How do you want your coffee?
Police officers are some very colorful characters. Look around at your fellow officers. You have some of the most colorful people standing at roll call with you that you will ever meet. Perhaps these colorful people are drawn to the job or perhaps the job creates these characters. It really doesn’t matter. It is part of what makes for some very interesting stories over a beer.
Since retirement, I have filled my time as an author. One of the hardest things most authors face is creating characters for their fiction. I don’t. The last 35 years of my life have been filled with colorful characters. I pattern my book’s characters after these people.
One such character was my friend Nicky C. Sadly, Nicky passed away a few years ago. He was a warm, friendly, hard-working man, who always had time for a story and cup of coffee. Nicky spent a large part of his career working in civilian dress and refused to wear blue jeans. Nick had Kevlar vest covers made to match his various outfits. My partner referred to him as a knight in shining polyester.
I will always remember the story he told me about a job he was assigned as a recruit, fresh out of the academy. With a smile on his face and a glimmer in his eye, he told me about a check the well-being call he and his training officer were assigned on one of his first days on the job.
Upon their arrival at the address, they tried all the doors and windows. Rang the bell and knocked on the doors. Finally, they forced their way in because the delightful perfume we all commonly refer to as “Stinker” was leaking from within.
They found the deceased, decomposing on the sofa in the front room. They called for the wagon to transport the man. Back then the CPD transported everyone who died at home. Once the wagon crew arrived they assessed the situation and set about the distasteful chore of removing this former person who was now a bloated sack of decaying meat and gasses.
Nick said the old timers on the wagon had things well in hand and was just standing there when one of the wagon men told him to go find some coffee and put it on the stove. It was a common practice to place coffee grounds in a pan on the stovetop and let it burn. The smell of burning coffee helped cover the stinker’s odor.
The wagon crew wrapped the deceased in an old sheet and moved him to the pole stretcher. He was lashed down with some old canvas straps. Most of the wagons had a body bag but if they used them they would never get a replacement and come the weekly inspection, they would be short. The pole stretchers looked like surplus from WWI.
They were ready to carry the body out and Nicky was still in the kitchen. Assuming they had a recruit, who didn’t have the stomach for the job, they called for him to get his ass out and give a hand.
Nicky came from the kitchen saying, “I couldn’t find any sugar and the milk was curdled so you’ll have to take it black.” He had a coffee pot and four coffee cups in his hands. He really didn’t understand why these guys wanted a cup of coffee at a time like this but who was he to question these seasoned veterans?
Nicky C. told me this story almost 30 years later and he had a smile on his face and a glimmer in his eyes as he spoke. He sipped his cup of coffee and drew on his smoke.
I like to think this is the way it happened. It fits in with his character.
I’m sure you know some other characters, good or bad. Share them with us. Remember, nothing that could get anyone indicted.
Remember to run low and zig-zag,
– Bob Weisskopf
Robert Weisskopf is a retired Chicago police lieutenant. In thirty years, he rose from police officer to sergeant, to lieutenant, serving every role in patrol with 18 months detailed to the Department of Housing and Urban Development leading a team for narcotics enforcement. He became a member of the Lieutenants Union and served as its’ president for six years negotiating two contracts. He also served as vice president of the Illinois Police Benevolent Protective Association. He’s a divorced father with three sons. You can view my website at BobWeisskopf.com.