Close encounter with an ‘encounter’
October 8, 2006
Friday was a slow day, atleast till evening 6:30 pm. And then..
I decided to go home, change and hit the badminton courts. I opened the exit door at the back of the department and saw a military style van (like U-Haul truck) standing in the middle of the road on my left. I suddenly sensed trouble. The atmosphere was exceptionally quiet. On the top of this van was a tanker like opening from which a soldier pointed a big gun towards me. As if this was not enough, there were 3 more policemen (though looked like soldiers) on either side of the van. 7 people were pointing these never-before-seen-BIG guns towards me. One guy shouted “Put your hands up.. I said put your hands up..”
Did I have a choice? Initially I thought this was some movie shooting or smile-you-are-on-candid-camera kinda stuff. But within a split second I realised it wasnt the case where a hot anchor would come up and say “smile”. I obliged. I was asked to walk straight towards the truck with my hands in the air. And as things would be, I suddenly felt a strong urge to scratch my back. Now it was a tough choice: my back or my life? ‘Coz if I moved my hands, I would have been writing this from up above. I resisted the urge after much thinking, The van on the road had a satellite dish (not for watching HBO but for satellite communication). As soon as I got near the van, one said “I got him, I got him” and asked me to put my hands on the truck’s wheels so that he could check me. I had nothing going in my head all this while (not unusual). All these ppl were still pointing guns to me while one guy checked me, and questioned about where I was coming from (bldg), what was my major, how long I was in the bldg. etc.
After searching (they missed the swiss-army knofe I had, hehe) me, they asked me to move behind a car in the nearby parking lot. I had barely murmurred “racial discrimination” when I saw a Chinese, two Americans, and an Egyptian standing in a line as if they were about to do some Bollywood dance step (with hands on the back of their head). In a minute, an officer came to us and revealed the secret:
“There was a guy who is on a run, he had shot a university police officer and hid in the engineering building! So we want to hunt him down and make sure everybody is safe..”
Me: “ok, did you guys have a description?”
Before he could answer, just then another group of students who exited the bldg. were given the same royal treatment. We were all asked to go to the nearby Wendy’s where many others like us were there. And then he jokingly said “it is a bad idea to be in the dept. on a friday evening” to which I said “try telling that to my prof.”
Our IDs were checked and SSN taken for cross-checking, and we were let off after the drama ended.