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Prove You’re A Writer
I emerged from the R train
subway station at Times Square on my way to an afternoon theater rehearsal when
I found myself being shadowed by a uniformed cop. I could see him in the corner of my eye as I
crossed Seventh Avenue. He followed me
through the throng of tourists for over a block then discreetly asked me to
"step aside." Now, I've been pulled over
by the police while driving in New York, LA but never, ever have I ever been
told by the law to "step aside."
"Do you have any ID?" the cop
asked and I quickly showed him my driver's license. As he was doing this I wondered if my
sunglasses, black leather jacket and long hair made him think I was a
A lot went through my mind
including the absurd notion that I had committed some felony that I, myself,
wasn't aware of? Why else would the
police have any interest in me? I also
wondered if they wanted me for something I was accused of, wouldn't they have
come to my home? Could they have been
following me for the entire day?
He looked at my photo, again
at my face, and quickly said into his hand-held police radio, "I got him."
In seconds, I found myself
facing two uniformed cops who were looking me over as they glanced at a small,
blurred surveillance camera photograph one of them held in his hand. "Where were you Monday night?" the second
cop seriously asked.
For a moment I couldn't even
remember when Monday was let alone where I had been? Then I did.
"Oh, yeah. I was at a rehearsal
for my play."
"You're a writer?" the cop
"Yeah," I told him.
With that, the cop actually
asked me, "Can you prove it?"
Interesting predicament, I
thought. I actually glanced quickly up
at the billboards and posters in the area wondering if I had a play in
production? I looked at a bookstore on
the corner wondering if my novel was visible anywhere? I also actually scanned the street searching
out a video store in hopes I could direct them to the clerk and they could
check out a movie of mine.
Realizing none of this was
immediately possible I felt a surge of alarm.
I had an inner monologue
asking myself, how do I prove to this cop that I am what I do? I wasn't
carrying a copy of my novel. I wasn't in
possession of my tax forms. At that
moment, I seriously had no idea, standing on the corner of 46th
Street and 7th Avenue, how I was supposed to prove to the law
that I was a professional writer?
Then, in a split second, it
occurred to me to open my wallet.
Inside, I had my Writer's Guild card.
I hastily held it up for both cops to see. They took it, checked it against my driver's
license and I could see their faces relax.
"Sorry for stopping you like this," one of the cops told me. "You resemble a guy who is coning tourists
out of cash in this area."
It was then that I stole a
glimpse of the photo of the guy they believed I looked like. The features were similar: he had the
same olive complexion and high forehead.
I was then allowed to
continue on to my meeting glad that they figured that a writer wouldn't be
coning tourists out of cash. Though we
all know many on Broadway probably do.
The experience was actually
beyond existential angst. I had been
born twenty blocks south and a few blocks east of the corner I had been stopped
on and yet, for a few moments during that brief encounter, I was a stranger in
my own house.