Bad Luck Cadet #2 – Jumping Hurdles
The week dragged by as I waited for the next stage in the police academy entrance tests. I looked up Cooper Standards on the Internet. Divided by sex, it factors in age and gives levels for superior, excellent, good, fair, poor, and very poor standards. If I used the good category for my age and sex, I needed to be able to perform one 17.7 inch vertical jump, 28 sit-ups and 15 push-ups in one minute, and run 300 meters in 72 seconds and 1.5 miles in 13 minutes and 58 seconds.
Were they out of their cotton picking minds?
I was averaging a 14-minute mile and thought that was good. The sit-ups and push-ups wouldn’t be a problem. But I had no clue as to my abilities on the 300 meters or the vertical jump.
Now was the time to find out. I decided to head over to the high school’s track and start timing myself. Maybe I could push everything up a notch or two in the time I had. It was probably my hardest workout. My body ached with the additional exercise and I was beginning to think I might not have it in me. In the end, I managed to shave a whole minute off my mile. But, I was sure that extra half-mile was going to kill me.
My phone rang at precisely 0800 hours on Monday morning. I was asked to meet at the track at 0800 the following day. I decided to give my body a rest and take it easy. I jumped on the scale and was down another five pounds. I had fifteen more to go to reach my personal goal.
The following day was overcast, cold, and gloomy. I again arrived early but this time got out of my car and went to stretch.
Everyone began arriving. There were only five of us—three men and two women. The other female was a spunky little thing. She didn’t say much to me, mostly just flirted with the guys. I’ll call one Mr. Muscle and the other two Curly and Mo. Miss Ponytail rounded out our crew. Sgt. Spears told us we would be doing the push-ups and sit-ups first.
The other four recruits (see, I was learning the terminology) chose each other as partners. I was left with Sgt. Spears. I actually finished in the excellent category according to Cooper Standards. Next was the vertical jump. I managed 18 inches. It was the only test I beat Miss Ponytail on. Next we had the 300-meter run. I finished in 70 seconds, leaving two seconds to spare. We then had the mile and a half run. I gave it everything I had. It didn’t matter that I finished last I just wanted to finish under my time.
Mr. Muscle stopped running about halfway through and walked a lap. He still beat me. Curly also walked part of the way and finished before I did. I missed my time by 35 seconds. It put me in the fair category. I didn’t know if it was enough, but I knew I had given it everything I had.
Sgt. Spears said he would call us all the next day. I went home and ate a bowl of ice cream. I then ate another bowlful and added chocolate syrup on top. I hid my crime by washing and drying the bowl and spoon. Torn between dread and anticipation, I tossed and turned most of the night.
Before my husband left in the morning, he told me not to feel bad that I hadn’t accomplished my goal. He said I needed to pick something a little more attainable the next time. I’m sure he somehow thought this would make me feel better. I knew he rooted for me and most of all wanted me happy. The thought of not making it into the academy was something I just couldn’t accept. His statement gave me the incentive to try again if I failed this time. One way or another, I would not give up on this dream. I wanted it too much.
The call came early. The secretary asked me to come into the station at 0900.
I was the only recruit there. Sgt. Spears did not look happy. He asked me to sit. I sat.
“Look, I don’t think you have what it takes,” he said honestly. “I don’t think you’ll survive a week at the academy.” His gaze was as direct as that long ago counselor. “You don’t seem tough enough and this is a tough business. I think you showed guts, though, by going this far. I had two young, strong men stop running yesterday and take it easy when they could have done better. I don’t think you could have done better but you never stopped. Those two men are out of the program. That leaves three of you. I’m going to include you in the poly and psych tests. I also want you to have the physical exam. I’ll give you a chance. You showed heart and sometimes as police professionals, that’s all we have.”
That was it. I told him I was available for the tests and thanked him.
I still had a chance.