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  • Steven Hopkinson

Police Escort



Going through Miami a couple of days ago on the ICW due to non-ideal conditions outside, as we were passing one of the largest cruise ships I’ve ever seen (exact comment to Andrea upon glimpsing the behemoth through our field glasses was ‘It’s like a small city’) our friend Gary who was running point ahead of us in Aurora (his 37’ Beneteau) to an anchorage called No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne got “pulled over” by a Miami-Dade County Police boat. Blue lights flashing, the cops told him over loudspeaker that he was entering a security zone, that he needed to turn around immediately.


I’ve never been as emphatic as I urged Andrea to turn City Dogs around with all due haste. In truth, I’m sure I used some crude language, point being we’re all terrified of the authorities when they go all aggro on high alert anti-terror mode. Clearly, Andrea, Fozzie Bear, Mischa and I aren’t exactly any kind of threat to the thousands of people aboard the huge cruise ships in the port of Miami, but the cops have a job to do. Gary doesn’t look like much of a threat either but hey, rules are rules.

Or are they? Because as soon as the cops told us we had to go back the way we came, the Miami-Dade Police boat was pulling up alongside us again. This time, he said in an accent that sounded familiar, like someone we’d run into at Ray’s Pizza in Manhattan or Roberta’s in Brooklyn, that we could go on through out to the sea, that they’d give us a police escort through the security zone. We thanked them, happy to not to have to wait for yet another bascule (draw) bridge to go up on the half, or quarter, or fifteen of the hour. The one we’d been waiting on was a train bridge, which the cops told us could be as much as twenty minutes out. Clearly boat traffic (except Coast Guard and barges) is not prioritized on the bascule bridges in southern Florida.


And yet, we got an escort through one of the most protected zones in the area, all without a single inspection or any kind of evaluation of any kind, aside from the eyeball the cop gave us. Maybe it’s partly because those of us who chose to go out on the water treat each other with a certain amount of mutual respect, knowing that we’re all land animals out of our element whose existence on the flowing substance that comprises 70% of our planet is tenuous, full of uncertainty and doubt.


Cop or not, Coast Guard or not, all vessels on the water are required to help each other out if they can do so without endangering themselves. If only we had the same kind of rules for on the hard, maybe we might be more of a unified whole rather than a fractured series of segments with sharp, angry edges, ready to defend ours with every weapon at our disposal with the slightest provocation (real, imagined or deluded into reality).


We might not be so quick to descend into violence, either simulated through the immensely popular FPS games or actual, through hunting or actual rampages like the one that killed and wounded so many in Las Vegas, if we remembered that we’re all just people here on the same green planet, trying to make our way as best as we can while we’re here.

If we treated each other like boat people treat each other, we might be all right. We might have universal healthcare and like, less mass shootings at the very least. If we’re lucky we’d also have, like, you know something approaching a guiding worldwide standard on climate change.