Saturday, September 12, 2009

Life on the street

Most coppers spend a third of their lives on the street. It's either in patrol cars, as detectives, or other specialized units but basically they spend a huge part of life as street people. That's the attraction that keeps coppers happy. The entertainment value alone is worth the hassle of having to fight crime. It's been described as being a teenager all your life, riding around in a car with your buddy, wearing leather jackets, and messing with people. It's addicting. If a copper doesn't develop a life outside of the job, it's painful to have to retire. Retirement is getting grounded and not being allowed to hang out with your pals on the street any more (teenager analogy).
Being out on the street so much means either eating in restaurants or brown bagging it and not many officers are that concerned with healthy vittles. So what do coppers do? Some find a hospital or hotel employee cafeteria that treats officers like employees and charges little or nothing for a meal. Others discover which places provide a "police discount," sometimes up to half off the menu prices. The experienced, "savvy" coppers find and develop a good relationship with a nice restaurant and get fed for free. These are well kept secrets. If you tell one guy about it soon the whole city knows. Coppers tend to ruin a good thing. They either go there too often or are so cheap they don't tip the waitresses. Soon, the manager gets tired of the crowd of police coming in and stops the perk. The smart officer develops a couple of "freebies" and rotates the visits. Plus tipping the waitress a few dollars keeps up the good will so she doesn't "forget" about the perk.
There are some drawbacks to avoiding the "full boat" restaurants. It gets embarrassing to enter a hospital cafeteria and finding enough coppers there to hold roll call. Other places, like the 24 hour joints, give the half off because of the other riffraff that frequent the place. A copper never know what he may have to do to earn that meal. It's been said there's no such thing as a free lunch. The manager of the freebie probably has the coppers card with a cell phone number on it. Guess who he calls when he has a problem. Last but not least, the big city has "inspectors" driving around looking for police misdeeds, such as congregating at any one location without performing a police function.
Now there are real cheapskates who have been known to put on a uniform on a day off to get a free meal at the hospital or hotel cafeteria. Others have been seen bringing the family to avoid spending money. Worst of all is the one who eats then orders two dinners to go and still only leaves a dollar for the waitress.
The reality of life on the street for the big city copper can get complicated. He has to remember to only order the "tall" size regular or decaf. The larger fancy lattes are full boat. He has to keep track of where he ate yesterday so he doesn't burn out the good locations. Most importantly, he has to keep a few dollars handy for the tip jar or waitress.
So as you can see, it's not always easy being a big city copper.

1 comment:

  1. There are certain people who I will not eat with. That is the Comanche in me. If I get a half off, I remember the waitress a lot more with a tip. I have watched officers do what you discribe and I try to put them in their place and I also make it known to the squad and other officers how cheap they are. I take care of my waitresses because they are the ones who really bust their ass for little money. I do rotate places that give a break. I also have a couple of fav's that are full price.

    The joke around the station is to ask the TGR to lunch and if he declines you are a marked person.



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