4 a.m. It was just late enough in the shift that the drunks and bad guys had mostly settled in for the night, doing whatever it is criminals do when they’ve finally worn themselves out and successfully (or coincidentally) evaded lawful interactions, but not so late that the regular beat cops were as exhausted as they.
This is around the time of night the beat cop wants to have some lunch, some interaction with co-workers, to relax and ultimately decide how much more effort this night is going to receive. By that of course, I mean to doze off under the watchful eyes of other cops in a safe spot, or set up radar somewhere and seek out the N.D.D.Y.’s (Not Done Drinking Yet’s).
Tonight we chose a greasy spoon off of State Highway 58 called the Hungry House. It was there that I could enjoy my generously discounted trucker-style food and bond with my co-workers by talking about both the things we hate and the things we don’t hate as much.
“Sup’, Teach?” said a cop we called “Flipper.”
“Nothin’ man! Great to see you, how you been?” I responded. He worked the Southside and I worked the East so it really had been a while.
“Aw, nothin’s nothing.” He glanced down at my hip, cocking his head to the right a bit as he did. “Say, that a new gun?”
“Yes!” I said enthusiastically. “I didn’t think anyone would notice.”
“H&K? No, wait. Wait. Springfield?”
“XD sub-compact! Good eye!”
“Thanks,” he said. And I’d meant that. They all look a lot alike from the top of the slide, so I was genuinely impressed.
“.40 cal’, nine-plus-one in the tube, Melonite finish. Dual spring recoil system, visual and tactile loaded chamber and striker status indicators, ambidextrous mag release, five-and-a-half inches high for a great group and only a little over six inches long ...” (I stopped myself at that last one, having opened myself up for Man-Ridicule, but to my astonishment he let it slide.)
“You can clear your holster twice as fast I bet. I never thought about going shorter. Nice.”
“Yeah,” I said, “I got the long gun for the hostage shots now. Everything else happens close-up, so I figured why not?”
“That holster, it’s poly.” His was still the issued leather Level III. “Like it?”
“Yeah, recessed forward section so it’s easier to find blind, and faster to draw with. Kind of fits on the belt funny though. Does it make me look fatter?”
“Absolutely not, man! You look great.”
“The vest is bad enough. Makes me look huge. God, I hate how some guys can wear it and look so thin, but it just means they’ve got the body of a 10-year-old under that.”
“Yeah,” he concurred, “besides, vests are like TV cameras. They add 12 pounds to everyone.”
“I know, right?!” I said excitedly. About that time, a Brainerd cop in the booth behind me who had been typing up a report on his portable slapped the laptop lid closed, abruptly stood up, and glared at us as he began to walk past.
“Iowa and Washington D.C. are your best bets for marriage. Until then, please shut up. I can’t eat now.”
We both sat somewhat at a loss; we really had unintentionally crossed a line, I think, so I played it through by asking, “So you want to hold it, or just stare at it too?”
He left in even greater disgust and I didn’t see him again for months. Some people, it seems, just aren’t secure in their armaments.
“Wanna shoot radar from the Bonny Oaks on-ramp?” I asked my co-worker as the checks arrived.
Flipper glowed and replied, “I thought you’d never ask.”
Alex Teach is a full-time police officer of nearly 20 years experience. The opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/alex.teach.