VANCOUVER, B.C. — We took a 3-day, one-way cruise from San Diego for our 40th anniversary.
Canada seemed like Southern California because the day we arrived, a gangster recently released from a U.S. prison was gunned down in his Vancouver driveway. The Canadian press had no qualms about labeling him a gangster either.
The only difference from California murders is that the deceased was originally from India. My gangster knowledge consists of the Mafia, Bloods, Crips, and members of the Cartel. It was odd learning the kingpin’s name was Ranjit Singh Cheema.
Ranjit’s mother said he had turned his life around. (Yawn) I guess the opposing gangsters didn’t get the memo and offed him. Not getting the word on time makes me think of that AT&T commercial. Maybe the gang only had 2-G phones. “Oh no, Ranjit went straight? Our bad.”
In Canada I was interested in visiting micro-breweries and checking out legal Cuban cigars. My wife wanted to see the sights. We went sightseeing.
Outside the Vancouver Art Gallery we walked right into a May 1 “Occupy Vancouver” demonstration. A woman, microphone in hand, gave a rambling account of being molested as a youth. What? I thought the “Occupy” movement was about money and class warfare.
One large banner urged the release of Iranian prisoners. Another banner implored everyone to go on strike. I might be wrong, but I thought being employed was a requirement for striking. Why would you say, ‘I refuse to work,” if you aren’t working in the first place?
The police watching the demonstration profiled us as soon as we walked by. A Vancouver cop with a big smile figured we didn’t belong and asked us where we were from. I badged him and soon we were talking cop-to-cop.
He said, “Things are quiet now, but if the demonstrators get rowdy we just throw bars of soap at them. They disperse because they don’t like soap.” The officer had been an English Bobby for 10 years and with Vancouver for seven. Cops are cops are cops, no matter where you are.
Later, while we were waiting for a bus, I noticed a woman walking back and forth. She had on boots, fishnet stockings, and what used to be called “hot pants.” She kept giving us the “bad eye.” Lord forgive me, but I profiled her as a hooker.
My wife was busy looking up the street for the bus and hadn’t noticed her. The pacing woman walked up to us and told my wife to move on. The hooker said, “I’m working. This is my corner.”
Even though I was in Canada, I took out my badge for the second time that day and said, “No, this is my corner.” Wide eyed, she apologized profusely, but I suspect the apology was motivated more by fear than remorse. She wasn’t smart enough to figure we were tourists in spite of us being at a bus stop carrying a camera.
When the bus arrived and we got on, I saw her give me the finger. I might have made the same gesture right back at her, or maybe I was adjusting my glasses. I don’t know if my wife was flattered or angered at being mistaken for a prostitute. Did the hooker think I was a pimp? How dare she profile me?
Basinski is a retired Chula Vista police officer and investigator for the District Attorney’s office.