to that effect and I'll see what else needs to be switched off or on.

I even tried to do the decent thing and report this vehicle two nights ago. The operator asked if I was the owner. When I said no they blew me off and hung up. To appreciate the irony of this to the fullest, you need to be aware of the anti-terrorism mantra being disseminated via tannoy on the subways and LIRR (and no doubt Metro North too): If you see something, say something.

Being a (basically) law-abiding person, wanting to do my bit to thwart the evil f***ers who exist only to hate and destroy and having lived through my youth in terrorist-targeted UK cities, I've done quite a bit of seeing and saying of late. Some examples of seeing and saying to other commuters and the results follow:

  1. Guy bolts from subway car just as doors close. No train on the opposite platform. I say to the people sitting in the seats he just left "Did he leave anything under his seat?" I ask. Blank looks. I repeat, more forcefully "Did he leave anything under his seat?" and get only scowls and "nutcase" body language back. I take a deep breath and say very slowly "Did the guy who just left the car in a manner that prevented anyone following him leave anything under his seat? The seat you are sitting on? Anything that might go 'Bang!'?" That provokes them to look. Oh yeah, New Yorkers are on the ball all right
  2. A guy boards the LIRR train, waits until everyone is seated, leaves his briefcase in the entry plenum of the car and starts to walk to the other end. A fellow commuter points out the bag to me. I stand up and loudly2 yell "Who owns this briefcase?" Blank looks from the crowd and the guy owns up and says he is going to the bathroom. "Take it with you!" I insist. Crowd begins to mutter about my mental capacity, guy says he will be back soon. "Take it with you" I insist. "If it explodes, it is going to take you with it first!" At this point the crowd "gets it" and changes sides. Oh yeah, vigilance is our watchword
  3. I am about to disembark from the LIRR train at Wyandanch when I notice a bag on a bench seat with an electric cord running from its insides to the power socket under the seat3, no-one in attendance. I turn to the young lady in the seat rank next to it. "Did you see who left this bag?" I ask. I get a blank look. "Did you see who left this bag here?" I ask again. "What's it to you?" she responds. "Does it bother you?" "No" I reply as the doors opened, "But it might bother you why someone would leave a bag with a hidden device in it, and it might bother you what sort of device needs power and the absence of the person who brought it aboard." I step off before she can react. Oh yeah. Eyes on the prize, no question.

That's just for starters. Then we have the official response. Like the time I saw a guy inside one of the news vendor stores in Penn Station with a camera and telephoto lens. He was pointing it at various people (and I would have thought that the guys browsing the porn racks would have objected at this point but they didn't) but every so often he would turn and sight through the register counters at the ticketing area of the station itself. I couldn't tell if he was shooting since today's cameras have all-but silent mechanisms, but even so it was a bit suspicious to me. Add to that his "Mediterranean" or "Middle Eastern" complexion and looks (I admit to profiling a bit here) and my hackles were, rightly or wrongly, up.

I left the premises and looked about but couldn't see a single cop or national guardsman (or guardswoman), normally thick on the ground but that night invisible, so I made a beeline for the MTA police office. There I attempted to report the suspicious activity, only to be told "Well, technically speaking you are allowed to take photographs in the station now". Seldom has my flabber been so completely ghasted. I looked at officer dimwit and said "Well, you guys are saying If you see something, say something and I've just seen something that, were I back in London, would have me phoning the police. I no longer use this station, so I won't be here when the ticket area is bombed." and I left. Oh yeah, highly trained in anti terrorist measures these guys.

1: UK breezeblocks
2: I truly had no idea just how well my voice carried until that incident. Je suis un foghorn when needs must
3: Used to power cleaning equipment like vacuum cleaners, power washers and so forth

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