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Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?
A completely true, albeit unlikely story about the day I appeared
in an unfilmed, non-televised episode of Cops.

By George McGrath

If you're like I used to be, when you see someone surrounded by a dozen crouching policemen with their rifles aimed at him - and there's a police helicopter overhead - and that "someone" is walking backwards with their hands over their head, or lying face down, or being handcuffed with the old knee-in-the-back routine, you think to yourself, "I wonder what they did?" If you're like I used to be, and you've basically admitted you are, you don't think "I wonder if they did something." Based on the production value involved alone, you assume they had to have done something. And probably something really really bad.

It was August 21, the year that Almost Perfect and Just Shoot Me were both on our TV sets. I know it's very sad that those are my only clues to identify the year, but I was consulting on both shows at the time, and a little Google search won't kill you. When your days are "god-only-knows" how many hours long, you try to make good use of your day off. And on this August 21st, I was. I had a post-it on my dashboard listing the errands on my agenda for the day: P.O. Box, Staples for fax machine ink roll replacement thing, and Color Tile to check on the samples that had come in. I was having my house remodeled - and was replacing every inch of linoleum with tiles purchased exclusively from the Color Tile on Laurel before you hit the Sears on Victory. I shopped their store and catalogs with the help of my tile consultant, a strict thorough woman whose name was, I believe, Noney (like bony). She was from Vietnam, and I was from Valley Village. We had forged a relationship based on my desire to buy large boxes of tiles and her desire to sell them to me. But I digress…

Okay. So I'm driving up Ventura Boulevard - leaving my P.O. Box on my way to Staples per my post-it. A police car is behind me. When I pass Laurel Canyon, I notice another police car traveling in the opposite direction make a U-turn and follow behind them. Then another police car makes a U-ey, then another. It's a parade of police cars. I'm driving my leased (it's just easier) silver Infiniti J30T, and the car in front of me is a beat up Volkswagen with lots of clothes in the back window, so I figure they must be the target, and I'm providing the police "cover." When you see laundry piled up in the back window of a moving vehicle, you know there's more laundry underneath it. And the driver of said vehicle is automatically a suspicious character. Of course the police should stop him. Dear God, what if he's got a dead prostitute under that laundry? By the time I cross Whitsett, two other police cars have U-turned and lined up behind me. I make sure to signal when I make the turn into the Staples/Jerry's Deli parking lot.

That's when the "police action" kicked into gear. The car behind me started flashing its lights, and turned on their siren. I stopped, of course, thinking "What the fuck?" I am told to turn off the car and put my hands outside the window through that "CB radio thing that sounds like a megaphone" police use. When I stick my hands out the window I see we have been joined by a police helicopter that hovers closer than a helicopter should. On the ground, all of the U-turning police cars had pulled in behind at various angles, and the police were outside their vehicles on one knee, rifles pointed at me. They shouted instructions. "Put your hands up over your head. Outside the car. Outside the car! Now, open the door with your right hand." This was the moment they could have shot me and gotten away with it. "From the outside! From the outside!" When the power struggle over who was to yell at me was through, one officer continued instructions solo. "Open the door and step out of the vehicle. Keep your hands up. Drop the cigarette. Walk three steps forward! Pull your shirt up over your head! Your T-shirt too! Pull your pockets out. Spin around! Spin around the other way! Kneel down on the ground! Kneel down on the ground!" Okay, I don't know about you, but I'm not completely comfortable pulling my shirt over my head and spinning around in the privacy of my own home. So, not surprisingly, I was a little "ooky" about doing it for the gathering crowd of interested Jerry's parkers.

This might be a good time to describe myself. Okay. Say Mike Douglas (the talk show host, not the movie star) and Merv Griffin combined their sperm, and chose Andrea McCardle as the surrogate mother. That baby would quite possibly grow up to look something like me when he was around 40. Okay, now put that 40 year old large headed adult baby in charcoal gray pleated linen pants, black demi boots, and a short sleeved dress shirt worn mu-mu style, and, on this day, he could be my twin.
I tell you that with absolutely no sense of pride at the details, only to let you know I didn't look like a criminal that day. Did I mention it was 100 degrees? Okay, consider it mentioned.

"Now lay face down with your hands out," officer Screamey screamed. The parking lot is black tar, and it's lunchtime on August 21st. I tried to hold my palms a smidge above the ground, but officer Screamey wasn't having it. "All the way down! All the way down!"

Another officer (Officer Yankey) yanked my arm, handcuffed me and said "Stand up." I have never been asked to stand starting in the face down position with my hands cuffed before, and let me tell you, I was never more aware of the fact that I am no Kerry Scruggs. But I did it. I saw a young officer (think Leisel's boyfriend in Sound of Music) say "We got him!" Very enthusiastically. And I thought to myself, "You do not, you stupid Nazi."

As most of the police ran to my car, they began screaming as a group again. "Is there anyone else in the car? Is there anyone else in the car?" "No," I replied. That didn't relax them enough for them to lower their guns, which they pointed into my empty car, apparently to shoot any hiding passengers.

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