An ugly job, but it’s a living

Humor

Look what I found on the door of the refrigerator

The Blond Chick has a rare “Why yes, it is all about me” moment.

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What kind of job did you think you were applying for?

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My search for a decent blog written by a chief of police continues. Richard “The Most Idiotic Police Chief in Britain” Brunstrom was briefly in the running until the Cerberus Inc. crack research time found indications of severe stupidity, or blatant prevaricating, in one of his posts. I’m looking for one that is written with some style, appears to be the genuine words of the chief rather than one of his house cats, and exhibits more than a passing familiarity with common sense.

It’s proving to be a tall order.

On one of the candidate’s blog I found a post about something his recruiting staff brought to his attention. They received a number of email requests for information about the hiring process, and from that they had amassed a list of the return email addresses of potential applicants that seemed to cast doubt on their character, intelligence and/or common sense:

metallicaboner17@
pleasurephantom@
copenhagenmam69@
spacydream@
cootiecakes@
spoilme5948@
poodonkey18@
tk_paddywacker@
squishycheerfish@
strokin_100@
babypies1@
thumperhard69@

and the one that really confused me…mytieisbroken@

According to the chief, the recruiters also have a collection of humorous voice mails.

My guess is that a lot of people have email addresses that express something that they want to convey to others. It doesn’t take too much guesswork as to what messages “thumperhard69” or “metallicaboner” are trying to send. But I think I’m also right in believing that most people also have an email address that presents a more refined, and less profane, public image. Common sense would seem to be conspicuously absent from those who choose their “fun” email address, as opposed to their “business” email, to send a job inquiry.

Unless I’m hiring clerks for the night shift at an adult bookstore, there is little chance that “tk_paddywhacker” or “strokin_100” are going to get a job offer from me. To be honest, I’m not sure I would hire them for that job either.

While it’s interesting to note what people inadvertently give away in their job seeking, it is absolutely astounding what can be learned about folks when you’re given a lot of leeway in the interview and hiring process.

I had one brief fling at a non-policing job in my career. A nine month stint in recruiting as a sergeant (it was an effort to gain some investigative experience, as tenuous as it was) which was ended by budget crisis that brought on a hiring freeze.

We saw, on average, roughly 1000 applicants each month. A small percentage of them would voluntarily withdraw their application at some point, but most would have their application suspended or rejected for cause, either permanently or temporarily, and a very small percentage would be favorable applicants who were offered a position in the academy as a cadet. We rejected at least 95% of all applicants for cause, and after a small percentage declined the offer by withdrawing their application, we were able to field a class of 70 every 2 months. Those figures are consistent with what most other police departments report.

My domain was over the preliminary processing unit, which handled the initial background interview of the 1000 folks that wandered in off the street each month. A huge chunk of that 95% rejection rate came from one of 15 people working for me who were doing those interviews based on a 30 page questionnaire. If the applicant answered the questions truthfully, the questionnaire would give us an accurate assessment of the applicant’s ability to meet most of the SCPD selection criteria. Those that lied were usually caught by a polygraph exam or a background investigation that sent investigators to physically verify the truth of everything they had said.

1,000 interviews a month, 30 pages of very detailed questions that hit a wide variety of details ranging from the mundane to the very personal – equals a regular supply of very bizarre responses by applicants.

About half of the interviewers were civilian HR professionals, and the rest were cops who were experienced background investigators. The latter took most of what they heard during interviews in stride, and would tell some of the funnier stories over a cup of coffee. But my civilians were a different story.

Police work is one of those occupations that give employees a degree of access to information, people, places and things that few other occupations approach. SCPD hiring practices reflect the degree of concern about who is hired that matches the degree of trust expected of the office holder. IBM won’t, and can’t, send a background investigator to every place you ever lived, worked or went to school to ask questions like: “Is he trustworthy?”, “would you say he is stable?”, or “how much does he drink?” Microsoft may ask a challenging question like “how would you weigh the moon?”, but SCPD will ask you to describe every drug you ever took, how much you drink and what criminal acts you committed – even if you were never caught, much less convicted. The questions and checks are all backed by a very expensive and exhaustive study to identify the bona-fide job qualifications for a beginning SCPD officer, but they are far beyond what most employers could legally pursue.

All of the civilian personnel officers had bachelor degrees, many had their masters, and a few were working on their doctorates. With the exception of one woman who was married to an officer, none of them had ever spent much time around cops or worked in a HR setting in which they were legally allowed to ask the kinds of questions we had them ask. Never did more than a couple of days pass when one of them didn’t come into my office, close the door, and say…

Sergeant Cerberus, you would not believe what this applicant just told me.

Actually, I would believe, because I had conducted a number of those same interviews, and I reviewed every completed questionnaire.

Some of the things people said were nonsensical. There was a young woman we rejected because of criminal activity and unfavorable employment history. She had been fired, that morning, after her boss at a greeting card store had found her stealing cash from the till. The card store was on the ground level of the office building where our offices were located. She must have walked straight out of her past employer’s place of business and jumped on the elevator to come visit us. I nicknamed her the “I need a job chick.”

Why is my application being rejected?

The fact that you were fired, today, for stealing from your employer puts you outside of our guidelines on criminal activity and employment history. If you can stay away from committing crimes and not get fired from a job, we will be glad to see you back here in 5 years to try again.

Yeah, but I need a job.

I understand that. But you can understand why we wouldn’t hire you to be a police officer, can’t you?

No, because I need a job and you’all are hiring, so why can’t we do this?

Let’s look at it this way. Being a police officer is not just a job. It’s a position of trust in the community. As an officer you could find yourself alone with other people’s property, or with other valuable items that are evidence at crime scenes. Given the fact that you were just fired from a position of your employer’s trust for stealing from her, wouldn’t it look pretty foolish for us to hire you for a position of even greater trust with less direct supervision?

Yeah, but I need a job.

That’s not going to happen here for you today. Maybe I can direct you to someplace else that might take a chance on you. Most of our applicants are interested in public service as a career, why did you apply with us?

I got fired this morning and I need a job.

Our questionnaire included a section on illegal and prescription drug use. When I first read “What type of medication are you currently taking, and why?”, I thought it was poorly worded. But the responses we got to the “why” part often generated some enlightening responses, and those included a smattering of goodies that were guaranteed to make you laugh. Almost weekly we got something along the lines of…

What type of medication are you taking, and why?: Birth Control Pills – I like to fuck.

On rarer occasions we got some scary responses to that question…

What type of medication are you taking, and why?: Haldol – My doctor prescribed this to keep me from hearing voices that tell me to do things I don’t want to do.

The questions on illegal sex acts caught a few really whacked out people. One of my folks, who was finishing his dissertation for a PhD., came in to my office one morning with a queasy look on his face. While I’m sure there are all sorts of young people who grow up on farms and ranches who never succumb to barnyard bestiality, there are some of them who find the temptation too great. About once a month there would be one who came in and answered the question about bestiality with forthright honesty.

The applicant in question was a regular expert in animal husbandry, and had described a number of critters around Old MacDonald’s farm with which he had carnal knowledge.

Yee-Eye-Yee-Eye-Oh – indeed!

The personnel officer said he was handling the interview well, until the applicant had mentioned a certain species of animal and a specific sex act.

As soon as he said that I thought he was just pulling some kind of joke. I imagined it was a like one of those radio show pranks when they wire a guy with a microphone and have him go into a business and do something stupid to see how people will react. So I called bullshit and told him that what he was talking about was impossible, and I swear to God, until just a few minutes ago, I really did think it was impossible.

So, what happened to change your mind?

He just gave me a ten minute explanation on how to get head from a cow. An extremely detailed explanation. Including how to select the right cow, what “lure” to use, how to keep from getting stomped on, or kicked, or bitten, and so on, to the point where I was ready to throw up. I’m telling you sergeant, I don’t think I can ever enjoy a cheeseburger again, and I know I will never drink another milkshake.

It’s not that more crazies, weirdos or criminals try to get jobs in law enforcement, we do get our fair share, it’s just that we get to ask the kind of questions that are supposed to identify them.

All of those people rejected get jobs somewhere. What do you really know about the people working with you?


Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.

On the morning of this past November 16th, Robert Jones set about as he does each morning to open his business, Perk Central Coffee, in Tacoma, Washington. He discovered that during the night someone had tried to break into the store.

Perk Central is outfitted with several video cameras that record the goings on in and around the store, and the previous night’s recordings from the camera revealed the events.

I say “tried to break into the store” because the inept buffoon that was intent on stealing some sweet goodies from display cases at Perk Central found the store too tough of a nut to crack.

I can’t believe it! They’ve locked the doors to the building!

The video shows the bandanna-wearing doofus kicking at the back door, repeatedly. A slow motion replay of the final kick shows the guy’s leg bending in a direction that nature did not intend.

After contacting the police, Jones edited the video and posted it on YouTube along with an offer of a reward for information leading to the incompetent burglar’s identity.

He also provided a voice over narration of the crime. Noticing a certain similarity in dress to that of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow gave Jones the theme for his blow by blow description.

The video was noticed by media outlets and was broadcast in the Tacoma area. At least one friend of Captain Jack told him about the video, and that lead him to turn himself in to the Tacoma Police this past Tuesday.

I’m turning myself in ’cause I’m the guy in that coffee shop video.

Oh, you’re the guy they call Jack Sparrow, right?

Yeah, I guess so.

You have to be the worst burglar I’ve ever seen.

Ah, but you have heard of me then, haven’t you?

At the time of his arrest, it was learned that his knee was dislocated. I wonder how that happened.


On contempt for authority – Or, “they were giving out time like it was lunch!”

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One night I stopped a guy who was thinking about running. In fact, he was making the right moves but traffic was so heavy that he gave up before it ever became a true chase. The intent was there, but the opportunity was squelched. He deserved to go to jail, but I knew that the Assistant DA would see the case as weak and take an easy plea bargain, so I wrote him five moving citations. The potential fines were heftier than what a probation would have cost him, but there was no jail time involved so I figured justice would be satisfied.

A month later I went to my regular traffic court docket and saw him in the gallery. He had entered not guilty pleas on all five counts. It used to be that if you showed up for the court setting on the ticket, and the officer who wrote the tickets did not appear, a not guilty plea trumped the prosecution’s failure to be ready for trial because the only witness was not present. A common tactic was to show up, plead not guilty, and then see if the cop made it to court. If he made it to court you could always change your plea to guilty, pay the fines and be done with it.

I think that was what was going on that night, but somebody had neglected to explain to the idiot that he was supposed to change his plea if I was there, or else he was going to trial.

And, so we had us a trial. A couple of them actually. One of them was fast, and the other was over before it ever really started.

The guy was displaying major attitude from the second we started. Besides being guilty as hell, he was working with a defective game plan, and he was way out of his league. The prosecutor was sharp, it was an easy case for me to testify about, and the judge was a law and order type who socked it to liars and people with bad attitudes. She was the only judge I ever gave flowers to on her birthday – we had lovingly nicknamed her Becky the Butt Reamer.

One look at Mr. Attitude sending out his body language of “this is bullshit”, and I knew it was not going to be a good night for Mudville when Casey came up to the plate.

So there we were, ready for a trial before the bench: Attitude boy with his arms folded and a sneer on his face, me looking quite dashing and debonair in my blue attire, her honor Judge Becky looking “hanging judgish” in her black robes and a new blond frost job, and the prosecutor was…well he was sort of standing out. The man was color blind to half the palette, and while his mom came by on weekends to arrange the next week’s work clothes by color, on most Fridays he had run through the arrangements and was working on his own. It was Friday night and he was looking – colorful – wearing a green jacket, pale yellow shirt with a bright blue tie all over a pair of maroon pants.

The trial lasted five minutes. Mr. Colorful Prosecutor zoomed through his list of questions to prove the elements of the offense and I gave him short and concise answers. Her honor turned it over to Casey at the plate, and he whiffed a few lame questions that clearly expressed his contempt for the entire process. Judge Becky found him guilty and slammed him for the maximum fine plus costs.

“Strike One” cried the umpire.

And then it happened. The prosecutor immediately started the second trial by reciting the charge and asking Casey “How do you plead to the second count of the offense of running a stop sign?”

The reply was a piece of brilliant legal maneuvering by young Casey. He stood at the plate and swung mightily for the fences.

“Hell, I might as well plead guilty to everything. I ain’t gonna get no fair trial in this fucking kangaroo court.”

There was a moment of silence. I moved a hand back to my handcuffs because I figured home slice was about to spend some time in the can on a contempt charge. The rotund beach ball that was a bailiff struggled to raise his mass from his overworked chair. Judge Becky looked at the man as if he had just crapped his tuxedo at an elegant cocktail party. But the prosecutor, that colorful little man, quickly leaned in and looked up at the judge with a smile on his face…

“The prosecution has no objection to the pleas proffered by the defense.”

Judge Becky didn’t miss a beat and chimed quickly chimed in with her reply…

“I accept your four pleas of guilty on the remaining charges and find you guilty on each. You are sentenced to the maximum fine plus court costs. See the clerk to pay your fines. Mr. Prosecutor, call your next case, please.”

The sneer has fled from Casey’s lip, the teeth are clenched in hate.
He pounds, with cruel violence, his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
and now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

“Strike Two, Three, Four and Five. You are out of here!” bellowed the umpire. Casey, who was just beginning to realize that he was suddenly in debt to the Some City Municipal Court for nearly three thousand bucks, slumped at the plate.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And, somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout,
but there is no joy in Mudville –
mighty Casey has struck out.

People show up in court and represent themselves, and judges and prosecutors always give them leeway to make up for it. But when somebody shows up and displays utter contempt for everyone and everything in the courtroom, well, it comes down to a case of play ball or get smacked with the bat. Judges have little tolerance for games and disrespect.

Here is one of the funnier trial transcripts I have ever seen involving a contempt charge:

Murphy pleaded guilty to one count of distributing cocaine base and one count of using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. At Murphy’s sentencing hearing, the district court sentenced him to 130 months imprisonment-seven months less than the guidelines maximum-on Count Nine and a consecutive term of 60 months on Count Ten. At the conclusion of the hearing, the following exchange occurred:

MURPHY: You should have just gave me the other damn seven-the other seven months is what you should have did, stinky mother fucker.

THE COURT: Mr. Benya-Mr. Murphy, you are summarily found in contempt of this court-

MURPHY: Just give me the other seven months.

THE COURT: You’re summarily found to be in contempt of this court. I sentence you to six months to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed.

MURPHY: You should have just gave me the other seven months is what you should have done.

THE COURT: Mr. Murphy, I find you again in contempt of this court and you’re now summarily found in contempt for a second time and you’ll serve an additional six months consecutive to any sentence-

MURPHY: What about that? What about that? Serve that, mother fucker. . . .

THE COURT: Mr. Stone, just a minute. Mr. Murphy-

MURPHY: Bye.

THE COURT: You just gave the finger to the court. That will be a third contempt of court and that’s six-

MURPHY: Add another one to it.

THE COURT: -six more months at the end of your sentence. Well, that’s a quick year and a half.

They hand that time out quick down at the courthouse, but you serve it the old fashioned way in the big house. A day at a time.


The teenagers! What will we do with the teenagers?

Having teenagers is challenging.  Hah, there’s an understatement.

Christmas with such creatures is confusing.  They no longer wake me up as they did when they were younger, jumping into bed with me at 0630 on Christmas morning with  cries of, “Santa’s been here!  Wake up!”  Yesterday it was me up and ready to go early, and then waiting around for them.  I was drinking coffee and reading the paper when the youngest finally got up at 9:30.  It started not with delighted cries of “Santa came”, but instead with bed hair and bleary eyes and a sleep befuddled, “Oh, wow, Christmas, heh”.

But there are signs that the child inside survives.  While age appropriate gifts were appreciated – as was cash-  the most attention was paid to two inexpensive miniature radio-controlled helicopters.    Recent years have been less about playing with toys and more about college applications, cars, girls, and all of the other things that occupy the hearts and minds of young men.   It was interesting and delightful to watch them play like small boys.

Complicated beings.  Almost fully grown, but with minds and personalities that are just now leaving childhood.  They are like battleships captained by a class of 8-year-olds.  One moment they are responsibly patrolling the shipping lanes, and in the next moment they decide to lay off the coast and pump shells into downtown San Diego – just because it seemed like a good idea at the moment.


O Krispy Kreme

(Sung To the tune of “O Tannenbaum”)

O Krispy Kreme, O Krispy Kreme
You’re lovely and enticing
O Krispy Kreme, O Krispy Kreme
How beautiful your icing
My palate you do satiate
I’ll order three…No make that eight!
O Krispy Kreme, O Krispy Kreme

 You’re lovely and enticing.*

Police, chase and donuts – How could I resist?

*Original lyrics by Mark Linville