It was 1984 and after distributing books at the State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida. We had parked in a Days Inn parking lot for the night. Our van of five brahmacharis was fast asleep when we heard over a megaphone, “Alright in there! Come out slowly with your hands raised!” I looked out the window surprised to see the van surrounded by ten police cars and more than a dozen officers with their guns drawn!
We emerged from the van squinting from the bright flashlights burning our eyes. The officers began to frisk each one of us, though we were dressed only in gamshas (bath towels).
“What are you doing here?” the officer in charge demanded.
“We are distributing love of God in the form of books,” I explained.
I opened the van doors, thinking this to perhaps be a dream. I reached into one of the boxes, pulled out a Bhagavad-gita and handed it to the officer in charge. He intently inspected the book, then me, then the book again, until finally he broke the silence declaring, “All glories to Srila Prabhupada!”
I was taken aback as were his gun-toting subordinates. At this point I was convinced this was all a dream! The officer in charge proudly explained, “I used to go to the University of Florida and regularly ate the Krishna Lunch. You practically put me through college. I even stayed two days at the temple!”
Turning to his associates he pronounced, “These are great books and you should all buy one.” On his order, the officers began reaching for their wallets. Of the twenty cops, I think about 90% of them took books. We made almost $200!
Our new friend then apologized for the abrupt entry, telling us that earlier that night a gun store had been robbed and the description of the getaway vehicle exactly matched our van. I doubt we got back to sleep that night after one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. But thanks to prasadam distribution it turned into a great sankirtan story!