I witnessed an arrest - or I almost did - live and in person, the drama played out before my very eyes on the gritty streets of Vancouver. (Washington. Look it up.)
A man in his mid-twenties who appeared homeless, or perhaps efficiently self-contained, wearing a backpack from which dangled various housewares and a cardboard sign (the content of which I could not make out) came from around the corner. He was wearing a hat that looked very much like a mushroom from Alice in Wonderland. It was red with white spots and puffed up around his head much like ... well, like a mushroom.
He was walking his dog and minding his own business until a white van appeared. This incited the man. He yelled for the driver of the van to stop stalking him. The van drove away with the man's insults trailing behind him.
But the van apparently went around the block because it appeared again having no less affect on the young man. After a third pass by the van, the young man removed his hat and took a seat on the steps to a local church. Thus disguised, he sought his sanctuary.
The van passed again and there was no exchange between the parties. Several minutes passed, and thinking he was in the clear, the young man put on his hat and continued down the street. As if alerted, there were now two vans stalking the man, each with the official logo of Vancouver's local bus system, C-Tran. Perhaps, the young man did not pay his fare. Or, quite possibly, worse.
Much worse, it might seem, because it wasn't long before a squad car appeared. It cruised through the intersection but disappeared around the corner only to appear again moments later. This time, the officer pulled over in a way that meant business, askew and in the opposing lane of traffic.
The officer got out of the car and very politely approached the young man. No voices were raised but each kept their distance. In a moment, a second squad car appeared. Soon all three of Vancouver's finest were there, the third one adding a special flare by turning on his lights. The young man was now surrounded.
He took a seat on the sidewalk to discuss the current situation while officers who would make mall cops look good took position. Watching these developments, I couldn't help but notice the only thing that was impressive about these officers were their cars: sexy Dodge Chargers. I supposed if the officers weren't up to the task of actually chasing down criminals, it's possible they could entice bad guys to get in by simply stopping the car and opening the back door. But I digress.
The young man was was surrounded by three police officer and two C-Tran guys who were younger and more fit that the policemen. I'm not sure what to call the C-Tran guys - maybe they were police wannabes - but they were wearing utility belts so it looked pretty serious from that angle as well.
The city of Vancouver moved on without regard to the drama unfolding on its city streets. Traffic diverted itself in an orderly fashion around the five vehicles parked at odd angles across the street. Foot traffic continued by the scene, parents instructing children not to stare, while bigger kids rode their bikes with the sole intention of staring.
I, for one, called for my check at the outdoor restaurant where I was seated and headed for my car which was nearly in the middle of it all. Hell, I figured, if there was any time to commit a crime, the time was now.
I never found out what happened to the young man. There was nothing in the paper about the incident. I left the scene before whatever did happen played out. I got in my car, started the engine, and hightailed it out of there by way of a side street.
And I didn't use my turn signal.