IN AN EXTREMELY bizarre chain of events that unfolded last Saturday night on Capitol Hill, a representative of the Seattle Police Department completely failed to be a hard-ass and even demonstrated a sense of humor. At around 10:30 p.m., an unidentified police officer in a squad car witnessed me and a companion imbibing beer on the sidewalk between 11th and 12th on Pine (a block from the local police station, a smarter drinker- in-public might have noted). Possession of an open container of liquor in a public place is illegal per Seattle Municipal Code 12A.24.025 (a smarter person might have noted).
My companion and I, however, were—wisely or not—availing ourselves of some road sodas on the way to the Comet and had paused to finish them. The police officer drove by and, to our mild dismay, identified our lawless activity and proceeded to throw the car into reverse. I expressed to my companion the desire to take the impending ticket gracefully.
The cop then rolled down his window and called out to my friend, who was rather obviously attempting to rid himself of his beer in a nearby recycling bin, "Hey, cowboy! Let's see the cans!" (My friend is in fact not a cowboy but was wearing a fishing-style hat at the time of the incident.)
We raised our cans for the police officer's perusal in a sort of compulsory toast. He then issued an order from within his vehicle that I understood to be "Chuck them," but when I attempted to place my beer in the recycling, the officer clarified, "I said CHUG THEM!" I duly drank some beer, but, not being in a fraternity, became quickly sated and again attempted to dispose of it. The officer of the law admonished, "Don't wimp out on me!"
While having a policeman force you to do anything is uncomfortably reminiscent of the Bad Lieutenant, my companion and I complied. The two beers in question were consumed; the cans, now empty, were placed in the appropriate recycling container. Brief pleasantries were exchanged.
We then crossed legally in the crosswalk in front of the squad car, at which point my companion (the purported cowboy) tipped his hat. The officer responded by again rolling down his window and issuing his only warning: "Remember—throwing away beer is a crime."
Bethany Jean Clement