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| ART BUCHWALD

Oh, What a Difference Manners Could Make

April 15, 1999|ART BUCHWALD

Police in New York City have been ordered to be polite. They are even carrying cards telling them what to say to citizens. Mayor Rudy Giuliani maintains if police are more polite, then city dwellers will react in kind.

I've set up several situations that might happen if everyone is nice to each other.

"Sir, were you thinking of holding up this bank?"

"Yes, Officer. That is what I had on my mind."

"If you did that, I would have to arrest you and bring you to justice."

"I agree that it will put you to a great deal of trouble, Officer, but as John Dillinger once said, 'A bank is the only sure place where the money is.' "

"Sir, what had you planned to do with the gun you are holding?"

"I was going to use it to frighten the employees."

"That's not a good idea. But if you will excuse me, I just saw someone run a red light.

"Forgive me for asking, but why did you go through a red light?"

"That's a dumb question. I went through the light because I didn't see it."

"That's nothing to be ashamed of, sir. Many of us spend our lives not seeing red lights."

"You are a very understanding policeman."

"All New York City policemen are understanding. We feel people's pain. If you'll excuse me, I see several gentlemen stealing a BMW from the curb."

"All right. Please put that car back where you found it. Don't you know it's a crime to take someone else's transportation in the confines of New York City?"

"We didn't know that, Officer. We thought if you found an automobile on the street and it was unoccupied, it was yours."

"You've been misinformed. I must charge you with car theft."

"OK, but I have a right to make one telephone call. Do you have change for a dollar?"

"Here is a quarter from my own pocket. I pray the person you are calling is in."

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