The Arcata Eye, the newspaper of Arcata, California, has the best Police Log there is. In the tradition of of the lively newspapers of the Old West, editor Kevin Hoover translates simple facts into highly accessible accounts, imbued with plot and original vocabulary. Strange apologies sometimes appear.
Hoover makes use of Lewis Carroll’s term “slithy tove.” He may write: “8:41 p.m. No mere passenger-side window can prevent a slithy tove from getting its paws on an iPod left in a pickup truck in Valley West.”
Or “2:56 a.m. A behoodied slithy tove tried to get into cars at Fourth and F streets, including one that a person was sitting in. The occupant locked the doors and called police. The tove roved elsewhere.”
Or “4:55 p.m. A Grant Avenue resident reported the theft of two lawn chairs from her patio. Her mistake was allowing any unsecured property with any vestigial value whatsoever to be visible from the street and their unrelenting swarms of roaming slithy tove opportunivores.”
Arcata’s a charming town, with a wonderful farmer’s market. It provides scope for a police log, with a large cast of diverse characters and situations. The marijuana trade is frequently mentioned, as are doughnuts, bongo players, and the students at the state University. Cows, foxes, and raccoons make regular appearances.
Some entries are stories:
7:39 p.m. I don’t like the way you park. Let’s argue.
5:44 a.m. A man and his dog misunderstood the basic mission of a Uniontown supermarket. He apparently thought it was a place where you go in with your pit bull, yelling, to stroll out with a bottle of liquor. Followed, tased and tamed, the bellowing boozer was arrested. His dog took master’s cue and bit someone, and was quarantined.
11:15 a.m. After yard gnomes disappeared from a Wilson Street residence, another neighborhood watch was born.
8 p.m. A man reported a UFO on Janes Road. It was a remote control helicopter.
Apologies occasionally appear. Most do not require SorryWatch analysis. An entry in the January 6, 2013 log says:
7:24 p.m. A caller said that after a Spear Avenue neighbor apologized for playing loud music, two gunshots rang out. But later investigation cast doubt on the report.
That could happen anywhere. In the same log we find a more Arcata-specific entry:
10:32 a.m. An illegal camper who built a fire inside an ancient redwood known as Treebeard set the tree in the Community Forest ablaze. Between Arcata Fire and the rain, Treebeard is likely to survive, though wafting embers kept Trail 15 closed for several days.
On other days there are more complicated apologies:
1:14 a.m. If stupidity emitted gravitrons, there’d be a supermassive black hole in the area of L. K. Wood Boulevard and Granite Avenue. For it was there that a driver oh-so-allegedly aimed his mighty vehicle at a fellow mortal of the pedestrian persuasion, this in order to establish the ascendancy of his will over the person who didn’t have a couple of tons of metal at his immediate disposal. As the almost-roadkill called police, the driver hopped out of the car and apologized vehemently, if rather unconvincingly. The driver and someone else there acknowledged that the driver had been piloting the vehicle recklessly, but not trying to run anyone over. So that would mean… the apologies were for not trying to kill the person? “Strongly admonished.”
9:06 p.m. A Buttermilk Lane resident saw a car blaze past her house on the narrow ribbon of asphalt at an estimated 60 mph and took impulsive action, throwing a rock at the car. The well-aimed rock glanced off the windshield, leaving a chip, and the car screeched to a halt. Emerging from the vehicle in menacing knit cap and plaid jacket, the driver bitched out the speeder-weary resident. She apologized for the rock throwage and explained that she was tired of cars speeding past her home. But the plaid-clad rocketeer was unyielding in his righteous victimization, pledging to call the cops. Fine, she said, you do that. I’ll tell them how fast you were going. The driver then said that he was going to come back with his mom and an attorney, and left.
7:18 p.m. Even more effective at compounding conflict than banging on the walls is flinging dogshit over the fence into the yard of the pet owner. An Ariel Way resident said she’s done this and that the poo-boomeranging neighbs were being threatening. Moments later she called back and said they had come over and apologized, perhaps accepting the inevitability of karmic retribution.
5:54 a.m. His navigational faculties scrambled by a surfeit of cocktails, a man with fashionably oversized trousers wandered into the home of a Seventh Street resident he didn’t know, and when confronted, assaulted the resident. Pushed out of the house, the alcohol-reeking man continued to loiter there. The resident again contacted him, and Baggy McStinko said he didn’t remember the assault, but apologized for it anyway. Found near Seventh and K streets, bibulous B-Mack was arrested on an assault charge.
But an apology in the log, which recently caught our eye, is an example of an unpleasant phenomenon also found in other places:
9:28 p.m. A Union Street apartment dweller visited a neighbor, who attempted to kiss her. This made her uncomfortable, and she tried to leave, but he stopped her and apologized, then let her leave. She called police, who arrested the man on an assault charge.
Did he really think compelling her to listen to an apology would fix things? Attempted non-consensual kissing isn’t good, but holding people against their will is much worse.
By the way, also, I think I should mention, people, it NEVER WORKS.
Here at SorryWatch, we usually say that people ought to apologize. But a forcible apology, inflicted on someone trying to get away, does not count as an apology. Force invalidates the apology. It also creates a new and usually worse offense.
Aaah. That was upsetting. We’ll leave you with this:
5:22 p.m. A five-year-old superhero was reported missing at an Alliance Road apartment complex. Spiderman was soon found under a bed.