Recently, I was sitting at my computer, typing away, when I heard the door opening and closing in the next room. It was around lunchtime, so I figured it was my brother (he came home for lunch, once in awhile). I turned toward the doorway, and was stunned to see a uniformed Pennsylvania state trooper striding into the room.

He began peppering me with questions, asking if I lived there, for example, and for me to identify myself. Of course I did (because I did not really want to die or anything like that, the guy was packing a gun, you know?) I was brought up to fear the police; I was taught at an early age that the state police force was originally formed to break the unions, by any means necessary. Also, I knew a lot of people who had been hassled by the cops. My parents had the talk with me (no, not that one, the one about how to survive an encounter with the police). Yeah, poor white boys get that talk too. Yes, I know that racism is a much bigger factor than classism, but that does not matter when a cop is in your house.

After I answered every question he had, I did venture a very polite question, basically, why are you here and why didn’t you knock? The police officer then informed me that he had probable cause to enter my house, because I had posted a “No Trespassing” sign.

Yes, that was his probable cause. He said that, in his experience, that usually meant that the house was in bank foreclosure, and he thought he saw someone walking by a window.

So, you see, “No Trespassing” means, “Come on in without knocking and give me the third degree”. Silly me. I thought that it meant the opposite.