I called to wish my Dad a Happy Father’s Day, in advance knowing I’d be tied up in meetings at church tomorrow. My folks were telling me how they’d gone to a restaurant where the young man waiting on them thought they were “somebody”, related to some fancy pants rich well to do society folks. Dad, should I tell the story about the “Wanna’ see the chicken fly?” now or wait? No, better wait; got me laughing all the same.
Anyway, the young man waiting on my folks kept a steady supply of, “Yes, Sir” and “Can I get you anything else, Sir?”, to the point of being excessive all evening long. The way I was hearing it made me think of something that happened way back when I was working evening shift as a police officer in downtown Houston.
The first half of our shift we worked as one man units, writing traffic tickets up until rush hour when we’d direct traffic for those attempting to exit the central business district. We then would team up for the remainder of the shift, either with a regular partner or, in some cases with a junior partner; a chance to teach and watch out for the rookies.
I’d had a busy afternoon and written several red light tickets only to find my assigned junior partner had nothing on his work card. I took him to a location where the likelihood of observing a red light would get him something to show the Sergeant. We sat for a while and sure enough, a really good violation took place; only my junior partner hadn’t been paying attention ( head stuck where the sun don’t shine) and so he hadn’t seen it.
I wasn’t about to let it go and took off after the violator. When I walked up to the driver, before I even introduced myself, he immediately began apologizing for having busted through the red light; a res gesti (hope I spelled that right, it’s been a long while since I used legal terms like that) statement of guilt since I hadn’t asked him anything as yet. It occurred to me, since I had an open and shut case, to let the junior partner write the ticket, get something on his card, knowing it would never come to court.
I explained to the driver, in somewhat vague terms, how I was trying to get a younger officer some confidence, his being uncomfortable with his new blue uniform and dealing with the responsibilities that go with the position; in other words I exaggerated considerably. The driver, being an otherwise upright citizen, was more than willing to help one of Houston’s Finest develop into a better police officer. I walked back to my junior partner and explained I’d been given a res gesti statement and how he could take care of the ticket.
“Yes, Sir, I ran the red light, Sir.” I stood back and listened from the rear bumper. My junior partner began filling in the blanks; every now and again he’d look in my direction, wondering what had gotten into this “yea-who”. “I’m sorry for not paying attention, Sir. It won’t happen again, Sir.” It went on and on and on until the driver signed the ticket and made his way on down the road. My junior partner just shook his head since I never told him how he’d been set up.