I was a rookie cop, and it was my first day on the job. I reported to the police station that morning. The station was located in an old house. The large kitchen had been made into a break room. Cardboard boxes filled with files from old cases were piled up in one of the back bedrooms, and the hall closets were stuffed with uniforms and supplies. It was a simple, laid back place and it seemed like most of the cops just sat around the station all day. There were card games going in the break room, there was steam in the air from people using the shower upstairs, and some of the cops kicked their feet up on the coffee table and sat on the brown couches reading magazines out in the common area that used to be a living room. There was a lot of talk about what it meant to be a cop, what a tough break and a rough deal it was, and how they put their lives on the line, but no one ever seemed to leave the station to go out and do any real police work.
I started to get kind of anxious. It was one of those jobs where you’re expected to look like you’re keeping busy, but no one really gives you anything to do. My training officer was sitting in on the card game, and she hadn’t told me much of anything since I’d reported for duty that morning. I wandered from room to room, not quite sure what to do with myself. I didn’t feel right about plopping down on the couch and reading a magazine, so I would go to the window and look out at the birds splashing around in the stone bird bath and perching on the old clothesline still strung up between two rusted poles in the backyard. Then I would wander down the hall to the kitchen to look at my training officer’s cards over her shoulder, and I would stand there awkwardly for a while until that got old, then I’d head back down the hall to the window to look out and see what the birds were up to. I looked at my watch, and there was still another six and a half hours to go till the end of my shift.
I really started to feel awkward when this woman in a grey suit showed up with this grim and aggravated look on her face. Someone whispered to me that this was the police commissioner. She looked at everyone lounging around, and she didn’t seem too happy. Two men followed her wherever she went, scribbling things down on yellow legal pads. She barked orders at officers as she passed them. She snapped her fingers and a cup of coffee was brought to her. I tried my best to look busy. I pointlessly sorted through some paperwork at the main desk, and she walked by without noticing me. This was driving me nuts. I couldn’t spend all day trying to look busy when I had nothing to do.
After the commissioner was gone, one of the other rookies came up to me. He had been feeling a bit anxious and bored too, and he suggested that we head out in one of the patrol cars and see what was going on around the town. This sounded like a great idea, and I jumped at it. It was sunny and a little cool outside. We took one of the patrol cars that were parked out along the front curb under the shade of a large maple tree. It felt good to get out and get some fresh air and really be doing something. The other rookie told me that he had a hot lead on something and he knew just where to go. I nodded and we drove off.
We pulled up outside a jewelry store in town. The other rookie cast a few quick glances up and down the street as we got out of the patrol car. He fidgeted with something on his gun in his holster, and I wasn’t sure what he was doing. I was starting to get nervous about the whole thing. As soon as we came through the door and the electric door chime sounded, the rookie pulled his gun and started yelling at the people behind the counter to put their hands up. It took me a second to realize that he was robbing the place. I started to say something and he turned to look over at me, and just as he did, one of the owners grabbed a gun from under the counter and started firing wildly in our direction. I dove for cover behind one of the display cases, and as I looked up, I could see the other rookie flailing about as he got riddled with bullets. Blood and glass rained down everywhere as I tucked my head in and curled up behind the display case. I never should have taken this job.