'tis a dark soul that loves black

A dark soul in the black car?

I have received this week by email a scanned copy of a newspaper article featuring an Inspector of Police for his unique approach to tracking criminals. The inspector's outspoken (and now widely published) hunch is that thugs have a preference for the color black, and apply it on their bikes, or cars, and other possessions. So, if an automobile of that ominous color crosses his path, and if he is on a case, the inspector dives and brings up a catch.

He is quoted in a box in the feature that there is nothing special in his method, that criminals have been known to have an inclination for black.

The story reminds me of a certain famous but fictitious French Chief-Inspector who had a somewhat similar approach to solving crime and, he, too, scored great catches. But the story in the newspaper speaks of real and prolonged gun battles in which the bad guys have been killed and in the process the inspector put himself in danger, and for that reason the similarity between that Chief Inspector and this brave, real-life police officer doesn't travel a single step.

I know the inspector, got to know him when our workmen went on a long strike. He is in charge of our precinct, and he did a good turn for both the workmen and the management. For the management, he took care that the workmen couldn't block entry for officers of the company, and non-striking workmen. The striking workmen would be as grateful to him as I am, because he allowed them to sit every day at the gate in spite of an injunction from the court barring them from gathering upto 300 meters from the factory premises. He did that for them by telling us that they had pictures of Gandhiji and Ambedkar in their tent and he couldn't use force there, where they gathered night and day. He assured us he would keep them from commiting violence, and delivered on the promise.

I have one special, respectful remembrance of him. One day, when the strike was in full heat, our Human Resources Manager came in to my room with bated breath. He had news. The inspector of this story had gathered the workmen and addressed them for over an hour. You are wasting your time, he had told them. And you are losing money. How will you go back inside now, after humiliating your management? he had asked, referring to the insulting posters and pamphlets and press-releases the workmen had been using. They had given him a sullen hearing. And they didn't end the strike on his advise, and it went on for many more weeks, taking many circuitous paths, and ended with all actors losing.

Let me tell you why this article in the newspaper holds a special interest for me. One day, several weeks after the strike was over, the inspector was parked before our factory gate. I asked my driver to stop and I got off the car to say hello to him. Our mutual greetings were brief. Now, after reading this story in the newspaper I am wondering about that meeting and the reason for the inspector's presence at my gate.

The color of my car is black. Black was also the color of my last car. I am due to buy a new car, and I desire no color for it but a gleaming blemish-free black. So I am wondering if the inspector was on a case and if his hunch was up and about and had brought him to my gate, and whether I have earned an exoneration in the weeks that have passed since.