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The Hokey Pokey

I mentioned the “Hokey Pokey” incident in a recent post about my past partners.  Since several people have asked me to elaborate, I’ll do so.  I’m pretty sure I posted this on Facebook earlier, but anyway…


In the late 1980s, I was working in Patrol out of the East Precinct of the Seattle Police Department.  My partner at the time was Bill Brandner.

Our precinct adopted a bar as our own.  Charlies on Broadway, 217 Broadway Avenue East.

We frequented Charlies for coffee when we were working and for other libations when we were off duty.

The bar at Charlie’s was Cheers-like.  We knew all the regulars who went there and called each other by our first names.

There was Kevin, the Boston-born cab driver, and John, the recently divorced bank manager.  Both were great guys, and we had fun swapping stories whenever we were there.

Two guys at night tended the bar.  Dave Roduin, an aspiring writer who later went to work in the Starbucks corporate headquarters, and Tim Sweeny, a Vietnam veteran who flew spotter planes in the war, had a Master’s in finance but landed at Charlie’s.  Both great guys who became great friends to us and all the other East Precinct officers.

One night Bill and I were in the bar at closing, as we were wont to do.  Tim Sweeny spoke to me.

“Man,” he said. “I thought I was in trouble the other night.  I was driving home on the lake,” he lived near Seward Park near Lake Washington, “ and I was going a little fast.”

Lake Washington Boulevard follows the shores of the lake and is a very scenic drive.  The speed limit on the boulevard is 25 miles per hour.  Tim lived on a house just off the boulevard near Seward Park.

“I was cruising along after work,” Sweeny continued, “when I shot past a south-end car.”

Tim knew all the officers in the East Precinct, but didn’t know any in the precinct to the south.

“I saw him start out after me,” he continued, “and when I got to a curve, I turned the corner and shut my lights off.  I saw him fly past the street I was on.

“I’m afraid he’ll be waiting for me down there,” he said.

“You’d better be careful,” I said to him, laughing.

A few nights later, Bill and I were in Charlies at closing again.  It was a beautiful summer night.

“Tim,” I said.  “Are you going to take the lake home tonight?”

“Probably,” he said.

“We got a call,” I said, and we left.

I was driving.  Once we got to our car, I headed for Lake Washington Boulevard.

We were outside our precinct, but I backed into a spot near Mount Baker Park.  Then we waited.

About twenty minutes later, I heard the unmistakable sound of Tim’s MG convertible traveling down the boulevard well over the speed limit.

I waited until he passed and then took out after him.  I didn’t turn my headlights on until I was right behind him.  When I did, I heard his car slow by compression.  Then I turned on our red and blue lights. Again, his engine slowed as he pulled to the curb.

“Let’s let him sweat a minute,” I said to Bill.

After a moment, I switched on the PA system.

“Driver of the car,” I barked, “get your hands up where I can see them!”

Tim’s hands shot into the air, his convertible top down.

“Reach outside the car and open the door!” I ordered.

He did.

“Step out of the vehicle!”

Again, he did.

He looked over his shoulder at us.

“Look forward!” I commanded.

“Now, walk backward to the rear of your vehicle!”

He followed the instructions.

“Place your hands on the rear of the car!”

Again, he did.

“Step away from the vehicle!”

He complied.

“Now, put your right foot in!”

He did.

“Now, put your right foot out!”

Again, he complied.

“Now, put your right foot in!”

He did.

“Now, put your right foot out!”

Again, he did.

“Now, you shake it all about!”

By that time, Bill could take no more.  He laughed so hard he opened his door and fell on the ground.

Tim looked back at us, an incredulous look on his face until he finally realized it was us.

“You asshole!” he yelled, “ I thought you were going to shoot me!”

The story of the Hokey Pokey spread quickly.

I was at roll call a couple of weeks later.  The precinct captain, John Pirak was there.  It was an 8PM roll call. Captains aren’t usually there.

After roll call, Pirak approached me.

“Cloyd, can I see you in my office?”

Great, I thought.  I’m going to get jammed up over this. I was way out of my precinct.

I went into his office.  He was at his desk.

“Close the door,” he said.

I did and took a seat across from him.

His face broke out with a grin.

“Tell me the Hokey Pokey story.”

I guess that really is what it’s all about.



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