Earlier today I received an email from a woman with a hilariously candid story to tell. She detailed how she mistakenly thought a police officer who responded to a loud party complaint at her neighbor’s house was in fact a stripper. She was VERY excited about said stripper and was understandably embarrassed when she learned her mistake. Fear not Mam, this is actually MUCH more common than you think! We don’t always get mistaken for strippers, but we do get comments and catcalls that can range from flattering to downright terrifying. Here is the story of the time I was once insisted I would only strip for $20’s!
It’s during the first few years after FTO that an officer does most of his or her learning. It will often leave you completely stumped and at a loss for words when you come across something that they don’t cover in the Academy or FTO and you may find yourself at a complete loss as to how to handle the situation.
For me one of these situations occurred when I was a new officer, only a few months off FTO. It was a warm summer evening when I received a noise complaint. There had been several complaints about a loud party at the address with loud music and laughing. Upon my arrival in the area, I could clearly see the location of the party. The music was blaring and vehicles were parked up and down the roadway. The house was in a normal neighborhood that I had seldom been before and all the cars were newer and expensive models. Being a busy night, I parked directly in front of the house and had decided I would give my verbal warning to the homeowner and bounce. Off to fight real crime and all that.
I walk up to the door and hear lots of women cheering and laughing. Between the laughter and the music, nobody can here me knocking. I pound harder on the front door and shine my flashlight into the living room window trying to get someone’s attention. After a minute or two a woman comes to the door. She looks like a regular soccer mom and is obviously intoxicated. She squeals and claps her hands and asks, “Are you here for the party?” Even as a new guy, I had gotten used to being greeted in strange ways by drunken people. I advised her I was here for the party and asked if she could have the homeowner step out and talk to me real quick and that it would only take a moment. Drunk lady blinks at me in that bleary eyed manner that is particular to a high level of blood alcohol content and tells me the homeowner is kind of busy, because it’s her bachelorette party and if I wanted to talk to her I would have to come inside. Sighing, I agree and step inside.
Following the weaving path of my intoxicated tour guide, I walk into the living room where all the cheering is coming from. I step inside and find somewhere around 20 to 30 women ranging from early 20’s to their mid forties all crammed in the living room and in various stages of intoxication. My guide oh so helpfully yells, “The stripper is here! Who wants to get handcuffed!?” The room explodes with catcalls and cheering and every single eye in the room is focused on me. I felt like the proverbial woman in the miniskirt walking by the construction site. My face instantly turned red as I try to salvage what is turning out to be a nightmare.
I put my hands up and try to appeal to the women by saying I was just called here for a noise complaint and as soon as I talk to the homeowner, I can let them get back to their party and leave. I realize even as I say it that it sounds like something that would come from the script of some bad 1970’s porno. I break out into a sweat and try to put on my “serious” face and assure the women that I really am a cop and was here for a noise complaint. They aren’t buying it and I’m getting even more flustered among all the calls to, “Take it off!” and, “You can cuff me!” It didn’t help that as a new guy, even though I was in my late 20’s, I had a bit of a baby face and looked much younger.
I find that when faced with either stressful or uncomfortable situations, using humor usually helps steer me out of it. Humor can often diffuse tensions and change the dynamic of the situation. It is no different than dropping that f-bomb and yelling for someone to shut up. It’s just another tool in the tool box. So I stand there, beet red and mortified, sweating and not knowing what to do to convince these intoxicated women that I really really AM the police. I feel like stomping my foot and shouting it like a child, but I guess that isn’t going to help me out any. I stand there for a second, stumped as I try to think of something to say as I’m told over and over again to “stop acting” and “Just take it off!” I jokingly reply, “You guy’s don’t want to see me strip, trust me! Besides, I only strip for $20’s!”
The room erupts in laughter and one of the women actually grabs her purse and starts digging around in it frantically. I was stunned. She REALLY was going to start handing me $20 bills! Holy shit, I think…maybe THIS is how I should supplement my retirement! Then I remember that this white boy has zero dance moves and I would probably end up hurting myself during the convulsions I refer to as dancing.
Now I’m REALLY uncomfortable and I feel like the walls are closing in as this early 40’s year old soccer mom starts waving a fistful of bills towards me and looks at me like a steak being paraded in front of a wolf. I try reason now. I laugh and say, “Come on now? You really think I’M here as a stripper? I really am a cop here for a noise complaint and just need you to please turn down the music!” It doesn’t seem to be working as I continue to get comments. I try again and joke that if they think ‘I’ am a stripper they absolutely need to get their money back.
I identify the bride to be, by all of the penis jewelry, crown and other decorations on her and ask if she would please just step outside with me so I can get her information and then I will leave them alone. One of her friends yells, “Go on! You aren’t married yet, this is your last chance to get naked with another man!” At this point, I’m done. I’m ready to just leave and call the Sergeant and tell him I WILL NOT go back to this address if people call to complain again. As I’m starting to back away while again reiterating that I’m leaving and please keep the noise down, a woman comes in from the back of the house. She’s drying her hands on her pants, so I guess she just came from a restroom. She’s looking out the window distractedly and asks, “Hey guy’s how come there is a cop car outside?” She almost bumps into me and looks up and lets out a little, “Oh” as she sees me in uniform.
The room goes dead quiet for a second and all eyes are back on me. Some in embarrassment and other’s with the reckless courage of the intoxicated. I look around for a moment and just want more than anything in the world to leave. I stammer out something about them needing to keep it down and basically turn and flee. The room erupts in laughter behind me, but I hear the stereo turned down a little. There is excited chatter and I hear snippets of inappropriate conversation as I try to walk with a small amount of dignity back to my patrol car.
I drive away just a little faster than needed and pull over up the road to add my notes to the call. I oscillate between embarrassed shock and laughing hysterically at the ridiculousness of the situation I just found myself in. The job can be tragic and frustrating and exhausting, but it is ALWAYS funny!
Also published on Medium.