The police here in Columbus, OH have been fairly notorious for being unpleasant to deal with. A few years back, the department was sued for by the Federal Department of Justice for alleged police abuses and racial profiling. A few specific incidents cited in the charges included a woman who was groped and verbally abused during a traffic stop and another woman who was attacked and nontrivially injured by a police officer after she attempted to videotape his conduct at her home. (For details, see and

With that in mind, tonight I saw something I never expected to see: a smiling uniformed CPD officer bagging groceries at the supermarket.

We went to the Kroger at the corner of Karl and Morse because it's practically the only place we can drop off our recyclables at night. It's a bit of a drive from our apartment, and is in a pretty borderline area; just south of it you start getting into the 'hood.

So I wasn't surprised to see cops in the store. But when I saw the officer at the end of the line asking people "Paper or plastic?" I at first thought he was a security guard. But then I saw the gun, and the baton, and the badge. And the friendly smile.

My boyfriend asked him jokingly, "Is this part of the job requirements?" and the policeman shrugged and laughed.

"I get bored just standing around," he explained.

Imagine that. A bored policeman pitching in to help out a weary cashier in the middle of the night. And being right considerably more pleasant than most baggers I've encountered recently.

If this is a sign of things to come, I'm all for it.

In other news, if you're in the U.S., postal rates are going up as of this Sunday. It caught me by surprise; maybe some of you also hadn't heard. Mailing a letter will now cost you 37 cents instead of 34. This is the largest single increase the postal service has ever done, presumably because of vastly increased operating expenses in the wake of the anthrax scares.