by Jim Farrar (1978)

While I was living in Twin Falls, I had a fairly good friend who was, by vocation, a state patrolman. By avocation, he was a beer-drinking pool hustler. Consequently, we played a lot of billiards together, which is how he received a significant portion of my already too meager paychecks.

Somewhere in between the Budweiser and the Brunswick, I gained a little insight into what it feels like to be a cop. I also learned that inebriated policemen can be very talkative sometimes, but that’s kind of irrelevant at the moment.

Revelation Number One: cops are nothing more than human beings. You’d be surprised how many people are ignorant of this fact, myself included. If a guy’s a cop, he’s automatically set apart from the crowd. It’s an autonomous identity: policeman means a person, not a profession. It’s a problem similar to the one that priests often have. (Although most cops aren’t celibates.) It’s a job in which one usually has to sacrifice a certain amount of his identity and individuality, which really is too bad.

Revelation Number Two: cops have emotions too. They also can be scared shitless. My friend told me that every time he stops a car, even for the simplest infraction, there’s a lingering fear that is constantly in the back of his mind. He says he always wonders – every single time – just what kind of a person is behind that wheel. Will he pull a gun on him? Will he shoot him? Just what will he do? A policeman never knows, and that scares some of them.

Revelation Number Three: cops have interesting experiences. There’s a plethora of strange people in this world, and policemen get to meet a great many of them. My friend loves to tell anybody who’s willing to listen about the fellow he stopped on highway 93, the road to Sun Valley, one summer afternoon.

It seems that O.J. (that’s his name) was parked alongside of the road waiting for speeders. Well, he got one. So he takes off in pursuit with lights flashing and sirens wailing. (Unbearably hackneyed, but true.) Unfortunately, this guy didn’t stop – he speeded up. O.J. claims that he clocked him at 120 m.p.h. before he finally managed to get the fellow to pull over.

Anyway O.J. got out of his car, sweating like a pig (no pun intended) and shaking like a vibrator. The guy in the other car also go out of his vehicle, strolled over to O.J.’s car, and nonchalantly said “yes officer, may I help you?”

I guess you had to be there.

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