Saturday afternoon in the North End and all was well.
Thousands of strollers and tourists crowding the sidewalks. Many more sipping coffee at cafes or waiting in long lines to get into favored restaurants. At Mike’s, the line was so long and so thick with people, strollers had to go off the sidewalk into the street to get by.
Automobile traffic was, to say the least, heavy. Passing through Hanover Street was near to impossible.
In fact, at about 5:30 p.m., traffic was backed up on both sides of Hanover Street with a long line of taxis and automobiles on both sides of the street at an absolute standstill.
At the nexus of the difficulty driving down Hanover Street, coming near to the corner of Hanover and Parmenter streets, was the problem that allowed nothing to move.
Two Boston police officers were having a chat. Their police cars were double parked behind one another in the northern lane of Hanover.
With the double parked police cars blocking one of Hanover Street’s two lanes, what is generally controlled chaos turned into a typical Hanover Street traffic jam of the first order.
First and foremost, the police officers having a chat as the traffic came to a stop were not guilty of a crime. Rather, they were guilty of not using common sense and a bit of courtesy. Yet they stood there imperious, the law, the wearers of the badge, chatting while traffic came to a complete stop.
Obviously, no one viewing this scene – and it lasted for perhaps 10 minutes – was going to honk their horns or roll down their windows to complain.
After all, these were Boston Police having a nice chat as traffic backed up and down Hanover Street on both sides late n a Saturday afternoon when the place was packed with people and choked to near suffocation with traffic.
Some of us thought it might be a good idea to call District A-1 police station to request police to tell the chatting officers to move their police cars, to allow traffic to move but on second thought, this was not such a good idea. After all, the police would think we were being wise-guys, when, in fact, it was the police who were being wise-guys.
At one point, one of the chatting officers broke away – not to move his police car- but rather, to place a traffic ticket on an automobile parked in a valet space. The second officer trotted across Hanover Street and disappeared into the crowd.
By any stretch of the imagination, this was not great police work.
Even police must respect the fact that Hanover Street is a traffic mess and that unless someone has been shot, stabbed, beaten, robbed or otherwise, it is not a good idea to double park two police cars in one lane at the height of a Saturday afternoon.
It is also unacceptable that they indulged in a chit chat as traffic came to a complete stop.
In the general scheme of things, their actions don’t rise to the level of a problem.
It is just sad that in this instance, like in so many others, the police became a bigger problem than what they came to check – and this by itself is a problem that must also be solved.
Everyone in the North End must be courteous and show respect – even Boston Police officers doing their duty.