Today I was climbing a tree outside the UCPD. I have been wondering for some time about the university's policy regarding this, and had even climbed outside UCPD before. Despite this, I try to exercise caution when climbing publicly, so I would briefly stop when somebody came in or out and wait for them to pass. Finally, as I was descending, a female officer walked out, staring at her iPhone. She was walking on this sidewalk, though I was much lower in the tree when she passed:
After watching her walk about 10 yards away, I figured I might as well take the opportunity to finally learn the policy and dropped out of the tree. The exchange went something like this, with changes in the officer's name denoting alterations in demeanor--I spoke only to one officer:
Unpleasant Officer: [walking slowly toward me, talking into shoulder walkie] "...code XXX"
Unpleasant Officer: "Are you a student here?"
Suspicious Officer: [into walkie] "Yeah... he just came out of a tree." [to me] What were you doing in that tree?"
Me: "I was climbing it."
Pissed Officer: "Do you know you're not supposed to be up there?"
Me: [holding out my gloved hands] "I climb trees all the time, I didn't know there was any rule against it."
At this point, three other officers--seriously, three--walk out of the UCPD and effectively surround me.
Pissed Officer: "Do you have ID?"
Me: [probably smiling like a smartass, but only appreciating the irony since my ID was stolen the day before] "No."
Mistrustful Pissed Officer: "You don't have any ID?"
Me: "Not on me."
She takes down my name, her tone and demeanor embodying skepticism.
Skeptical Officer: "What's your ID number?"
Me: "ID number? My Driver's License number?"
S.O.: [looking impatient, like she didn't just ask a student for one of the seventy different types of numbers by which we're identified] "Yes, your ID number."
At this point I take a moment to look thoughtful and concentrative. I know my license number like the back of my hand [as any good citizen should!], but I have no desire to let her know this because I'm reasonably sure she believes I'm giving her false information. Eventually, I painstakingly manage to get it out, and then a second time when she asks me to repeat it--this time in under three seconds. Bear in mind there are still two other officers standing by [the fourth having abandoned the situation altogether], though they've moved over near the golf carts to talk between themselves after realizing that their perp is a recreational tree-climbing college student. They will completely give up out of boredom about a minute later and retreat inside.
Arithmetically Challenged Officer: [talking slowly to herself, but loudly enough that the nearby officers can hear] "That's
too many numbers..." [continues writing something]
Me: [inappropriately grinning like an idiot] "...okay."
A.C.O.: "Alright you seem a little sarcastic, so I don't know if you were aware or not [gestures to my gloves] that you weren't supposed to be climbing these. What were you doing in THIS tree?" [gestures to the tree 5 feet from the police department]
Me: "I just got froyo across the street and these were the closest trees. I climbed that one over there before I went up this one."
A.C.O.: "Why would you climb trees?"
Me: "Didn't you ever climb trees as a kid?"
I was vainly attempting to appeal to her sense of childlike wonder. Besides, it's not like I was peeping in on people.
Insta-Pissed-Officer: "That's besides the point."
Me: "Well not really; I climbed trees as a kid and just never stopped."
Really-Annoyed-Now-Officer: "You're free to go. You may or may not be contacted by Student Conduct regarding this matter." [The implication presumably being that if I didn't give her false information, I would hear from Student Conduct]
Me: "Okay. That's not too many numbers, though." [pointing to her notepad]
R.A.N.O.: "Well I'll be running it-- [mumbles and trails off as she walks away]
Granted, I was smiling like a smartass the whole time, but good-naturedly considering the circumstances. Even still, this was only because Officer Hardass called out three additional officers for an open and shut case of motherfucking tree-climbing. I'd also like to reiterate: she did not see me at all until I willingly jumped out of the tree an entirely inoffensive and non-threatening distance behind her. She literally almost walked under me [it would have been more forgivable if she had, in fact], a person sitting in the lowest branch of a tree not 10 feet from the UCPD exit. A person donning red pants, a bright blue shirt wearing an orange backpack. She was probably just laying a trap--and I literally fell into it! Blast!
I stand by my climbing-turned-social experiment! I don't regret the result of the first "strike" on my record for tree-climbing and happily note the experience here for posterity. Besides, maybe she was texting a co-worker about solving a crime and that's why she didn't notice my practically-camouflaged-self until I jumped into her lap. It's not like I was wearing anything conspicuous.