Protective Policing

Parents, politicians, patzers, teacher unions and lawmakers — who are the only ones who have the power to do anything about it — have been hollering for years about “the children”! We must help “the children”! While they defund public schools and send our tax dollars to private schools that teach racism and religious bigotry. 

I’m not going to argue here. I’m going to tell you what happened to me and my cross-country team once, years ago, on and off an Indian reservation in Arizona.

We were coming back from the Buckeye Invitational — a big cross-country meet, with teams from 25 schools, hundreds of runners, from AAA down to us — a little class B school on the rez. 

I don’t recall perzackly where we finished, but we did ourselves proud — a little school from the reservation, running against AAA and AA schools from Phoenix and Tucson.

After my runners came in, one young man collapsed in a seizure, on that stony desert. His whole body was twitching, down to his fingers.

I ran over to the Buckeye coach — the host — and asked him to call medical help for my runner.

That fat White man came over and looked down at my young man, 16 years old, seizing on the ground, and that White man laughed, and walked away.


Are there levels of furious?

I wanted to beat that fat old White man over the head with a tire iron.

Probably not a good idea, Coach.

So. The team loads our man onto the van, and we head back to the rez.

I am in my mid-30s, teaching English and music on the rez. I like it there. I like the kids in my classes. I love my runners.

To get the team to the cross-country meet, I’d got up at 2 a.m. and drove more than 100 miles to pick up the kids in their villages, before we headed north to Buckeye.

Now I’m speeding home from Buckeye to the rez, kids in the van.

I admit it: I was doing 80.

A cop pulls us over.

We find a pullout. I stumble across gravel toward him, in my shorty-short running shorts, Warriors T-shirt, beaded headband, ponytail halfway down to my butt.

He asks for my driver’s license and I give it to him.
“Mr. Kahn,” he says, “do you know how fast you were going?”


“You’re driving 80 with a vanload of kids?”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

He fixed a cop glare on me.

“We’re coming back from the Buckeye Invitational,” I said. “I been up since 2 a.m. picking up my kids in the villages. When we get back to the rez it’ll take me another 100 miles to drop them off again, to their moms and dads.”

The cop stared at me.

It was obvious I was telling the truth.

In my short pants and pony tail and headband and no shoes.

“Mr. Kahn,” the cop said, “I’m going to give you a warning. But I want you to tell your team that you got a ticket. Because we don’t want them to think it’s OK to drive like that.”

“You’re absolutely right, Sir,” I said. “Thank you so much.”

So the cop wrote me a warning, and tore it off his little metal pad and handed it to me, and kept a copy, and I hobbled back across the ouchy white pebbles to the bus. Opened the door. Stepped in.

“Woo-hoo!” the team was howling. “Kahn got a ticket!”

“Fuck you, I did not,” I said. “It was only a warning.”
I passed it around.

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