My midlife crisis started with a broken hip that started with a smart horse and a dumb rider. I was forty years old and forty pounds over weight. My horse was in great shape and enjoyed my pain tremendously. He laughed all the way to his new owners. I cried all the way to the hospital.
I convalesced for two months. During that time I watched television, read books, surfed the web and ate lots of junk food. My forty pounds soon became fifty and I think depression set in. I never suffered from depression before so I can’t be positive. It may have just been the pain pills.
As soon as I could walk again without the walker, I decided I needed to make some changes. But what changes? What did I want to do with the rest of my life?
An ad on the drugstore bulletin board changed everything:
Small Town looking for a few good men and women!
Must have a crime free background,
Must work well with others,
Must be able to physically undergo the rigors of the police academy,
Must be able to complete what you start.
Must be 21 years old but you’re never too old.
Academy begins August 15.
Six months away, never too old! This was for me. I could actually picture myself in a police uniform. I had always looked good in navy.
I stepped back from the police academy ad and my reflection appeared in the glass. Who was this overweight slob looking back at me? I had no excuse. I was forty pounds too heavy before my accident. And I might have under exaggerated the extra ten pounds since the accident.
Things needed to change. I needed to change.
I looked back at the ad. What would my kids say? What would my friends think?
My husband would be no help. He would sit in his big easy chair and say, “Yes dear.” I needed Veronica. She’s that one friend everyone has but likes to hate. She’s in great shape, she’s a vegetarian and she believes volunteer work is good for the soul. Veronica’s that kind of friend.
Over the next two months Veronica kicked my butt. She never gave up and felt it was her own personal volunteer goal to see I dropped the weight and got in shape. She agreed not to tell our friends. I agreed to keep her latest nose job to myself. We were both happy but I was in pain. My legs hurt, my arms hurt and my butt hurt.
What I needed was another prescription for pain pills but I knew I would need to pass the urine test and it wouldn’t look good to have narcotics in my blood stream even if they were legal. So I suffered through.
As my stomach shrank the small food portions I was consuming became more bearable. My pants became too large and my breasts too small. My husband was the only one who complained. I started to feel like I was in my twenties, well maybe thirties. I had more energy and wanted to exercise all the time. I went to Small Town’s police department and picked up an application.
Yes, I lived in the Arizona town of Small Town. It is frequently confused with Nowhere, Arizona. My husband and I moved here ten years ago. He sells widgets to power plants and two of the largest power plants in the country reside in Small Town. Norman also had a pilot’s license and flew to other large power plants. There was a lot of money to be made in power plant widget sales.
There were two reasons I married Norman. One was because I loved him and the other was for his last name. Ivy just went along with Suzie. My maiden name was actually Suzanna Shultz. Need I say more?
The police application was twenty-two pages long. It required my life history, copies of my birth certificate and high school diploma and it had to be notarized and turned in by the deadline of June 1. Two weeks away. It was time to tell Norman and my kids.
Technically they were not kids any longer. They were young adults just beginning their lives. My oldest, Letty, thought she had finally found the “right man.” Roger, the middle child and my only son, thought he wanted to be a power plant operator. My youngest, Cassie, just graduated high school. She would be leaving for college when I left for the police academy.
Norman accepted my announcement like I knew he would. I’m surprised he didn’t pat me on the head. I didn’t think this was a good time to explain I would be living on campus five hours away and he would be cooking his own dinners.
My kids were a different story. Roger thought I was out of my mind. He actually stormed out of the house. I knew he would be back; he lived with us rent free. Letty thought I was menopausal, too old and even after losing thirty pounds, too fat. Cassie, bless her heart, sided with me.
“If this is what you want mom, I think it’s great.” She said.
It actually didn’t matter what anyone said. My mind was made up and I’d been working my ass off to reach my goals. I finished the application and turned it in with a week to spare. I was called to begin the first round of eliminations.
There were sixteen people in the room not including Sergeant Spears. He told everyone he would begin checking our backgrounds after we passed a written examination. Two people walked out without completing the test. I spent the first hour answering questions and the second hour checking my work. The test wasn’t exactly hard but it made you think about and analyze the questions.
I looked around and I realized the applicants were young. All appeared to be in their twenties. Maybe this was not such a good idea. How could I compete? I turned in my test and went home.
A miserable three days later I got a call.
Sergeant Spears wanted to speak with me in person. He scheduled the appointment for 1300 hours. Thank god I was an army brat and knew what he meant. I arrived two minutes early. I didn’t want to show my eagerness but I absolutely didn’t want to be late. I waited around the corner for thirty minutes before pulling into the parking lot.
I was shown to Sergeant Spears’ office. He looked me up and down as I entered. Not in a male female sort of way but in a “she’s completely lacking sort of way.” He asked me to have a seat.
“What makes you think you can be a police officer?”
“I’m organized, I’m intelligent and I love mystery novels, not the cozies but the real hard core ones.”
He rubbed his forehead and then the back of his neck, I didn’t think it was a good sign. He shook his head and then looked at me again.
“From what we have found so far you have a clean record. I believe you received a traffic citation five years ago but went to traffic school. As we dig deeper, are we going to find out anything?”
“I’m a Democrat.”
There, it was out. I’d been reading up on police officers and they were overwhelmingly Republicans. Not that it would be anything new, I was an out spoken democrat in a town that was overwhelmingly republican and took its politics seriously.
Sergeant Spears just stared. I stared back without breaking eye contact.
“You scored the highest on the written test. I’ve been giving that test for three years and yours is the highest score ever.”
Boy there must be some dumb kids now a days.
“If everything checks out you will need to pass a physical, psychological and polygraph tests. You will also be required to meet Cooper Standards for running, pushups and sit ups. Can you?”
“Yes I can.” I said emphatically.
He studied me another minute.
“Okay we’ll be calling one way or another by early next week. Be ready.”
I held my elation in check as I went out the door. It wasn’t hard.
What the heck was a Cooper Test?