Saturday, December 10, 2011

Looking For Lockers in All the Wrong Places

We were told, unofficially of course, that our new commands would probably be short on lockers for us, and that the wise rookie would show up on the Friday night prior to their Monday assignment to arrange a proper locker for themselves.
I had never driven in the South Bronx prior to that Friday night.  Never had any desire nor need.  As this was before Mapquest and GPS’s I convinced my friend Kenny to make the trip with me.  He’d navigate, I’d drive.
Surprisingly enough we found the precinct without much difficulty.  It was dark and cold when we arrived.  I noticed there were three others milling about in front of the building.  One I recognized from my gym block.  Great!  Three more rookies to fight over a locker.
Chris, the one I recognized, walked up to me right away.  
“You’re here for a locker too.”  It was a statement, not a question.  “That makes four of us.  We haven’t gone in yet, but since you’re here, we may as well.”
So the four of us walked in through the large double wooden doors (the same doors you see in the outside shots of the police precinct in the movie Fort Apache, The Bronx), with me somehow in the front of the small pack.  I’m still not sure how that happened, as I wanted to be in the back.
I’ve noticed over the years that walking into a police precinct for the first time is always an unsettling experience.  You know you don’t belong.  Even if you’re a member of the same department, it’s not your precinct.  It’s not your home.  You’re a stranger.  At  best you’re a guest, but it takes a while before it becomes your home.  We definitely did not feel welcome.
“Uhm, excuse me Sarge” I said to the Sergeant behind the desk.  He sat high, as the desk area was raised above the floor by a step in the first place, and his chair was probably set as high as it could be.  He was eating some kind of meat and rice dish, had food stains on his shirt and tie (some looked new, others old) and didn’t even look up from his food when he addressed us.
“Let me guess, rooks looking for lockers.  Well, we aint got none, so you’ll be changing in your cars.”  It was at this point he looked up from his food and made a show of wiping his face with a paper napkin.
“You do know where you are, right?  This is the Four-Two Precinct.  We are the asshole of The Bronx!”  He must have seen the looks on our faces - fear, confusion, you name it, because then he explained.
“To the east we have the Four-One, to the west we have the Four-Four, and to the South we have the Four-Oh.  A pair of ass cheeks and balls below us.  We are the asshole.  Smack in the middle of The South Bronx.  I’d have one of the cops drive you around and give you a show, but we have two shootings going on and ain’t noone here to take ya... heh.”
“Well, watcha waiting for!  I told you there weren’t any!  Get outa my house!”
So went my first night in the Four-Two Precinct.

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