I thought I'd tell you a couple of funny war stories today. I need a break from all of this government nastiness. War stories from small town America. Cops.
Years ago, we hired this young, skinny kid. He didn't have a whisker on his face or maybe even a hair on his ass. You know the type. Nice kid, naive. I think he was 22 but looked 18 or so. Still had pimples and shit.
His situation was further complicated because we couldn't find a uniform to fit him from the storeroom. Cops aren't particularly known for being nutritional specialists or health nuts. Well not back then anyway. So after our guys died of weight related complications, we would nab their old uniforms. So it was, we found this kid a couple of uniforms that hung off him like a potato sack. We should have had them tailored while we waited for those special order- petite sizes to arrive.
Now older folks tend to take getting pulled over a little better than young folks do. But as nice as some of those older folks were, they could switch gears in a hurry when prompted to do so by a skinny kid with pimples that starts telling them how to drive.
Late one night, our field training officer was out with this young kid making traffic stops. They stopped this older gentleman, a hard knocker about 60 years old, for speeding. Their intent was to just give the motorist a warning. The rookie kid walks up to this guy and begins lecturing the driver on the evils of speeding. The field training officer was watching this whole episode and said the motorist was not taking much of a liking to the lecture. About the time he had finished, the motorist paused, looked this kid up and down- eyeing that baggy uniform. He spit on the ground, looked the kid in the eye, and said, "Boy, does your daddy know you got his uniform on?" Our field training officer said he had to absolutely wheel around and clench his teeth to keep from laughing out loud. He had tears running down his cheeks. The kid retreated back to the patrol car. The kid was so pissed off that the field training officer had to calm him down for a few minutes in the car. I nearly cried when I heard the trainer tell me this story. The motorist escaped unscathed.
That young skinny kid has turned out to be a pretty good cop despite that stumble at the gate.
My next story involves a guy who might read this blog but I doubt he'd give a shit anyway. I gotta use his last name because that is a key part of this tale. His last name, for the record, is Pidgeon.
Back when I met Pidgeon, I was one of those know it all rookie cops who was always on the look out for role models. I'll be damned if I didn't always pick the wrong ones. Pidgeon was my favorite. Now I love Pidgeon with all of my heart but Pidgeon had the bedside demeanor of a rhinocerous. He was old and cantankerous but had a heart of gold. He was one of only a few men capable of pissing off Mother Teresa. I think that's why I picked him. I loved working with him because some funny shit was always bound to happen. Pidgeon had logged more than a few complaints over the years. He was a veteran of such things. One last thing, Pidgeon hated it when anybody pointed their finger at him.
So one day, Pidgeon had taken this stolen pickup report and we were looking for the truck and driver. The guy that stole the truck was a former employee of the victim owner and he was from France. The owner just wanted the pick up back. We spent all morning tracking this guy down and finally stopped him in a restaurant parking lot. No guns drawn, no felony stop, none of that. We were just going to grab the pickup and let the guy go. Now Pidgeon's always been a little hard of hearing and he didn't really like the idea of just letting this guy go but he was honoring the owner's wishes. So the French guy gets out of the truck. I think his first question to Pidgeon was something akin to "what ees your problem?" From that point on, things went downhill fast. The interesting thing was that the French guy really didn't speak good English and I don't think he was actually trying to be a smart ass. I don't think Pidgeon quite heard it the same way. There was some back and forth, more back and forth, and then I think the French guy pointed a finger at Pidgeon. That's when shit went from bad to worse. There was yelling, cursing, mouth frothing and people looking at us from inside the restaurant. I knew Pidgeon desperately wanted to arrest this guy but he was a man of his word and the French guy was almost taking advantage of his good fortune. When the smoke finally cleared, Pidgeon told the French guy to beat it. The French guy, clearly an ingrate, looked at Pidgeon and asked, "what is your name?" Now Pidgeon, veteran cop of many complaints knew precisely why this guy was asking that question. He replied, "Pidgeon." The French guy looked at him and said "pee zhahn?" Pidgeon said "Pidgeon!" The French guy repeated, "pee zhahn?" Pidgeon clearly exasperated and pissed off at this point yelled, "No! Just tell 'em I'm the old motherfucker with the glasses on!
Nobody had cameras back then, or tape recorders, and sensitive community police officers had not been invented yet. I miss those days. Everybody broke clean. Doubt we even wrote a report. If we did, we might not have mentioned our field interview in it's entirety.
I told that story at Pee Zhahns retirement party. I had to clean it up a bit because there were kids there. Mr. and Mrs. Pee Zhahn...I miss you. Have a wonderful holiday season.