Police are a funny bunch. Many times their own humor goes unnoticed by them. What others find amusing from a detached and objective perspective isn’t considered humorous by the police themselves. In fact, many don’t realize how comical they are when they are making no attempt whatsoever to be comical.
For years I have told my son Jordan that most cops (this might be more of a California thing than anywhere else) are easily spotted when either retired or off duty. They wear short-sleeved tropical-print shirts known as the “Hawaiian” shirt, which is worn in profuse proliferation by sunburned tourists on the beaches of Waikiki.
Many retired officers, old and wrinkly with greying or white hair, sport such attire. Most don’t even own a surfboard, let alone participate in the aquatic pursuit of “tasty tubes,” but boy, do they ever own a plethora of surfing shirts! If they wear shorts, they wear socks with sandals. I kid you not!
At this stage of the game, they don’t care what anyone else thinks, and I can somewhat see their point. It might even be a badge of honor to personally affront the effete couture of society that they protected for so many years.
Jordan was skeptical about this point of fact. He is of a different generation, one that prides itself on their wardrobe ensemble providing as attractive an appearance as possible to the opposite sex. Coincidentally at the same time this subject came up, so did the opening of the new LAPD Metropolitan Division station, relocated in the old Rampart station on Temple Street (proving someone has a sense of humor, as this is located in the heart of a notoriously violent division).
The color scheme is a sick, off-color mustard hue (leading me to believe the city did in fact hire a color-blind architect) and there is not nearly enough parking for the officers, so they’re off to a great start. How rare!
Along with past members of Metro, I was invited to attend this festive gala held in the early morning hours, with all the attendant speeches, pomp and circumstance befitting such a momentous event.
Out of respect for this, I dressed in business attire sans tie. Everyone else showed up in—you guessed it— Hawaiian shirts! I mean everyone. Jordan turned to me and said, “I always thought you were kidding about the shirts?” “Nope … not a bit.” Point of fact, son, point of fact!
Police always, always want the proverbial discount. “Do you have a police discount for the elephant rides?” “Ahhh, not really.” “Is there a discount on these paper clips?” Probably not. At some point one would think police types would realize that not everything merits a police discount. But they don’t.
Police spend a fortune on drinks with their buddies or a targeted species with whom they are attempting to become intimate. They think nothing of doling out greenback after greenback across the bar when engaged in such pursuits.
They are on point, on target, and demonstrate a laser focus singular in determination, giving no thought whatsoever to the subject of police discounts. But this same individual would never in a million years spend $25 on a box of ammo to practice with, nor pay $125 for a decent light that might make the difference between shooting a bad guy or an innocent bystander. Perish the thought.
This is a predilection common to many of a law enforcement bent and is perhaps structured deep within the DNA nuclei of police types.
Observe any police station and you will encounter three types of vehicles: old beaters (divorce), standard models (rational thought process), and the exotic (a vain attempt to impress beyond one’s budget). Check any bulletin board and you will find jet skis, motorcycles, speed boats, motorhomes, and such all posted for sale at supposed cut-rate prices.
Divorce proceedings account for a majority of the shedding of unnecessary materialistic acquisition phenomena (UMAP). Another percentage of UMAP items results from the stark realization that a police budget simply does not encompass the ability to afford such items.
As an aside, we trained the actress Kristanna Loken for Terminator 3. The boys in SWAT who were training that day started shedding their shirts, and I gently informed them that, without a high-end Ferrari, they could pretty much forget about it. A take-home city ride just didn’t cut it!
The all-pervasive “Can I get this for free?” syndrome also exists. Such requests are usually surreptitiously veiled within the T&E (test and evaluation) thread. “My department might be interested in deploying such a device … [pause] … is it at all remotely possible?”
This one really comes into its own at venues such as the SHOT Show in Las Vegas. You can spot a cop at these events as they actually wheel around little carts piled to the top with every conceivable device even remotely tactically related. At the end of four days, it would take a U-Haul to get it all home. It’s beyond hysterical.
Cops are essentially good guys with a sense of humor, even if they’re not aware of it.