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Wood Shampoo Wannabes
When the Policeman is not Your Friend
© 2012 James LaFond
A Really Touchy Subject
I think this is the place where I’m supposed to remind everyone how much the police have supported me when I worked in management and security and that I even have a friend that is a police officer…
I can vouch for the special brand of fear engendered by police corruption.
My boss was followed and threatened by a group of Baltimore City cops for not permitting one of them to cash a third-party check.
As a store manager I had two cops threaten me for not opening up for them after hours.
I had a cop stalk me for over an hour once. See When You’re Food.
And, most frightening of all, was when I found myself investigating a theft at work, that led directly to the off duty police officer that was supposed to handle this stuff on my behalf. I buried that, thank you very much.
I have never been afraid of the many criminals who threatened my life. Indeed, this always gave me a sense of empowerment. [Is it okay with you liberals if I borrow that buzz word? I promise to give it back. I don’t want to keep it.] However, the cops who have threatened my freedom planted some un-definable dread in my gut. I can only imagine how much more frightening that would be if I were engaged in a criminal enterprise. Or, perhaps if you are a career criminal it is less threatening. I won’t ever be able to tell you from firsthand experience, but maybe one day I’ll take a survey of the criminals among us.
I would like to write briefly of two things that happened decades ago but that have haunted me since. And I do believe Harm City is just the place to vent this small antechamber of my psyche.
Officer Friendly
I was working overnight in a supermarket with a really nice, hardworking twenty-year-old man named Kurt. This was in the late 1980s and I was about thirty, the right age for a mentor. Kurt was very attached to his father who was dying of heart disease. It had fallen on him to support his mother and he was looking to make a living for himself. I offered to train him to take over my department manager job as I had plans on leaving the company.
One night, as we were pulling out our freight, I could tell that Kurt was troubled. I said, “What’s up man—you’re dad okay?”
He said, “As good as you can expect.”
He then worked like a ghost for a few hours. Finally, while I was opening a valve in the base of the frozen food bunker that we had just defrosted, he placed both hands on the case rim, stared vacantly at the wall above us, and said, “I was taking a shortcut tonight [this was a Sunday night], walking up the alley behind the hardware store. The backdoor was open and this cop was loading tools in the trunk of his cruiser.”
Kurt swallowed hard and looked at me, “I’ve never been so scared. The way the cop looked at me. He was old enough to be my dad. I hope he doesn’t get caught or else he might come for me—I’m not saying a thing.”
I failed that portion of my mentor exam and mumbled something about not taking the shortcut anymore.
A month later Kurt informed me that he was quitting because he had been accepted into the Baltimore City Police Academy. I responded, “Why would you want a thankless job like that? I mean this sucks, but at least we don’t get sued for doing our job!”
He looked at me and grinned, “So I can get paid for beating the shit out of black guys.”
Wow.
Barbara the Barbarian
Twelve years later, on one hot summer day, I was training a young female boxer at the Dundalk Senior High track in Southeastern Baltimore County. At the time I had longhair and just looked like the kind of guy cops trained to arrest. Right behind the other side of the school the Baltimore County Police had a training program. We finished our laps as these two-dozen clean-cut Ward Cleaver clones filed onto the field.
We passed them on our way to the mushroom shaped asphalt section [I think it’s the shot-puting area] to do our mitt-drills. Now Barbara was a savage little thing with quite a nice butt, so there were a few cat-calls, and some mentions that if she needed a ‘real man’ they would take care of her. Their stoic master, who looked like he should have been a Marine Corp Drill Instructor, ignored the impropriety and then lined them up for their drills.
As Barbara hit the mitts she snarled, “You ought to call out the biggest one and beat his ass. That man in charge will let it happen. He’s an animal too.”
I responded coolly, “I don’t like to antagonize cops. They have long memories and lots of friends.”
She growled as she dug a shovel hook and my elbows lit up with pain, “I could knock ‘em all out—bunch of fuckin’ Boy Scouts.”
I coached her on dropping her guard and she taunted me, “I’ll go say something. The head guy wants me—I can get you a fair fight with one of those dickheads.”
I said, “Nah, nah”—and then she dug an uppercut into my solar plexus and stepped around and planted a right hook in my kidney with a savage growl, “Just like that, bang the body…”
Now, coaching ‘The Barbarian’ with the mitts called for a good clinch game when she got fired up. So I clinched with her and said, “Let’s go to the Rec. Center.”
She said, “Okay”, and I ducked the left hook that she winged at my temple before I grabbed her wrists and yanked off the bag gloves.
Barbara and I then began walking off the field as the Drill Instructor led the group in jumping-jacks and she groused, “Fucking needle-dick pigs—we should kick their asses.”
Just then I noticed a set of car keys in the beaten down grass these men had just walked across to get to their present sweating position. I snatched up the keys and Barbara chirped, “Oh, we’re takin’ that bitch!”
I stood for a moment, looking down into her maniacal eyes and at her heaving B-cups and momentarily, within the confines of my fertile mind, lived a day in the life of Barbara The Barbarian’s man-toy, beating up police cadets, taking their car to Tyrone’s chop-shop on Asquith—and eating a pro-class kidney punch every time I disagreed with her…
…I emerged from my Puerto Rican Psycho-bitch escort reverie, and decided to do the right thing.
She stood there angrily with sharp-knuckled fists on her little hips as I marched over to the Drill Instructor. The men stopped drilling as he glared at them. A couple of them mumbled ‘hippie’ jokes and one said something about being ‘pussy-whipped’. Finally, my skinny longhaired self stood before the man who looked like he could take a beachhead, and I extended the keys, “Here sir, I think these belong to one of your men.”
He looked into my eyes and said, “Thank you sir, much obliged.”
I walked away from the sound of two-dozen wimps training to fight the war on drugs, hoping only that I would survive the walk to the parking lot with the pit-bull of a woman who was now glaring at me like I had worn a dress to her blood & guts workout…
Please remember to say ‘sir’ [and putting a yes in front of it does help]. It has saved me from the baton thus far.
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Bob     Jul 4, 2017

In most parts of the world, it's the criminal with the badge or the khakis the most feared of all predators.
Bob     Jul 4, 2017

"Clockwork Orange" remains paradigmatic.

youtube.com/watchv=nNKvRZFKACI
guest     Jul 5, 2017

Off topic, just fyi, your podcast is up:

Grace & Steel Ep. 84 - James Lafond, Notes from Underground

Co-host Kevin Michael Grace speaks with author and blogger James Lafond, “Baltimore’s Violence Guy,” about life in a city on the edge of collapse.

youtube.com/watchv=FkoZ3qYSZUM

Shownotes: 2kevins.com/archives/1160
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