There aren’t enough “good cop” stories, so here’s one.
A cop notes the bawling baby and addresses him in a level voice. “What are you crying about, Little Boy?,” and the tears stop flowing. “You have nothing to cry about, Little Boy. You’re in the arms of your Grandma, and Grandmoms are good people. Granny’s going to take you to the toy store and buy you an Elmo doll. She’ll probably let you buy all the toys in the store.”
The police officer is patrolling the no-parking zone in front of the arrivals door at Terminal D at the Philadelphia airport, the only person in uniform not shining laser beams into the eyes of drivers attempting to park. I am Granny, holding 18-month-old Bill, who is visiting from California and considers me a dangerous stranger – or at least not Mommy. I walk laps to distract Bill, whose Mommy and Grandpop are attempting to wrestle a car seat into the car.
Bill kicks, communicating his wish for freedom from my grip. Bill pummels, demanding extrication. Bill shrieks, insisting on hugging Mommy now.
“You have nothing to cry about now,” says Police Officer (“PO”), my new best friend. “Just wait. Later in life, you’ll have plenty to cry about. Just wait ‘til you have to learn the alphabet. That’ll make you cry.
“And dating? Whew! That’s a bitch. Dating always made me cry.” A female police officer and I enjoy this witty, stylish performance and PO’s uncanny ability to tame a screaming toddler.
“You and me, Kid, we’re just like each other. Look, we both have the same Velcro ties on our shoes. And we’re about the same height, see? I’m short, and your Granny’s not too big, either, so here we are, eye to eye.” I love this man.
He doesn’t point out that they are of different races, that one is four times taller than the other or that only one of them carries a weapon. Bill remains open-mouthed but silent.
The job description for a Philadelphia police offer calls for “general-duty policing work involving the protection of life and property, enforcement of laws and investigation of crimes. Assignments require evaluative thinking.” There’s PO, evaluatively thinking that Bill is in melt-down mode, prepared to attack the Wizard of Oz to return to Mommy in Kansas.
“Work [of a Philly cop] requires regular exposure to uncontrolled and/or unpredictable conditions.” Right on, PO. Tiny perpetrator uncontrolled, unpredictable, unmanageable. And maybe hungry.
The benefits for cops include salary, benefits and sick leave but do not mention the adoration of devoted Philadelphians who appreciate duty above and beyond.
It’s the traditional cop-versus-driver standoff at the airport, but not at Terminal D, as PO wraps up his rap. “You want something to cry about, little boy? Wait until you get married. Then you’ll have something to cry about. Wait ‘til you get hemorrhoids.”
The car-seat fits. There’s Mommy. Thanks, Officer.
This article appeared on whyy.org.