This is a re-print of Helen McLaughlin's biweekly column in the Bay Ridge Courier of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
I mean, honestly, can we get the cops around here to do something about a situation or not? Why do we pay them these crazy pentions if they can't even respond to a distress call from one very distressed model citizen: ME?!?!?
I know they're always busy with those hooligans who get let out of Fort Hamilton High School way too early -- in my day, we had school from 7am until dusk and then we went to our after-school jobs at the Woolworth's counter making forty cents a week, thank-you-very-much -- but can't Brooklyn's Finest find just a smidgeon of time to help me deal with these crazy characters who seem to be moving in all over the neighborhood?
It started first with the first new neighbors, the Canadians with the big Canadian flag hanging in the yard. Sure, coming from Brooklyn all my life you get used to foreigners -- and incidentally I'm sure Brooklyn's Finest are busy figuring out what's going on in the basements of all those Moslem Mosques and quote-unquote "Islamic Centers" and hookah-pipe establishments all up and down 69th Street, where God knows what gets discussed, and thank God for them paying attention to that nonsense -- but hanging out the big red Canadian maple leaf is, in my honest opinion, pledging alegiance to a socialistical and potentially hostile foreign government. Anyhow, these Canadians seem nice enough; the father, young guy, works at that big blue Swedish place that gives you a free Allen wrench every time you buy some cheap furniture. But then one day, you know what I see? I see them throwing out their garbage in the shed behind the house in the backyard! Now, I just happen to be looking out there, out my back window from time to time, because of how, you know, I write back here, and, you know, this is Brooklyn, so's you can see a lot, as, you know, as you can imagine. So I just happen to be looking and I just happen to notice them bringing out all kinds of garbage: coffee grinds, egg shells, onion skins, unbelievable! So I give the police a call, number three on my speed dial, just under Father Flannery -- or what used to be Father Flannery but now it goes right to that Polish one, nice enough priest but can they find somebody who speaks English already? I mean come on! -- and the police tell me they can't do nothing about it! "Composting," they call it, and they say Marty Markowitz thinks it's a great idea! Now if you ask me, that doesn't sound like the Marty I've known all these years, to be in cahoots with some wack-a-doo Canadian loyalists, but anyhow the point is the lady at the police department says to me, she says, "Sorry, Helen, but we can't do nothin' about it."
Next thing you know, we got these new kids moving in the top floor of the building just across the yard from me: young couple, seem nice enough. I saw the girl getting her hair cut at that salon up the block that charges an arm and a leg to make you look like you stuck your finger in a light socket, but hey, it's a free country, whatever floats your boat, that's what I always say. Anyhow, one day, I'm working on my biweekly column, you know, that I've had for the Bay Ridge Courier for seventeen years now, and I see the husband of the couple, the guy, and he's looking straight back at me with his binoculars! I swear to God I almost had a heart attack, just like anybody would, you know? So I close the blinds and I immediately call the police -- three on the speed dial; thank God for speed dial -- and I tell them we've got a Peeping Tom in the neighborhood, and they tell me they'll send somebody right out. Twenty minutes later, I see the cruiser pull up between the buildings, so I put on some dark sunglasses and I pop around the block to see what I can see, you know, like anybody would. So down comes this guy, and he looks like a lumberjack or a farmer of some kind, like all these kids do nowadays, with his plaid shirt and blue jeans, and he's talking to the cops, showing them his binoculars. Then the wife, Mrs. Peeping Tom, the one with the crazy hair, she comes down with some books and hands the books to the cops. Next thing you know, Brooklyn's Finest are shaking Peeping Tom's hand, at which point I take my Shih Tzu Mitzy and I high-tail it back around the block because I know in a minute they're gonna come around talk to me. And wouldn't you know, a minute later, the cruiser pulls around and the cops come out and ring my buzzer, and you know what they say to me?
"Ornithologist," they tell me. "Bird watcher." He's a bird guy, a scientist or some nonsense, and he's just using those binoculars to look at birds all day long.
Well. Here's what I got to say to that: YEAH RIGHT, BUDDY! You think I was born yesterday? You know what, I've lived in Brooklyn my whole life, and we got two kinds of birds here: little brown ones and pigeons. That's it, that's all the kinds a birds we got! You want to tell me this guy studies pigeons for a living? Please. Give me a break.
In any case, I talked to the cops, tried to reason with them, you know, begged and pleaded with them, and they says to me, they says, "Helen, sorry, but, you know, we can't do nothing about it."
Welp, there it is, Bay Ridge! That's what Brooklyn's Finest have been up to, helping Canadians feed rats in their backyard and letting Peeping Toms off the hook while dangerous terrorists smoke hookah-pipes down the block right under our noses. You know, sometimes I say to myself, I say, "Helen, why you still living here, huh? Why don't you buy a condo in Florida next to your sister and drink margaritas all day long? Huh?" And the answer is because somebody's gotta look out for the neighborhood, that's why.
So I say to you, I say this, Bay Ridge. I say, you're welcome. You know what? Don't even worry about it.