Back when I was mustering out of the army I saw an ad for a small-town law enforcement position. The position was listed as follows- “Town Constable- $700 a month + room & board. Bring your own gun.” That wasn’t bad for 1983, but it wasn’t great ether.
Under the assumption that I would be one of several constables. I responded and they asked me to drop by for an interview. When I arrived at the town I saw it was a single street with 2 gas stations, a grocery store, a farm store, a diner, the combined City-Hall/Police/Fire Station/Public Library (a not very large three-story building.) a scattering of houses and seven bars. Not promising…
As directed I went up to the mayor’s office. Instead of interviewing me he showed me the police station- a room with a reception counter, a desk, a gun case with a hunting rifle and a shotgun in it and two jail cells. A doorway led to a tiny bathroom/shower and just past that another small room with a hotplate, a tiny fridge, a desk and a bed.
“This is where you’ll be staying,” the mayor said. Pointing out the window to the diner he continued, “That’s where you’ll take your meals on a chit and the Town Council will pay it.”
I was starting to get a very bad feeling…
Downstairs he showed me the police-car, a 1969 Dodge Dart (!) that had clearly seen better days. I inquired after the other constables and was told there weren’t any! I, a 21 year-old just getting out of the army with no law-enforcement experience was going to be the town’s sole constable and the mayor was talking like I already had the job! A tiny robot began dancing across my forebrain waving it’s arms and chanting ‘Danger Will Robinson!’
It was very clear what sort of town this was. Every Friday and Saturday night the town’s population would quadruple as every farmer, hand and cowboy for fifty miles around converged on the bars to cut loose and blow off steam. It was also obvious that this place was so well-known that no qualified law-enforcement officers would take the position and they were desperate. Even in my overconfident/still-immortal/testosterone-poisoned state it was clear that I’d last until approximately 11 PM on the first Friday night. If, at that point, I was alive and unhospitalized I would flee for my life ahead of a drunken mob.
We chatted a while longer, with me sweating from more than just the heat, and he asked, “When can you start?”
“I’ll let you know,” I lied. We shook hands and I fled and never looked back. Happily when I did sign on with a small-town three years later they trained me and sent me to the academy- and I had a partner and several other officers to help.
Safe to say this was the first time I dodged a bullet in my brief law-enforcement career.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 01 August 2017