Bad Luck Cadet #9 – I Will Never Call Dickface Dickless Again
My weekend consisted of lazing around and doing as little as possible. It didn’t matter that the house was a mess. Keeping the ice packs in place under the Ace bandages on my arms and legs was my first priority.
I felt somewhat better by Saturday night. My husband took me out to dinner and, with the help of few margaritas, I regaled him with an edited version of events. I didn’t tell him what awaited me on Monday. I made the entire academy experience sound like a lark. He was glad I was doing so well.
I left at two in the afternoon on Sunday and made it back to campus for study group. My class advisor had the short straw that week and he was in the classroom ready to prepare us for the test. His name was Cpl. Tsisonnee, pronounced Tis-on-knee. He was quiet and had not interacted much with the class. I needed advice and decided to speak with him after we finished.
He told me he had been informed of my transgression the previous Friday. He asked what I was going to do about it. I told him I needed to change Sgt. Dickens’ mind and somehow redeem myself. Cpl. Tsisonnee said it would be hard and it would take a lot of heart.
There was that phrase again. Sgt. Spears from STPD had used it too. Cpl. Tsisonnee said he believed in me and that I could succeed if I truly wanted to. I left feeling better.
The following morning no one looked at me but my two friends. Word had spread and I was not a person you wanted to be seen with. Rocco and Donna were my only allies. I think everyone else was surprised I’d returned.
For physical training we headed out to the POPAT training field. We were taken through the obstacle course, and I got to drag the dummy for the first time. It wasn’t easy.
Next, we headed to the fences. The chain link was not a problem because you could get a toehold in the fencing. The six-foot wall was a nightmare. There were five of us that couldn’t make it over. Rocco was one. Donna, though, made it over on her first try. Rocco and I decided we would head back out that evening and work on the wall some more.
Morning inspection was a nightmare. My shoes were perfect but not according to Sgt. Dickens. He stepped on my toe and then complained I had dust on my boot. He also complained about my hair wisps touching my collar. It didn’t stop there. He gave the entire class twenty push-ups for each infraction he found. He watched me like a hawk, and I managed to pull through the punishments.
During our first week, we were given school identification cards. We attached them to our shirt pockets. We were told if we lost an ID card it would be like losing our police badge and the punishments would be endless. A cadet reported his missing badge to our class leader, and Cadet Clark reported it to the sergeant. Sgt. Dickens told us to be at the running track for lunch.
Before the lunch punishment, we had to take our weekly test. I only missed five of eighty-five questions and had the fourth highest score in class. It was a relief but I was more worried about what was ahead because of the missing ID card. We double timed it to the track and saw Sgt. Dickens waiting for us.
There was a flock of large black birds on the football field and Sgt. Dickens told us one of the birds had our ID card. We started chasing the birds. Sgt. Dickens then shouted we needed to beg the birds to give us back the card.
We begged loudly saying, “Here birdy, birdy, give us back our ID card, please.”
We ran across the field and through campus following those damned birds. It was the first day of college for non-cadets and the students got a real kick out of us yelling at the birds. This went on throughout the entire lunch hour.
Sgt. Dickens then told us the birds had left the ID on the hill at the water tower and we could look after class. Starving and dehydrated, we headed back to the classroom.
We ran the hill that day until we couldn’t see straight. I think the only reason we were allowed to stop was that several cadets looked as if they might pass out.
When everyone left, I stayed behind to do my ten punishment hills. Cadet Clark told me he had to stay and monitor me. He waited at the bottom of the hill. A young cadet by the name of Philip Rodriguez (P-Rod) stayed behind too. He told me he didn’t want me to do the hills alone and he ran by my side.
As we ran, he told me about himself. I was incapable of speech at this point. Every breath was a struggle. Cadet Rodriguez was twenty years old and would be turning twenty-one in a few weeks. He’d worked at a county jail until he was old enough to attend the police academy.
He said he admired me for coming when I was so old. I didn’t take offense. I was feeling particularly ancient and just happy to have someone with me. He chatted the entire time and didn’t seem to mind that I had no breath to spare. Fortunately, I didn’t have any food in my system to throw up or I would have.
Cadet Rodriguez told me he was struggling with the weekly classroom tests and asked if I would consider tutoring him. His contribution would be shining my shoes nightly. We made a deal.
After we finished the hill runs, I went to Rodriguez’s room with my notes and boots in hand. His roommates were busy shining their boots and said they wanted to participate in the study session.
The cadets passed around my boots while I reviewed my notes. As the weeks went by, more cadets joined us in that small room and I also had a study group at my breakfast table on Monday mornings before the test. I found a way to be useful.
The next day I began the Push-up Club. During each ten-minute break I worked on my push-ups. Rocco joined me. We added one push-up per day’s session and I kept track of our totals for the entire day, week, and month.
Including our morning punishment for inspection, the Push-up Club did 843 push-ups our first week. It started with just me and Rocco, but soon we had about ten cadets joining us. I don’t think they needed to do the additional exercise but Sgt. Dickens and our advisors noticed our efforts. Anything that made us look good was on the agenda. The staff told us repeatedly that we were pieces of shit and not fit to wear a badge. Doing extra push-ups took the value of their threats away and gave us an edge.
Finally, Sgt. Dickens gave permission to wear our duty belts so we no longer had to carry it with us everywhere. They issued us blue guns so we could practice our draw. Blue guns are hard rubber imitation firearms, matching our department issue gun. Thank God I had gone out shooting before the academy and knew what kind of gun I had.
By the end of the week my fellow cadets treated me normally, but Sgt. Dickens was not happy. On Friday, I was given an additional ten hill runs for dropping a piece of paper on the floor in the hallway. We only had five hills to run as a group that Friday and the entire class ran my ten with me. As I ran, there was a litany going through my head.
“I will never call Dickface Dickless again. I will never call Dickface Dickless again. I will never…”
And on it went. I knew this recitation would probably come out at the worst time and I was doing myself more harm than good. Saying those words got me up those fucking hills when I didn’t think I would make it.
Sgt. Dickens was right. He made my life hell. But I had survived.
And I only had fifteen more weeks to go.