It sure was nice being an older Trooper. I was content with my position and didn’t want to move. I’d been on long enough that I knew how to make-do. My immediate Supervisors were pretty good and they left me alone. Retirement was approaching and I looked forward to that. And the Rookies … Well, I enjoyed them a lot too.
They looked up to me. They enjoyed hearing the tales I’d tell them. They wanted to pick my brain. The younger Troopers were always seeking advice, would do what I told them, and gave me the respect I deserved. I didn’t have to go looking for them either. They’d come looking for me, to set up checking stations and to take coffee breaks. Yes, older Troopers sure had it made.
One morning I met several young upstarts at The Village Restaurant. We took a long break and decided on an area to work. I was the King and played the role nicely. Surely, they were impressed by my wisdom and maturity.
As we slowly walked out of the restaurant, we came up to my Patrol Car first. (Since I was older and wiser, I got the best spot.) Low and behold, there it was … My car had a flat tire. I was shocked! The Rookies just stood there laughing, waiting to see what this old Trooper would do. They wanted to see me in action or maybe, I’d just come unglued. (I couldn’t expect them perform a task that I wouldn’t and besides … What if they refused?) To clarify matters I spoke out.
“What the hell are ya’ll doing just standing there?”
“We’ve got a thirst for knowledge!” One of them laughed when he said, “We just want to see how an experienced Trooper changes a tire.”
I had no intention whatsoever, of degrading myself in front of them. So I reached into my pocket and pulled out a wad of bills, and then presented it to the Rookie closest to me.
“If you think you’re gonna stand there and watch me change this tire, you’re crazy as hell! Now here! Get down to that Auto Parts Store, two blocks from here, and get me a can of Fix-a-Flat! … And bring back the change!”
That Rookie snatched the whole wad ($15) out of my hand and took off. Fifteen dollars was a big wad of cash, for a Trooper to carry around.
(Hold on just a minute. I’ve got to go to the bathroom! I’ll be right back.)
Before long, he returned with the can of Fix-a-Flat and only $1.49 in change, and a cash register receipt that verified the same.
“What?” I loudly demanded, “Where’s the rest of my change? Fix-a-Flat is no more than two dollars a can! Now where’s the rest of my change?”
Here’s where the weakness and inexperience of a Rookie became clear. He was pathetic … He told me the truth. He confessed that he had talked the Clerk into making a false receipt. This receipt indicated a price of $13.51 for that damn can of Fix-a-Flat. Then to top it all off, the Rookie was so weak that he gave me back correct change … $13.21. I thought to myself… “What’s gone wrong with this younger generation? They can’t even pull a prank right.”
As they stood by, I inflated my tire with the can of Fix-a-Flat. Then, I wiped the top off so it wouldn’t look used. I was so disappointed. These Rookies had so much to learn.
“Give me that damn receipt!” I exclaimed, as I gathered up the empty can and stuck it back into the bag from whence it came. “I’ll show you jerks how to properly handle situations such as this.” I told them, as I got into my car. “Now watch, listen, and learn!!”
We all drove to the Auto Parts Store and parked. I made the Rookie who had pulled this on me wait outside. Then, I made a loud entrance into the Auto Parts Store. Like sheep, the rest of them followed me inside. No customers were in there, just the two Clerks. With a furious look on my face, I approached the first.
“$13.51 is a ridiculous price to pay for a can of Fix-a-Flat.” I stated, as I waved the empty can and receipt in his face. “I’m returning your product. Now give me my money back!”
With and anxious look on his face, that Clerk looked at the other one and said…
“I told you we shouldn’t have done this! I just knew this was gonna come back and bite us on the ass!” Then he directed his attention towards me as he meekly said, “Officer, this was meant as a joke. We didn’t mean any harm by it. We were just having fun.”
“I don’t know what you mean about fun,” I slammed the receipt on the counter as I said, “But a high price like this is no laughing matter!” “Now give me my damn money back … Right now!”
That poor fellow fumbled around in his cash drawer. Finally he came up with the correct change and with a trembling hand, he gave it to me. I put it in my pocket and turned to leave the store. Only then did I break it off. I gave the Clerk his money back and we all had a big laugh.
We’d had our fun. Now it was time for work. After this, we Troopers set up a checking station on an Interstate exit ramp and really kicked butt.