I stood to the side of where the line forms, waiting for my coffee. Mine always takes the longest because I get a decaf drip coffee, which has to be brewed on demand into the cup. I glanced out the front door, and a pit formed in my stomach. My instinct was to run. Leave the coffee, leave the Starbucks, leave the area.
The first thing I noticed was the uniform. It was completely black. There was no insignia on the front, but the belt held all the tale tale signs of identification. I saw the billy club, and then then the gun. I started to sweat. When I looked up and noticed the face of the officer, I felt silly for having felt so threatened. I was looking at a middle aged woman with the wrinkled face of someone who had lived a hard life. Her hair was cut short and would have been gray if not for the uncharacteristic reddish brown dye that didn't seem to fit her face.
There was nothing threatening about this person except for the uniform. As she passed me, I saw the insignia on her shoulder. Aurora Police. I wasn't comforted by seeing this. Only by the what I could see from neck up. Everything else about this presence felt military, threatening.
My coffee had finished brewing. I walked to the counter, thankful that the officer had placed her order and had moved to the other end of the store to wait for her beverage at the bar. I still felt shaken. I needed a cigarette. I took my coffee and walked out the front door. As I glanced around the parking lot, I felt as though I had been immediately transported back in time, and for a moment, everything felt absurd.
I expected to see one of the now familiar, military looking police vehicles, new and intimidating. Instead what I saw was a late 80s or early 90s Jeep Cherokee with Aurora Police imprinted on the side. It's rare to see one of these vehicles in the general population. You certainly don't see them as part of a modern police force. What is going on here?
As I sat and smoked a cigarette, I kept looking at this vehicle. Clearly it couldn't be real. The officer could not have been real. I took a picture of the vehicle, just to be sure I wasn't hallucinating. I guess it's just a true throwback Thursday. The officer got in the Jeep and drove away. I watched her as she drove past, but she never glanced my way. I still think I may have made the whole thing up.