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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Breaking the Rules (08/16/04)

TITLE: The Unspoken Rules of Men in Blue
By Joanne Malley


“Hey, Scott…want some coffee before you head out for your shift?”

“Yeah, sounds good. Just let me put my holster on. Man, this bullet-proof vest is a killer on hot days.”

“Sure is,” replied Mike. “That’s why I’m glad I’m in charge. I’ll be in air conditioning today. It stinks to be you, pal!”

“Thanks,” I replied, shooting him a look that could kill like my 9mm Heckler & Koch.

I gulped down my early morning coffee to charge up my attitude and my tired body.

As I took a glance in the old cracked mirror, I made sure no one was watching my Clint Eastwood “look” as I worked to perfect it. “Make my day” slipped out quietly from under my breath. I was a shoe-in for Dirty Harry!

Feeling a bit of pride and a dose of accomplishment through my career as a State Trooper, I thought about the daily risks I take, as well as the rules and regulations I must remember in order to uphold the law. I also thought about the people who break the rules on a daily basis. It was like fighting a losing battle.

Our own unspoken rules as Troopers are sometimes hard to comply with, ones that won’t be found in any book of regulations, and ones that should never be broken. These unspoken rules are ones the public doesn’t even realize exist.

Little do they know that Rule #1 is to always be on guard (one rule to never break). We must also help to save our partner’s life as we risk our own, we must be unshakable in our attitude, ultra positive in our outlook, and completely confident while possessing the most intimidating look we can muster. We must be able to handle any circumstance, deal with any danger, and NEVER bring our work home!

After another quick gander at myself in the mirror, I was completely convinced that as part Dirty Harry, part Trooper, (with the spit-shined shoes and my “heater” at my side), I was ready to do my crazy job again. I quickly shifted mental gears and prepared myself to cross paths with at least a few creeps today.

I grabbed my keys and was out of the station. I had a tank-full of gas, checked my radio and my shotgun, and was off to find God knows what! Was it drugs, speeding teenagers or a motor vehicle accident with casualties? Would I be on a foot-chase, a car-chase or be telling someone they lost a son? Would I lose my own life today?

Not willing to even consider the last scenario, I shook that thought away immediately. I consciously allowed my mind to be void of any negativity as I mentally implanted a positive thought about getting home to my wife and kids at the end of the day.

Once on Rte. I-195, I found myself driving for miles with absolutely no excitement ahead of me. I normally like the challenge of the thrill, but sometimes danger is overrated!

I lowered my speed to take a morning joy ride along the quiet Interstate and saw something in the roadway several hundred feet ahead. I slowed down even more and came to a complete stop on the side. At this point, I was prepared for anything.

What I saw in the roadway was a complete surprise…something that I’d never dealt with before…something I actually wasn’t prepared for…something that… put a smile on my face! A mother duck was crossing the Interstate while her five little ducklings followed behind! She must have come out of the brush near the creek.

A few cars began to approach the ducks and I from far away and I quickly began to stop traffic so I could shuffle the little family, one by one, across to safety.

When my shift was over, I realized I broke many of the unspoken rules of being a State Trooper. I wasn’t on guard, I used no intimidating looks, and I was certainly shakable in my attitude! I succumbed to the cuteness of the whole scenario!

I did break one other rule this morning. It was that of leaving my job at work—I just couldn’t comply. I was definitely going to share this rather “untypical” day with my wife!

Eat your heart out, Dirty Harry! You may be your own kind of smooth talkin’ rule-breaker, but you never saved a duck family!

Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Lee Schab 08/23/04
Very cute, Joanne! Great touch of humor (loved the reference to Clint Eastwood & "Dirty Harry")
Good job!
Blessings, Lynda
Sheila Boyd08/23/04
A few cars began to approach the ducks and I from far away and I quickly began to stop traffic so I could shuffle the little family, one by one, across to safety. Perhaps you should consider rewriting this sentence more clearly---other than that perfect. A beautiful story well told. Absolutely precious! Loved it!!
Kevin Kindrick08/23/04
I loved this article. It put a smile on my face, and renewed joy in my heart. Thank you for lifting my spirits. Keep it up.

God bless

Blantina Jones08/23/04
Fun to read! Thanks for sharing.
darlene hight08/23/04
Very fun!
Lucian Thompson08/23/04
Wow! I am impressed! How did a woman write a man’s day as a Trooper and pull it off so well? You expressed some of the unspoken rules Law Enforcers live by each day. Surely a member of your family must be that Trooper. I, myself, never got that Dirty Harry look down very well. I spent too much time practicing, “Up against the wall, sucker!” Thanks for the memories.
Marina Rojas08/23/04
JoAnne, I so admire your talent at story telling. Something as simple as a macho cop and a duck family crossing paths has been forever etched into my heart's endearment. Your work is just a blessing to read!
L.M. Lee08/24/04
oh what a great story!
John Hunt08/25/04
Great story. It's wonderful to be reminded that cops have hearts, too.
Thanks for sharing.
Sylvia Spielman08/28/04
Joanne, this is great! My father was a police officer. My son and two of my dear friends are, as well. I really appreciate the part where you describe the mental place officers have to get to in order to do their job -- very accurate. A really good article! Sylvia
Melanie Kerr 08/29/04
I have done that before - stopping to let a family of ducks cross the road! I am not a macho policeman though - just a soft hearted driver.