What’s it like to work undercover? Well, there’s this…
1. No longer having to schedule time for haircuts.
2. Devoting time to maintaining the proper amount and length of facial hair.
3. Your uniform du jour is a Led Zeppelin t-shirt, old jeans, and tennis shoes.
4. Getting to drive cool cars, such as a rusty and dented Ford Pinto.
5. Having a two-beer limit on allowable consumption of alcohol while working.
6. The joy of hanging out/socializing with drug dealers, gang members, and killers.
7. Playing dress-up for a living.
8. Not having to wear a hot, smelly Kevlar vest but sometimes wishing you could wear a hot smelly Kevlar vest.
9. Not having to carry a heavy gun on your side but really, really missing the familiar comfort associated with the weight.
10. Working your own hours as the need dictates (drug deals, gun shipments, etc.).
11. Tattoos are part of your uniform.
12. Drinking beer from a can still wrapped in a paper bag, even when you don’t like the taste of beer.
13. Remembering not to wave and smile when you see one of your cop co-workers, and hope they’ll remember to do the same in return.
And, when the assignment ends…
1. You have to shave and cut your hair.
2. Shaving for the first time in many months causes your face and neck to burn…intensely.
3. The feeling of stepping outside after getting that haircut. The world looks brighter and fresher. Skies are bluer. The air feels crisp and clean when it first brushes against your exposed neck. But you feel totally naked and exposed to the world.
4. It feels great to be back at work, but you sort of miss not wearing that clunky, stinky vest and that heavy gun. And you actually kind of miss being out at night, hanging out in the streets while sipping beer from cans concealed inside paper bags.
5. You sometimes catch yourself attempting to push your non-existent hair away from eyes.
6. You have a better understanding of what it’s like to be on the other side of the badge, and you’re extremely happy to be carrying handcuffs instead of wearing them.
* Yes, that’s me in the top photo. The hair disappeared a few days later.