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.