Blade Edge

Computer software | Video production | My life in general

Blade Edge about header

Watch out, I may shank you

April 12th, 2009 · 10 Comments · Personal

Saturday, the day before Easter, was going to be pretty sweet. My friends Sasha and Edmund and I were taking the train up to NYC, which is roughly 1.5 hours for us from down in Jersey, and we were going to spend the afternoon at the NYC International Auto Show, take the subway down to Chinatown for some yummy Chinese dinner, then subway it back to midtown to go to our friend’s gym and swing on the trapeze again. I was especially excited for that last part, since I had a lot of fun translating my high bar skills from gymnastics to this swinging bar 30 feet above the ground, but didn’t get anything on video. This time I was going to have some video. Rock on.

So we all manage to meet on time at the train station at around 11:15am for our 11:35 train up to the city. This is by no means an easy feat for me or any of my friends. The last time we all went up to the city Sasha and my other friend Dizzle got lost on the way to the station, and we ended up having to catch a later train. Unfortunately this time around we still got stuck in a single-decker train, and not the new fancy double-deckers. This was a good thing because the double-deckers only seat in pairs, and you can’t flip the seats to face each other for groups like our odd-numbered 3 to sit and chat, but it’s also a bad thing because… well, double-deckers are just fucking cool, ok? Oh and of course there was a Devils game scheduled that day, so the train was even more jam packed that usual. I had to ask a lady to get up an move two seats back so that there was room for me to flip a two seat bench so the three of us could sit down.

So we’re all aboard and heading up to the city. There are 12 stops before we reach New York Pennsylvania Station, and when we only had 5 stops left the train lights died and we slowly coasted to a halt. Then we sat there as the conductors walked silently past to one end of the train or another. All three of us are gymnasts and coaches, so we continued to pass the time shooting the shit about coaching and gymnastics. And girls. After a while I flipped open my phone to update my status. Sasha, the internet-luddite of the group, who has noticed me doing this before, finally asks “What are you doing?” and I belligerently huddle my phone closer to me and go “I’m updating my status. Shut the fuck up.” People don’t understand, you see. But I’m used to it.

Finally, as things start to get a bit stuffy because the train’s ventilation is also out, the voice of a conductor comes on the PA announcing that we’re experiencing engine troubles but they expect to be underway in a few minutes. Well, “a few minutes” means a lot of things to a lot of people, so even when the lights came back on shortly thereafter and cheers rang throughout the cabin, it was my sole voice of dissent that rang out “we’re not moving yet.” Fortunately it was only about 10 minutes more or so before the wheel breaks unlocked, the train stuttered, and then smoothly accelerated back down the track. I considered cheering but… no. The rest of the trip was uneventful, and we pulled into Penn Station about 45 minutes late, which sucked because I hadn’t eaten after waking up and before heading to the train station because I was planning on eating some yummy Auntie Anne’s pretzels when I got there. So I was a bit hungrier than I wanted to be at that time. But I got my pretzels and was happy. Sasha caught me updating my status again.

It was rather hard to hold an umbrella while eating pretzels on a windy, rainy day in the city. Luckily the Jacob Javits Center where the Auto Show is held is only about 4-5 blocks west of Penn Station so it’s not that bad of a walk, even in the rain. However, Sasha and Edmund didn’t bring any umbrellas. They’re manly men. I just don’t like taking showers. What? So they got pretty soaked in the light but steady downpour by the time we finally entered the Javits Center and were waved through by security. I had a pocket knife clipped in my pants pocket and Sasha and I both had backpacks (Sasha had a knife too, but he stashed it in his bag prior to arrival). But the guys wouldn’t stand for either of us trying to declare anything on our person – “get in the building!” they practically shouted, waving us past with metal detector wands, wielding them like beat sticks. Okay, cool dudes we want to go inside anyways.

We checked our bags and coats for $3 apiece because the floor sign specifically shouted in big letters “NO BAGS ON SHOW FLOOR”. My friend and fellow associate Oluseyi Sonaiya was already at the show, so I fired off a text message to let him know we had finally managed to make it. However my brain was a bit on autopilot in regards to where I was sending my texts, and I sent it out to all my social sites. Ooops! I went into Sent Messages and tried to forward the text to Seyi but instead I hit Re-send. God dammit! Luckily services are smart these days – send the same message twice or within a short time span and they won’t post it. Finally I successfully forwarded the message to its intended recipient.

The whole time of course Sasha was staring at me. But that’s okay. I’m used to it.

We met up with Oluseyi briefly on his way out a while into the show, he comes waltzing over toting a camera bag, a show bag… and I ask him if he checked anything and he just shrugged “No.” Of course. I should have at least kept my camera bag, even though it was nice not to have to lug around a heavy coat.

So the Auto Show had a bit less luster than yesteryear, obviously. A couple of models that were on display on the show floor, like the Mazda RX-8, the Honda S2000, etc – were either in their last production year or outright canceled already. There weren’t half as many cool concepts on display as last year, and I walked away with significantly less photos. However the supercars were still there in decent numbers, such as Lamborghini, Spyker, Ferrari (though not directly), Koenigsegg, etc. Plus your supersports cars like Lotus, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes (although the SLR ranks up there with supercar) Porsche, etc. Funny how these guys don’t seem to be having a whole lot of trouble. We spent a good deal of time off the main show floor first, checking out the exhibit halls that didn’t require ticketed entry – there were a lot of things to do and see for just the people who walked into the building. Lambo, Aston Martin, Spyker and Koenigsegg, for example, were all displaying their cars to the general public and not on the show floor proper. The cars of the Lotus Enthusiasts Club were parked outside (but under cover of the building). Any regular joe car enthusiast could walk into the Javits Center and get a very decent fill of auto awesomeness – so that was cool. Floor passes for adults were just $14 dollars though, so it’s not like hitting the floor was hitting your wallet.

We cruised the various halls and floors of the Auto Show for about a good 5-6 hours, snapping photos, sitting in cars, and trying to navigate through the massive sea of people. The auto industry may be in trouble but you’d only know that by looking at the exhibitors, not the amount of people that were in attendance. It was easily as mobbed as last year. As well as the normal companies showing off their models (both cars and ladies), there were of course several private groups and individuals exhibiting their cars on the lower-level floor, including an auto-enthusiast club that let you pay to take a 120-mile day trip in 5 supercars, including the Ferrari F430, Ford GT, and Lambo Gallardo. It’s a tantalizing proposition, and it always causes me great pain because I want to do it and similar programs so badly. However there’s nothing to say that, saving money wisely, I couldn’t be owning my own Ferarri by the time I’m like, 60. But that would be totally cool. So, if I’m 60 and I don’t have my own supercar, I’ll probably shell out for one of these adventures. But not now. Must… resist…

Finally around 7pm we were all ready to just fall over – our poor legs were aching and none of us really ever paused to sit down much the entire time. As were were leaving we took some time to sit for a bit and rest, but really it was just enough to get us back to Penn Station in order to catch the subway to Chinatown. So we bid the Auto Show adieu and hiked the few blocks back towards Madison Square Gardens – thankfully the rain had stopped earlier in the day though it was still rather chilly out. Hence when I saw the first subway entrance onto a line I knew went to Canal Street, I quickly led Edmund and Sasha down to the platform. There was a high-pitched alarm going off, and the station’s security office was unattended, but I realized the alarm was just people with luggage exiting through the handicapped/emergency exit because the gated turnstyles wouldn’t fit their bags, and the normal turnstyles were roped off. Still, it was very high-pitched and very annoying and went on for like 5 minutes before shutting off. But by then another subway train would arrive and discharge more people who would go through and set it off again.

Now, as I would find out later, apparently Easter weekend is the time when gangs all have their initiation rights. Or something. Either way, it’s a holiday and the NYPD has a lot of officers out patrolling the streets. The Auto Show alone had groups of State Troopers wandering around the show floor. So of course the subways had both uniformed and plain-clothes undercover officers.

Neither Edmund nor Sasha were used to riding on the NYC subways, so it took quite a few minutes for me to help get everyone’s tickets as Edmund went with a MetroCard filled with $4 for a round-trip while Sasha and I just bought a $2 single-ride pass. But we’re shouting back and forth to be heard over the alarm and because Edmund was at a separate ticket machine on the other side of the security booth. Then when Edmund tried to go through the turnstyle the first time, it didn’t work so he had to swipe his card again and made it through. However that drained his card and probably looked suspicious. Sasha and I had no troubles getting through the gated turnstyle but in general we caused a fairly noticeable ruckus. That’s kind of how we roll, though. I would find out later that this activity got us watched.

And the alarm was still going off.

So we’re standing there on the platform proper, waiting for the next subway train to arrive when this black dude in a sweatshirt and sideway pull-down cap comes up behind me and goes “NYPD, is this a knife in your pocket?” he pointed down at the butt of the knife sticking out, yellow against my black pants.

“Uhm, yes that’s a knife.”

He reached down and pulled it out.

“And why would you be carrying this around?”

I smartly figured that the proper response was not “for self-defense”, because cops don’t like the idea of that at all. We’re not able to defend ourselves, because that’s why they’re around. If we defend ourselves with a weapon, we fuck up and kill someone. Only they can kill someone. So I just shrugged and went a bit more general, saying “for whatever I need it for.” Probably still not the best response, but really – was there any? Trying to disassociate yourself from the object in question only draws more suspicion upon yourself. “Oh uhm, gee I didn’t even know I was carrying that. I totally forgot it was in my pants pocket.” Yea, right.

The cop, who we’ll call Gangsta, handles my knife for a bit and then flicks his wrist, causing the blade to swing open and lock. Now, here’s where we dive into the minute legalities surrounding pocket knives. First of all, knives with blades under 4″ are not illegal (generally, anyways). My blade is under 4″. Switchblades or any kind of blade that uses a mechanism to assist in opening (commonly a spring) are classified as illegal weapons. My blade is neither a switchblade nor assisted opener, however there is one more class of knives that are considered to be illegal – gravity knives. Technically, my blade is not a gravity knife. It will not drop open when held upside down, and a thumb stud is used instead to flip open the knife, kind of like flipping a coin. However because Gangsta was able to flick the knife open with the use of centripetal force (the movement of his wrist, in this case) he could classify the knife as a gravity knife, which is specifically listed as a deadly instrument in the MTA rules of conduct.

Fabulous. I suppose this means I should really make sure all the screws that hinge my knives are tight. This one just happened to ship loose and I never bothered or really thought to tighten it up. I was until now unaware of this little gravity knife loophole. But it’s not surprising, as the thumb stud was invented to circumvent the classification of gravity knives 😛 Kind of like how you can call a silencer, which is illegal, a “sound supressor” instead.

So the cop asks me to step back over by the turnstyles, and I ask him to see his badge, because I honestly didn’t remember seeing one at the beginning and for all I know this is just some dude who likes the way my knife looks and wants it. He pulled it out and it looked legit, so I let him lead me over back towards the turnstyles, and right under the box containing the alarm siren. Which was still going off. The whole time he kept asking me the usual questions after seeing my ID – where are you from, why are you in the city, blah blah blah. Shortly his plain-clothes partner, an older and rather rotund Indian-looking fellow who we’ll call Indy, shows up and began asking me the same questions as well. The two obviously didn’t communicate well, or maybe that’s just their way of trying to poke holes in my story via cross-reference. I got patted down at least twice and had to identify several articles on my person more than once – to the same cop. Maybe they just couldn’t hear me either. Indy had to call in their find of the dangerous and deadly gravity knife, and of course his only means of entry and exit onto the subway platform was through the fucking emergency gate. That damn alarm never shut off. If I wasn’t deaf before I am now.

Poor Sasha and Edmund just had to stand off towards the edge of the platform and watch. Sasha managed to surreptitiously slip the knife that was now clipped to his back pocket (but hidden under his sweatshirt) into his jacket pocket, just in case. Indy returned and, after setting off the alarm again, asked me to turn around and face the metal fence. I had a feeling what was going to come next, but it was still a bit surprising to find my hands taken behind my back and cuffed. Not at all roughly or even very tight, mind you – Gangsta and Indy were both quite satisfied and placated with my compliance. Indy then informed me that I had to be transported to the station, which I knew was going to happen now because once you’re successfully detained by police, they of course want to make double and triple sure there’s nothing else they can possibly charge you with. Oddly enough, I just realized today that although I had the cuffs on, they never once read me my rights. Edmund, who didn’t have a knife at all, came over when Gangsta waved at them, and was charged with looking after my things for me, including my camera bag and a couple of articles that I didn’t need to remain with me.

Of course by this time the only thought going through my head was the fact that a nice Chinese dinner and trapeze swinging probably were not going to be on the agenda later on.

Before I was taken away to the cop car back topside (which was still enroute), Gangsta managed to catch a girl wandering by with a knife clipped into her pocket as well. They went pretty much through the same routine as me, up until the point where he was unable to flick open her knife. I didn’t get a good look at it so I can’t tell what kind of a release mechanism it had, but I don’t know if he actually bothered to open it. From what I understood of their conversation and what little I could understand of Indy telling me over the blaring wail of the alarm, the girl might have gotten off with just a court summons because her knife wasn’t considered a deadly weapon. But I was led away by Indy before Gangsta and the girl finished up, so I have no idea.

Topside and to the waiting police car, I helped myself into the backseat – having my hands cuffed doesn’t affect my balance all that much, personally. Thankfully the bench in the back of this cruiser was cushioned, as when I sat down I realized my hands were actually cuffed rather awkwardly since I was still wearing my yellow bike gloves. That was kind of funny, considering that when I would get pulled over in my car (before I learned to take them off prior to the cop walking up) they’d usually be the first thing that cops noticed. “How come you’re wearing racing gloves?” they would ask. *sigh* I found it curious neither Indy or Gangsta ever made me take them off, considering they sport leather-wrapped hardened knuckles. So while it was rough finding a comfortable position, the seat padding was very thick and helped a lot.

Sitting next to me was a fellow who’s name I would learn was Paul. Apparently Paul was on his way to visit a friend, one with who he had a history of saying he would visit and end up not showing for some reason or another. Of course this time it had to be that it was because he was arrested. His crime? He was trying to swipe his MetroCard and the turnstyles locked him out (like Edmund). The train was coming so in desperation he tried to slide under the normal turnstyles and was nabbed by the plain-clothes for pulling a “Derek Jeter”. I swear that’s what they called it. Into the car piled Indy in the drivers seat and riding shotgun was the cop that nabbed Paul, who we’ll call Kid since I found out later he was a few years younger than me. Sasha and Edmund surfaced as well from the subway to watch me drive off; they couldn’t follow and the cops were unwilling to give them the station address. Sasha had to call 411 with the station number.

So despite being arrested, in handcuffs, sitting in the back of a police car and heading towards the police station, things weren’t all so bad. Apparently, because I had told the officers repeatedly that I had no prior record or open warrants they were willing to go the extra mile on my behalf (and Paul’s too)  because we were cooperative and file for a DAT, which is a Desk Appearance Ticket. It involved more paperwork for them than a normal booking, but allowed us to walk within 3-4 hours and scheduled us for a later court appearance. Plus they were both on duty all night so they had the time. Otherwise we would have had to go straight before a judge – which probably would have meant spending 2 nights in jail since the courts would have been closed for Easter.

We reached the station, which ironically enough was located on Canal Street just a few blocks from Chinatown. As they led us down the stairs to the subway and the station underneath the street, Indy talked me through the booking process. They stood us before the desk sergeant, who waited for them to fill out some short papers and then looked them over. Paul was cleared through to the cell block but the sergeant literally rose an eyebrow and gave a serious look at Indy when he noticed my New Jersey ID. Turns out the DAT was only eligible for residents of New York City. The sergeant took another look at the form before finally passing it back, saying “I believe you filled this out wrong. Check it.” Indy quickly pulled me to the side and explained that he needed a NYC address. I racked my brain and could only come up with one possibility, a fellow stuntman from the Batman show who I hadn’t really talked to in a few years, for no other reason than we just hadn’t kept in touch. But I still had his number.

The sergeant cleared us through and after removing my handcuffs, Indy had me look up my friend’s number on my cell phone and we placed the call on the station land line that he thankfully answered, though it was a bit awkward because we hadn’t talked in a while and here I am calling him from the police station asking for his address and not being able to explain to him the full story. He came through though, and I’ll owe him for it. I jotted down his address and handed it to Indy, who then escorted me to accompany Paul in the center cell block (of three).

Over the next 2-3 hours, Indy and Kid worked at the desks outside the cells, getting our papers in order, digitally fingerprinting us, taking our mug shots and keeping Paul and I both updated on their progress working through the system. They were cool with bathroom breaks and Kid even got me a bottle of Pepsi to drink after I started to get a little thirsty, and after he offered for like the third time. I mainly just laid out on one of the wooden benches running along the back and side of the cell, with a metal railing above them, using my jacket as a pillow. Honestly at this point I was happy just to get off my damn feet. I was walking to the Auto Show, standing at the Auto Show, walking to the subway, standing at the subway, sitting awkwardly in the car, standing before the sergeant… it was so nice to lay down. Whenever Indy or Kid would ask me something I’d sit up to respond respectfully, but that was about it. Paul was the talkative prisoner type, so I ended up listening to most of his life story. He was a cool guy – I still kept my eye on him though.

At one point Indy left and then came back to tell me Sasha and Edmund had shown up to wait for me, but he couldn’t let them wait inside the station or out in the subway. So they had to leave and ended up walking the rest of the way to Chinatown. I figured at the time, and confirmed later, that they had walked all the way down from 34th street because there was no way either of them would have wanted to get back on the subway. I’m just happy they were able to find out I was okay and would be out in a few hours. Indy commented a few times afterwards that I had some really awesome friends, which led me to wonder what kind of crappy friends he has that would abandon him to be carried away to prison.

At some other time Gangsta showed up carrying another knife.

Paul was released about 30 minutes ahead of me; we exchanged handshakes, I told him he should visit his family tomorrow like he said he might and Kid tossed me a goodbye as he led Paul out, saying “so long, Sikora.” Kid also had to do a little circumventing on Paul’s behalf, seeing as Paul actually had an open case in his name. However the case was old and misfiled, Date of Birth attached to that case was incorrect – the year was wrong. Therefore as far as Kid was concerned, it was some other Paul.

Another arrestee showed up later, and they almost put him in my cell but Indy stopped them and had him put in the cell next to mine, mouthing to me “he’s a total ass” in regards to the arrestee before going back to work at his desk.

Finally, Indy was able to give me a paper to sign, acknowledging that I understood the instructions on it, which were to appear before a judge in one month’s time. Several copies later and he was able to escort me out of the cell block and hand me back the rest of my stuff – minus the knife of course. That’ll have to stay in evidence until I go to court for my arraignment. I walked back topside and my cellphone beeped an incoming text message at me, which was from Sasha a while ago: “I hope u r updatin right now cause this shit finaly got interestin!” Yea, my brain was certainly generating status updates all night long, however I doubt that even my good behavior could have coerced a cell phone into my hands, and there was no reception down there anyways. And texting in handcuffs earlier on might have been… difficult.

A quick walk down Canal Street reunited me with Sasha and Edmund. Unfortunately it was now almost 11:30 at night and no restaurants were open, so we had to settle for a McDonalds… that was in Chinatown. So I guess I got my Chinese dinner, if not a Chinese meal. After a nice full meal, considering I hadn’t really eaten since Auntie Anne’s before the Auto Show because I was saving up for a big dinner, we walked back to the Canal Street station to catch the subway back to Penn Station. We really had no choice, seeing as the last train to leave on our line back to NJ was going to depart somewhere between 1 and 2am, and it was already past 12 by the time we left McD’s. There was no way we could walk back in time, and none of us are fans of cabs – although we might be now.

We bought our tickets as fast as possible, despite the station being pretty much deserted. Edmund and I both made it through the gated turnstyle, but Sasha got locked out and had to walk down to the security booth with his receipt to get buzzed in through the emergency door. It was out of sight of us, so we didn’t know when he would come down to the platform. Turns out it was just as the subway train was closing its doors and pulling away. So we had to wait for the next train. When it arrived Sasha and I boarded straight on, but somehow Edmund wasn’t right behind us, and as the door chime sounded we both heard Edmund exclaim in surprise and turned around to see him standing on the other side of the door looking stricken as the train pulled away. I honestly have no idea how he couldn’t have made it into the car in time.

We reach Penn Station and disembark, then wait for Edmund to show up on the next train. There’s no service on the platform obviously, so we can’t call him. He does catch the next train and I lead them both to the New Jersey Transit area, where we see that the 1:18am NJ train is already in the boarding process on Track 9E. I pray that the “E” is a malfunction of the board and not some new track designation I’ve never seen before in my many trips to NYC over the years, and rush down to Track 9. After confirming with the conductors standing outside that it’s the train we need to be on, we scramble aboard not 5 minutes before the doors close. It would have really sucked to be stuck in the city waiting for the next train… which I learned after I got home would have been at 6:07am.

So we were all rather disappointed that the subway snafu prevented us from hitting the trapeze gym for some swinging, and while Sash and Edmund discovered a nice new Chinese restaurant to eat at, I had to waste away the time in a jail cell. The train ride home was rather uneventful, until once again we had about 5 stops left and we were held up because of track maintenance further on down the line. It didn’t last as long as the engine failure, maybe only 15-20 minutes of sitting around. We got back to our cars at the station and now the only task left was to get home safely. There were two cop cars on the route home, but neither of them decided to take an interest in me, thankfully.

I’ve already gone through and tightened down the hinge screws on the rest of my knives so they can no longer fall into the gravity knife category, and I need to be more careful in where I openly carry a knife as well. For example, I can’t find anywhere on the NJ Transit site that says a pocketknife can’t travel with me on NJT trains. Heck I pack one in my checked luggage so I have it on trips. I’ve turned some over numerous times to security people to hold for me until I exit a building. I’m obviously not going to just stop carrying a knife. It may not be as useful as carrying around a Leatherman like a lot of people but it’s certainly not as bulky. I’m also not about to abandon my belief in taking responsibility for my own safety and well-being when traveling.

Of course I’m not too keen about serious jail time either. In my eyes it would be rather inconvenient and annoying, in a lot of other people’s eyes it would no doubt be somewhat worse. So we’ll have to see if I’m forced to give up the subway while in NYC based upon what happens when I return to the city for my hearing next month.

Tags: ···

10 Comments so far ↓

  • carl

    wow, crazy story drew!!

  • Oluseyi

    Dude. You needed a number in NYC and didn't think to call ME?!

    That's pretty messed up, the stress the cops put you through. At least you didn't have to spend two nights in jail.

    Next time you need a New York address, or a place to crash, call me.

  • Dave

    Wow, that just sucks. Seems like you have some similar views on cops as I do.

    We have a right to defend ourselves by *natural law*. It's total bullshit that they would detain you, take your property, and keep themselves busy with you for several hours while actual dangerous people were roaming the street. Kudos to you for remaining calm and respectful throughout.

  • Gaiiden

    Ooops. I had a nagging feeling there was someone I was forgetting 😛 I'm so used to talking to you online and stuff I never think of where you are physically in the world, you know? That's too funny

  • carl

    wow, crazy story drew!!

  • Oluseyi

    Dude. You needed a number in NYC and didn't think to call ME?!

    That's pretty messed up, the stress the cops put you through. At least you didn't have to spend two nights in jail.

    Next time you need a New York address, or a place to crash, call me.

  • Dave

    Wow, that just sucks. Seems like you have some similar views on cops as I do.

    We have a right to defend ourselves by *natural law*. It's total bullshit that they would detain you, take your property, and keep themselves busy with you for several hours while actual dangerous people were roaming the street. Kudos to you for remaining calm and respectful throughout.

  • Gaiiden

    Ooops. I had a nagging feeling there was someone I was forgetting 😛 I'm so used to talking to you online and stuff I never think of where you are physically in the world, you know? That's too funny

  • Judgment Day

    […] – although I will be going to see Salvation later on tonight. I’m referring instead to my previous escapades in New York City. Today was the day I returned to face a judge and find out what kind of sentence […]

  • No-Fly List Candidate

    […] going to get a real hoot & holler out of this one, especially after reading the story of how I got arrested in NYC for carrying a knife onto the subway (in case you didn’t know). In some ways, this little […]

Leave a Comment