Over the hill, they said. The nerve of those youngsters, with their shiny round faces and buzz-cut hairdos. Why, it was just ten or fifteen years ago when I could deftly place sixty rounds dead-center of the target, leaving nothing but an irregularly-shaped and tattered fist-size hole.
I could read a rear license place from a distance of twenty car lengths or more. And I could chase a punk for miles and then bring him down and handcuff him, like a rancher ropes a steer. Toe-to-toe and fist-to-fist, I could hold my own against any combative man, or woman.
Push-ups … could do them all night long.
Pursuit driving … piece of cake.
Now, mere days after receiving my thirty-year service pin, well …
Each time I lift my left foot to put on a sock, there’s a strange and quite sharp pain that shoots through the hip on the same side. So I’ve resorted to slipping the sock over my foot while it’s flat on the floor. This works okay, but leaning over far enough to reach my toes tends to cause a painful twinge in my lower back.
Tomorrow we’re scheduled to re-qualify at the range. I hope I score the required 70%. Otherwise, you get a second try at it before the department sends you packing. Can’t shoot, can’t be a cop. Simple as that. The last time I was there I sort of pointed my gun at where I thought the middle of the target should be and then hoped for the best. I scored 72%. I was just happy I passed and was able to keep my job.
Either bad guys are getting faster these days, or my old legs have decided they no longer care if we catch them or not. And my breathing … wow, when did all that wheezing start? I used to be able to run ten miles without feeling as if my inside were about to explode into tiny bits of fire.
Speaking of getting faster. Today’s crooks must be driving super-fast, souped-up cars because I can’t seem to keep up during pursuits. They dodge and weave and glide through traffic like an olympic figure skater slips and slides across an ice rink. Me, my movements are herky-jerky, at best. I think the patrol cars they give us these days are designed to resist quick steering and acceleration. And they definitely prefer to move along at slower speeds than the cars we used to drive twenty years ago. Man, those cars could cut through traffic like a freshly-honed paring knife slices through butter.
Police supply companies have lost all my respect. Believe it or not, they’re cutting corners like all other businesses. The shoes they sell us are horrible. I say this with authority. Yes, I know what I’m talking bout. These two feet of mine are screaming at the end of the day. I know, without a doubt, it’s the shoes. My feet are not to blame. Sure, there’s a little arthritis in the toes. Still … It’s the shoes.
It seems like just yesterday when I put my hands on someone to cuff them and they
did not could not pull free. Today, these youngster must spend every waking moment in a gym because they, every one of them, are as strong as a team of plow horses. It’s tough to get restraints around the wrists of these super-strong people. Women are equally as strong. It has to be them, because I’m just as strong as I ever was. Really, I am.
I’ve still not quite mastered the computer thing. I’d still rather hand-write reports. Or, the old Royal in the corner is still just as fast and good as ever. Ribbon’s almost new, too.
The boss tells me there’s an opening in the evidence room. The job consists of taking stuff officers bring in, assign it a number, and then stick it on a shelf until someone comes by to pick it up. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. That’s the job. Day after day after day. She wants me to take it. I don’t want to. Can’t really make out all the fine print on those evidence labels. I guess my eyes are just tired after all those years of reading and writing detailed reports.
Maybe, though, I should take the sergeant’s advice. After all, she says, next time I go to the range I may shoot a 68.
And, well, a 68 just isn’t good enough …
… and I love my job.
Really, I do.