Research can be fascinating and informative at the same time.
Case in point:
The gallup article referenced in the link below.
Life in College Matters for Life After College http://www.gallup.com/poll/168848/life-college-matters-life-college.aspx?utm_source=add_this&utm_medium=addthis.com&utm_campaign=sharing#.U5fjBbE8jfI.twitter
“I got a job offer.”
Vera having brokered the deal, Andrew found himself making nice in a fancy restaurant for the obligatory dinner celebrating Jesse’s culmination. He’d been introduced to and seated across from Jesse’s date, Angela. He was contemplating her neon red miniskirt with matching tube top, one inch nails and lip gloss, as she sat beside Jesse, who was looking at Vera, but very much speaking to Andrew.
“I didn’t realize that you had interviewed,” Andrew said, nor applied he thought. “Tell us about it.”
“The California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement wants me as a Special Agent.” Jesse glared at Andrew.
“Impressive,” Andrew chose the diplomatic route, ignoring the invitation to confront his son or doubt his veracity. “That sounds quite unusual, a state investigation agency hiring directly from a local academy.” Andrew turned to Angela and tried to control the tension by including her in the exchange. “How is your pasta?”
“Delicious thank you. I just love shrimp.”
Seated in a mahogany booth behind red velvet drapes, the foursome was elevated above the main dining room. Andrew loved the privacy afforded by the layout almost as much as the food at Hamilton’s, which featured steak. As the odor of garlic emanating from her plate made his eyes begin to water, Andrew’s doubts about Angela grew with each passing minute.
“I guess it would,” Jesse continued, ignoring the culinary review. “You know how LAPD runs that undercover program in the L.A. Unified School District?”
“I did when I worked there,” Andrew replied modestly, having once supervised it and personally run the training program for field officers.
“Well it has done so well they want to do something like it at State College.”
“Who are they?”
“The Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Team. It’s a task force,” he added, presumably for the women at the table.
Andrew let out a slow whistle. Vera smiled at first, then her face went blank when Andrew did’t speak. Andrew realized that being at State College, the largest public university, as well as the closest to South Hills, a private institution, meant that Jesse would be nearby. He wondered if he was the only one capable of understanding the danger involved.
“Let me be clear, Jesse. You are going undercover as a NARC on a campus with over 40,000 students, within walking distance from South Hills?”
“Is there a problem?”
“South Hills, where you just finished the police academy, where you went to high school, where Angela and God knows how many people know you…”
“Hey, hold up.”
“…Where any number of them know who I am.”
“What’s that have to do with me?”
“Andrew,” Vera tried, putting a hand on his arm.
“Jesse,” she added, looking very flustered.
“So I guess you didn’t calculate the likelihood that your cover could be blown with such a high probability of being recognized?”
Jesse looked at Vera, then Angela. He could only have seen what looked like obvious concern from both. He turned toward Andrew but his eyes were cast down at the table.
“So what are you saying, I can’t take the job?”
“No. I’m not telling you what you can or cannot do. What I will say is that I wonder how careful you can be, under the circumstances, when you bring the whole covert operation up, in casual conversation, at a restaurant.”
Jesse stood, set his napkin down and walked from the room. Angela swallowed some shrimp and scampered after him, touching Vera on the shoulder with one hand, as the other clawed the hemline of her skirt in a futile attempt at modesty. Vera turned and looked at Andrew with her mouth open.
“What?” He raised both hands, like a suspect being held at gunpoint, and waited.
The night I booked a suspect into jail and went back out on patrol without my firearm. I handled an entire call (with one hand over my holster) before driving back to the jail and retrieving my gun undetected.
The burglary scene where I left my posse box containing evidence. An hour after returning to the station, I remembered where I left the police report and the evidence, in my posse box at the home of the burglary. One phone call later, I was on my way back to the victim’s house. Not good.
Driving down Pacific Coast Highway when a couple ran across the street in front of me completely nude and entered an apartment. I stopped in the roadway and immediately was struck in the rear of my police crusier by a woman in an SUV. I had to call for a supervisor to investigate the collision while the culprits escaped.
The night I drove a drunk to his home instead of to jail. He passed out in the back seat and would not wake up. I had to drag him to the front door but I couldn’t find his keys. Finally I got him inside and left so I could drive back to the city I actually worked in.
The night I caught the armed robber. A robbery just ocurred in the Cheesecake Factory parking lot. The suspect was described with a gun and a vehicle driving north from the scene. After at least fifteen minutes with no sighting, I stopped on the road north of the restaurant. Apparently he had stopped too because he drove right past me 10 blocks from the scene of the crime. I followed him downtown where he pulled into a parking space, then I held him at gunpoint until backup arrived. He didn’t move. I found the loaded gun and the stolen property under the passenger seat. That was the knight I shined.
Things have changed since I was younger, in a way which I am unhappy about. I want it to be like it was in the ‘old days’. What do I mean by ‘old days’? I mean the days when some things were better than they are now some places. I want it to be like it was when we left our front doors unlocked, and NEVER gave it any thought. I want to look outside and see lots of little children selling homemade lemonade, BY THEMSELVES. I want popcorn balls, fresh baked cookies and cupcakes, even fruit handed out as a Halloween treat that’s safe to eat. I want back some of the innocence we’ve lost. Why did it happen? Did it have to happen? I miss it. Do you miss it too?
If you are younger than I am and you do not get what I am talking about, I apologize. I am sorry that you’ll never get the chance to experience what I’ve been describing so you can decide for yourself whether or not you agree with me. I’m sorry that the choice has been denied to you. Do you have somethings that I didn’t when I was your age? If so, is it a fair exchange? I don’t believe so. What would you trade for the loss of innocence? Is there anything left to lose? Is there anything more to gain?
“It’s always tempting to decry the present historical moment as uniquely depraved. More specifically, it’s easy to look at the Isla Vista shooter and say something about kids today. But kids today are like that because we made them like that. If we cherish the hope of fewer shooting sprees in the future, fewer guns would help. It would also help to discourage one half of the population from thinking of the other half as mechanisms that should be destroyed if they fail to respond appropriately to certain stimuli. The United States would be a safer place if there were fewer guns. It would also help if there were fewer rakes.”
This from the last paragraph of Jonathan Beecher Field’s essay Guns ‘N’ Rakes printed in Avidly
“He needs us to sign, Cassandra.” Andrew looked over at his wife. Her cafe au lait skin and narrow cheek bones highlighted the large round eyes that completed a look Andrew thought of as Egyptian regal. At that precise moment she turned from the vanity mirror and stared back at him. A challenge he refused to back down from.
“He’s seventeen. The Army requires parental consent before age eighteen.”
“I know how old he is. Don’t sit there and tell me what I know. I also know this country has been at war less than five months, a war I oppose in every way, Stone. People are being killed, being blown up every day. Don’t tell me you want me to give my baby permission to get involved in that. No.”
When she turned back to the mirror to do her eye lashes Andrew saw her watching for his reaction in the reflection.
“That would be five years from now, if ever. Jesse has four years at the academy to complete first, which begins a year from now assuming he gets accepted. And that’s only half of it. He also has to garner a congressional nomination, an even harder requirement. Only a handful is awarded each year. But just think about it, Cass. Do you realize what could happen in five years? That’s an eternity in terms of armed combat. It could long be over before then. Signing for him to go to the academy is not volunteering him to fight in Iraq.” Andrew stood and walked past her into the bathroom. He ran cold water in the sink and scooped his palms underneath, splashing his face with it. Looking up in the mirror he didn’t see a highly regarded fifty something police chief. Instead, he saw a tired looking, gray haired, middle aged man, who had failed to convince his wife that one agreement over a family matter was so vitally important.
Determined that the outcome of this conflict would serve as a referendum on their relationship, Andrew closed the faucet and went back to Cassandra, dripping water as he pressed a cream colored towel hard against his forehead.
“This isn’t just the Army. It’s West Point. The-”
“I know what the hell it is. Can you stop for one minute trying to tell me what I know? God help me.”
Andrew paused, his hands dropping beside him, the towel falling to the floor. It wasn’t only that his authority in the family was being questioned. Those attacks had begun long ago. This was also about respect. Cassandra had proven herself to be every bit his equal as an investigator, perhaps his superior. His wife was the head of the fraud unit for a major insurance company, which garnered a substantial six figure income that dwarfed his. Why should she listen to him? His argument had to not only be persuasive but also on the right side, if there was one.
“I apologize. But I have to tell you why you should sign.”
“Go ahead then, tell me, please. I gotta here this.” She put her brush down, swiveled the stool around, and crossed her arms, waiting. Andrew sat back on the bed, bending down to retrieve the towel as he did so.
“Your position is based on emotion, which may not be the best way to inform your decisions. Because of that you are missing the main focus of what this is about.”
“Uh huh, right. Why does this feel like another lecture?”
“What I’m trying to say is that it’s not about you, yet you’re acting as if it is. As a mother your instincts are to protect your child. And while I admire that I see Jesse for who he really is.”
“And I don’t?”
“No, I’m afraid you don’t, not in this case. He is seventeen. Your child but not a child. You act as if eighteen is a magic number and you get to make all the choices right up until his birthday but that’s just not the reality. He is already grown up. A man making difficult decisions about his own life. If you presume to do this for him you aim to take away the very thing he has earned a right to. It is his future Cass, not yours, can you see that? Can’t you also see that if by refusing to sign and preventing him from his dream, you won’t be on his side? Aren’t we supposed to be on his side? Instead you will forever be on the wrong side.”
“For the rest of Jesse’s life and that will be a very long time.”
“It had better be, Andrew.”
As a student I began to journal some 40 odd years ago. As a professor I’ve been encouraging my students to journal since 2007. While journals may take many different forms to serve diverse purposes, perhaps the simplest kind is one which reflects on everyday life experiences. Though simple, this technique has the potential to bring the most in terms of the benefit for the time spent writing.
Today I listened to an author’s presentation on healthy eating. It may prove to be one of the most important experiences in my life. I could decide to start a journal chronicling my new endeavor to alter my diet. Should the journey turn out to be successful, the words written about it might be employed to inspire others to seek similar achievements.
How about you? Have you ever considered writing a journal? What held you back? If you did begin one were you able to see it through to a satisfying conclusion? What were the obstacles that either prevented or delayed your eventual accomplishment?
Would you like to follow along as I venture into uncharted territory to harness my epicurean desires? Perhaps we can conquer together the mountains that stand between us and the rewards that accompany all those who retreat not from the discipline of becoming a master of the art of the pen.