Monday, April 07, 2008

Half of Brain Removed

I read on the FoxNews site where a young girl will undergo surgery to have half her brain removed. I recognize this as a serious and emotionally trying time for the family; but the first thing I thought of was how I’ve mentioned to potential police cadets that one of the requirements for becoming a police officer is to have half your brain removed. Later on, should you desire to transfer to motorcycle division they take the other half.

Arguments could be made that half of nothing isn’t all that much; which is why police officer brains are so expensive, takes a lot more work to collect a useable sample. You’d have to be just plain stupid to work for the Department; what’s that line from Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

I was sitting on a bench at the drug testing facility used by the Houston Police Department, part of the random drug testing program. I’d worked all night and had to drive across town a couple hours into what should have been “sleep mode”. The young woman handed me two large Styrofoam cups and I was instructed to fill them both; but was only able to fill one. I handed them back and I was told it was the same as if I’d not given any since there was insufficient sample to test.

She picked up the phone and called a number, waited for the other end to pick up and then handed me the handset. “This is Sgt. So-and-so with Internal Affairs. I understand you are unwilling to cooperate with the Department’s mandatory random drug testing program.”

“No, Sir. I was only able to provide half of their requested amount.”

“You will have to stay there until you can provide the amount required or it will be shown as a refusal to be tested. Is that understood?” I’m so glad that wasn’t a phone with a camera clicking away as I glared back at the jerk on the other end.

I did pick up a couple of hours overtime for the extra “effort”. I also asked if they wanted a “core sample”, something which could be used to determine my attitude; they didn’t even crack a smile.

While I was waiting for the third can of Dr Pepper to work its way through my system a couple of eager young fellows sat down on the bench. I recognized the application forms they had in their hands.

“So, you want to become police officers?” They nodded and smiled like a couple of idiots who’d fallen off the turnip truck.

“Yes, Sir!”, in stereo no less, as they acknowledged my uniform with a row of service stripes on one sleeve. I was completing the lines indicating the last time I’d taken a Vicodin and muscle relaxer pill.

“Have you gone out to the “Tub” ( Ben Taub Hospital ) yet to have half your brain removed?” They looked at me and figured they must have heard wrong. “Never mind, you’ll find out soon enough.”

I hope the little girl’s surgery goes well and that her family is rewarded with a lifetime worth of hugs and kisses. When she gets old enough to look for a job there’s always the police department; and she’ll already have the hard part out of the way.

The photograph is an attempt to salvage a badly damaged slide that was stored away in the garage. Humidity and dust did some damage; but the old Three Wheelers had just completed a Chief’s Inspection. Yours truly is on the front row, third from the right weighing in at 140 pounds.

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