Almost Intelligent

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Almost Intelligent Goes North-Nabbed By The RCMP

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In order to get a sense of the city(read about my impressions and see more photos here) I spent the better part of a day wandering around Whitehorse “following my feet” for lack of anything better to direct me. Now, walking tends to be an uneventful activity. Suspicious people never walk, they slink. Guilty people run. Walking is for the calm, the legal and the noncriminal. It is also for the unlicensed and the carless (i.e. me.)

When I’m not trying to get anywhere in particular, I enjoy the slowness of walking. I need it in order to get any sense of my bearings in a place. When I’m in a car it just doesn’t work, and I find myself with no idea of how places are connected. Walking without a destination also increases the impulse to wander, to explore. Perhaps you already see where this is going.

I was trying to trace the path of Elliot Street, in Whitehorse. On the map, it looked strange. I’ve reproduced this map faithfully in Paint.

Note: RCMP building is an artist's impression only.

As I passed between the RCMP building and a medical clinic, I saw a parking lot behind the RCMP compound. I should point out that this was neither marked with “Stay the Fuck Out” signage, nor was it fenced in. I wandered in, assessed the situation, decided it would not lead to Elliot Street. As I left the alley between the RCMP building and the clinic, I stopped to get something out of my bookbag (bookbags make you instantly suspicious, you could have ANYTHING in there. I personally keep an angry badger in mine. Nothing prevents unwanted snooping like an angry badger in an enclosed space.) A woman in a white truck drove out of the lot at that time, and gave me what I would call a suspicious look as she passed (because I look like someone who would be up to rebellious things?)

I walked out, passed the white truck lady since she’d stopped to chat with someone coming into the lot. I crossed the street and started walking back down Elliot. And the white truck followed me. At first I thought “that’s paranoid Colin, why the hell would she follow you? You’ve taken special care not to exude your irresistible man-musk.” But then the truck pulled into a spot in front of me. The woman inside leaned out. The following is our conversation, with my thoughts included in italics.

Her, leaning: Excuse me, but I don’t recognize you as a member of the RCMP.

Me, stopping: I’m not a member of the RCMP. And you clearly know that so that’s a strange way to phrase your statement.

Her, suspiciously: Can I ask what you were doing in the RCMP compound lot?

Me, confusedly: I didn’t recognize it as such, but I’m new to Whitehorse so I’ve been walking around trying to get my bearings. May I ask why you’re asking me this?

Her: Well, I’m a member of the RCMP. Oh, that explains it. I’m in plainclothes but here is my badge (I think I remember her saying “and I do carry a gun”, but that seems weird and threat-like so I might be making it up.) May I ask what your business is here?

Me: Well, I’m visiting from New Brunswick. I’m looking to see if I can do some writing for one of the papers in town. I was actually trying to find the office for What’s Up Yukon. May I ask your name?

Her: April [redacted]. Is there anything I can help you with?(Nobody ever asks that and means it. What they mean is “get a clue about what you’re doing or get out of here.”)I’m not sure where that paper is, but the CBC is down there, they might be able to help you.

Me: Okay, thanks. Well, that was awkward. Walking away now…

Her, again suspiciously: Could you take your hands out of your pockets please sir?

Me, weirded-outedly: Okay…Because I am A)absolutely carrying a weapon in my pockets? and B)Would attempt to assault you IN FRONT OF THE RCMP COMPOUND in broad daylight.

Her: Now, sir, the reason why I stopped you is we have had people coming and getting the license numbers from officers’ personal vehicles, so I’m just doing my job. I will need to see some ID…

By now you get the picture. In retrospect I probably didn’t have to give her any information. By the time I was done, however, she had my ID, my date of birth, my name, the duration of my visit to Whitehorse, where I was staying while I was in the Yukon…in short, far more information than a citizen should be compelled to give without proper grounds. In fairness to her, she was polite and generally nice about it. She identified herself properly, and gave a reason for stopping me.

I don’t, however, think it was a good reason. Something about the interaction left me feeling wrong. I’m not generally against the police. I appreciate the role they play and the work they do. But I did get a taste of what the “fuck the police” crowd feels. Unless I’m committing a crime, my business is my own. I should not have given that information. April had no right to it. It would have been interesting to see how things unfolded if I had refused to provide it, but I was afraid not to. Ordinary citizens shouldn’t feel that fear.


Written by Colin Hodd

April 10, 2012 at 11:36 PM

One Response

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  1. It’s funny how running into just another normal person can create an instant power dynamic, if they happen to have a badge!


    April 10, 2012 at 11:48 PM

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