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August 16, 2012

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Law enforcement isn’t reserved for men; far from it. it’s a profession that demands the diversity that we profess to be our strength because in a job in which you never know what’s going to happen next, you need a vast pool of resources to handle it.  

Women in law enforcement? Believe it or not, some think completely differently from men and it takes that varying point of view to solve different kinds of problems. Sometimes we need a guy that can speak Swahili (it’s come up), sometimes we need a guy that can pick a lock or pilot a boat, and sometimes we need a woman to handle situations men literally can’t comprehend.

Now that we’re crystal clear on the importance of females in this male-dominated line of work, let me tell you that this column is about the exhilaration of doing things so manly you’d think your turds had muscles at the end of the day and not about women at all.

I was working on my roof recently because my penchant for cheap contractors had finally bit me in the ass when recent monsoons underscored the presence of a leak over my back patio door. Not being one who would pick up the phone and squirt tears to a contractor to  “make it all better,” I did what any other whole-chicken-eating man would do and grabbed a ladder and a five-gallon bucket of mastic roofing cement and went to task.

I had the presence of mind to use rubber gloves (the blue ones preferred by EMTs and proctologists) because mastic is actually a creamy kind of tar, and tar is the enemy of all things flesh.

So I’m slapping the shit out of my roof with this tar, filling anything that looked like a crack, seam, split or bug. Before it’s over, it’s on the shingles, the siding, the flashing, the trim, and, of course, me, all the way up to my elbows and down to my toes. (My hands, mind you, were pristine.)

The reason I told you all that is to explain how the topic of manliness came up: The best (or at least most convenient) solvent for tar on skin is gasoline, and in short order I found myself crouched in a patch of grass ladling it with cupped hands from a metal bucket and rubbing it into my skin.

Sure enough, tar that once stained skin for days (if not weeks) was dissolving before my eyes and the stench of gas was overpowering—but not so much that I didn’t appreciate what was happening. For I, a grown man, was squatting on my lawn rubbing freakin’ gasoline into my skin, and I was seconds from thumping the ground in front of me with the back of my hand and making guttural grunts.

I got so into it I actually started using it to clean things on me that were not tar-based, like dirt and a Powerade splash. It was suddenly one of the great moments of my life as a Man, comparable to:

• Yanking my own toe nail out with a pair of pliers once (the nail having been pulled off its bed by an errant nail on my front deck), the blood dripping into the bowl of ice water I used to numb my foot;

• The first time I ran emergency traffic on Shallowford Road and crossed Lee Highway, the slight rise in the larger roadway launching my car into the air enough that a pen briefly floated in mid-air like in an old Tang commercial, only to be interrupted by the abrupt landing which sent a shower of sparks visible even in my rear-view mirror (and the fact I didn’t lose control and die);

• And the first time I was off-duty and in my house having a cole-beer after a long day on the job, but still in uniform.

I like helping people, solving problems, the nobility of the profession. But sometimes it just feels good to be a guy.  

Is that why I’m a cop? Nope. But it sure makes some of the bad times a little easier to deal with.

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.

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August 16, 2012

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