This is the 5th installment in my Bad Luck Cadet Series. To follow my adventures at the police academy after my mid-life crisis it is best to start at the beginning Bad Luck Cadet #1 – Accidents Happen. It’s all about fun, laughter and pain. To be honest, at the time it was more about pain, pain and pain! — Suzie
Over the next three weeks, Stacy and I felt like we were getting our first taste at what being a police officer would be like. We were issued wallet police badges, by a secretary, to take to the academy and we were also issued our batons, handcuffs and firearms.
Guns, this was one thing I hadn’t thought about. I had never shot a gun before. It looked huge. It was a .40 caliber Glock 35. I was told it had an extra long barrel and was great for target shooting.
Problem! It barely fit my hand.
Sgt. Spears took us to the range for shooting instructions. I screamed on my first shot, when the gun practically jump out of my hands. Sgt. Spears looked like he wanted to scream also. He was patient but I pushed him to his limit. He told me if I made it far enough, the academy would straighten out my problems. Of course, Stacy did an excellent job.
The night before I left for the academy, Norman gave me a party. He invited Veronica and a few of my close friends. They made me a cake and wished me well. My daughters were both in attendance but Roger made his excuses and stayed away. I didn’t let him ruin my great evening. Everyone wanted to know if I was nervous. By then I was past nervous and had gone straight to petrified.
Stacy and I left Small Town first thing in the morning. We stayed in a hotel in Phoenix that night and were expected to be at the academy at 1300 hours the following day. Our hair had to be up and off our collar; we wore white dress shirts with black ties, black pants and black shoes. We had to carry our duty belts minus the guns and gear. We left our suitcases in our police issued unmarked vehicle and went inside. There were about thirty people standing around dressed like us. I only saw two other women.
Everything was going well until a military drill sergeant arrived. He was short, squat and had a loud voice.
“What are you doing?” He bellowed, “Get in formation NOW, NOW, NOW!”
He had several “helpers” with him. They were yelling as well. We began lining up and were told to count off. The first five people got it right but number six missed his turn.
“What the hell is your problem? Did you learn to count in kindergarten? Start over and this time, get it right.”
We made it to twenty-two.
Stacy blew it. Her eyes were huge and I thought she would cry. After more yelling we started over. This time we made it. There were thirty-five of us. Next, we were marched outside. The weather was expected to be 115 degrees that day. It felt like 120. Our stiff white shirts and ties were drenched with sweat within five minutes. About half of the cadets didn’t bring their duty belts with them, and the rest of us were made to stand at attention, in the hot sun, while they were given five minutes to run out to their cars.
We were placed in two lines by numbers. We were marched around the campus. PAFRA was located on a college campus. Students would not be arriving for another week. We would have the place to ourselves for now. We ran “double time” in the heat while the library, gym and cafeteria were pointed out. We ended about ten minutes later at the far west end of campus. Our classroom was stadium style. There were six rows and I was the third person in the fifth row. Stacy was next to me and a male cadet was first in our row. We would become squad five. There were seven total in our squad.
We were told we had one minute to get a drink of water and were sent to the fountain by squads. No one did more than wet their lips.
I was just getting my heart rate under control when the back door at the top corner of the room flew open. A metal garbage can was kicked down the classroom stairs and our class Sergeant stormed in. I thought the other guy was the sergeant but soon discovered my error. The new sergeant made the other look like a pansy.
“On your feet, I’m Sergeant Dickens and you will stand when I enter a room. You will address me as sir.” He had our attention. “Don’t eyeball me; you will look through me and not at me. Do you understand?”
“Yes Sir,” It came out weak. I wondered what the hell he meant. Through me, not at me? I guess I would be learning.
“What did you say? Is everybody here capable of saying yes sir? Or maybe you don’t understand. Do you understand?”
“YES SIR,” We were louder this time.
“If you have military experience I want you front and center immediately.” About ten guys started for the front of the room. “I didn’t tell you to walk. For the love of God, get down here now.” Their pace picked up.
Squad leaders were appointed and all sent back to their seats. Some seat shuffling went on as the squad leaders took the far right seats in each row. We were in luck; our guy already had the correct seat. Next, we were told to come forward when our names were called and we were given a name plate on yellow cardstock paper along with two large white paper filled binders.
Before my name was called, a young man dresses like us, looked into the room. One of the Sergeant’s helpers noticed him. “Who are you?” She asked.
“Mike Todd.” He answered.
“And what are you doing here Mike Todd?”
“I’m supposed to be in this class.”
“What time were you to be here?” She asked.
“What time is it?”
Mike looked at his watch and said, “1342 hours.”
“And you think you can come in late? Does this look like kindergarten? Sergeant Dickens, this fine young man is late.”
Sergeant Dickens walked over to Mike and got in his face. “Are you eyeballing me Mr. Todd?”
“You were eyeballing me and now you’re a liar as well as late. You have no business being here, get out. Go back and tell your department you were late. See how they like it. Now get the hell out of my room.”
Mike left. We never saw him again.
I learned two very important rules; don’t be late and double time means run like hell.
I also realized I had been thrown into the Hollywood set for the remake of Full Metal Jacket. I just wondered who would end up being our Pvt. Pyle and hoped it wasn’t me.
My story continues with: Bad Luck Cadet #6 – You Will Be Sent Home