It is funny how one tale can lead to another when it leads to unlocking some memories from my brain housing group (US Marine lingo for your head). It was back in 1974 when I was a uniformed officer for the City of Orange, in Southern California.
EDITOR’S NOTE: SEE PART 1 BELOW:
I was covering an overtime switch on “Day Watch” (0700 hrs to 1500 hrs) on my regular day off. There was one important thing to do upon to always do (as the roll call sergeant would stress) – get your police unit washed since it was seen during the day by our local denizens and brass. I guess it was our way of keeping our brand bright and shiny.
Me being still within my infant years as a street cop followed the old sergeants directive, and I was the first car at the Orange Car Wash located at 200 North Tustin Avenue in that very pleasant day in Spring. I put myself out of service at the car wash via radio dispatch. I patiently waited outside as my unit was on the car conveyor belt as it went through the stages of the auto wash cycles. It then was deposited into the hands of the manual laborers (mostly Hispanics) who would vacuum, dry and armor all the tires and dash as I waited to give them each a buck “propina” (tip) for their excellent service.
Low and behold to my chagrin and puzzlement the one laborer calmly sat in my rear seat (caged with self-locking rear doors) and I simply thought that he had accidentally locked himself in my unit. I also thought that his compadres were just playing a prank on him.
Note: At this juncture in my earlier LEO (law enforcement officer) career, I did not hablar Espanol even a poco.
I opened the rear passenger door and patiently waited for this 20-something male to sheepishly slid out with an embarrassing smile – but he remained still with a blank expression on his face. I then asked some of his fellow amigos to ask him to kindly get out of my spiffy clean police car. None of these hombres were successful in eliciting my stoned-face passenger to exit my mobile office. Finally, I requested via radio for a Spanish-speaking Officer to meet me at the car wash for assistance. My request also caused the watch sergeant to respond as well as the day watch commander to ask why would Officer Pitocco need assistance at the car wash? Inquiring minds wanted to know?
I was still puzzled myself don’t you know. Well, my Spanish-speaking Officer arrived who was followed by the patrol sergeant and by the watch commander lieutenant. Gee whiz I thought, now I know why most veteran officers prefer not to work day watch! Within moments the car wash caper was solved after some animated conversation between my follow-up officer and my car wash passenger. I learned that he was a wanted person for a murder in Texas and had an outstanding arrest warrant for such. Well, good old (young and dumb at the time) Gumshoe-in-the-making cleared the routine car wash with one repented suspect wanted for 187 (murder).
All in a day’s work and another case closed.
PS: From that day on I decided to start to learn some street Spanish in my brain housing unit. See my past articles in Adventures in Espanol.
Well, kind folks, that’s my story and I am sticking to it. Remember to love the ones who love you and even The Who don’t.