Bad Luck Cadet #10 – I Have An Egg Head
After my week in hell, courtesy of Sgt. Dickens, I finally broke down and told my husband everything going on at the academy. He was sympathetic and gave me a fantastic full-body massage that night. When I told him of my plan for returning to the academy on Sunday, he helped implement it and encouraged me through my tears.
Sgt. Dickens could point out anything he wanted at Monday morning inspection but he would never again be given the chance to complain about my hair touching my collar. I loved my hair and so did my husband. But I was determined to finish what I started. I took my inspiration from Demi Moore in the movie G.I. Jane deciding if sacrificing my hair would help—it was a small price to pay. My resolve only grew stronger with every snip.
I arrived at the study session Sunday night with short hair for the first time in my life. I just wish I was one of those women who looked good with a butch cut. My head looked like an egg with a nose.
Monday morning at physical training I made it over the six-foot wall for the first time. I was so excited I forgot to run the twenty-five yards to complete the event. It didn’t matter, the entire class was cheering and Sgt. Listberg gave me a huge hug. Everyone said it was because I was ten pounds lighter without my hair.
Sgt. Dickens never batted an eye at my shorn locks that no longer had wisps hitting my collar. Even short, he found a piece of lint on my back pocket and gave us ten push-ups. I knew I wasn’t out of the woods, but it was nice to have some of the pressure off. Unfortunately, my roommate became the next target.
If we wanted to communicate with our advisors, we had to write a memo. We were given light blue paper, told to print in all capital letters, and not to scratch out or erase anything. The blue paper showed the erasure lines. Misspelled words were another no-no. When we finished our memo, we handed it to our squad leader and he in turn gave it to our class leader. Both would review and correct each memo, giving back any they found with problems.
Donna decided she was tired of Sgt. Dickens and squad advisors coming into the classroom and monitoring us while we focused on schoolwork. If an infraction was seen during class, we were pulled outside on the next break and given push-ups. We all held our breath when one of our superiors came into the room. Donna was right; it made it hard to concentrate.
Donna wrote this in a memo to the academy staff. It was first given to her squad leader and next to our class leader, and then turned in. The next morning was the reprisal.
During morning inspection Donna was asked to step front and center. She was then asked if she wrote the memo. It had her name on it, but I guess Sgt. Dickens was making a point. Her squad leader was called up next and asked if he read the memo and if he agreed with Donna’s analysis. He stated he did and yes he agreed. Cadet Clark, the class leader, was called next. He also stated he agreed.
Sgt. Dickens asked if anyone disagreed with Cadet Chavez. Not one person stepped forward.
“The entire group of you,” said Sgt. Dickens, “are nothing but a class of fucking babies. I’m embarrassed to be your sergeant. I’m embarrassed you think you can be police officers. Not fair?” he screamed. “Not fair? I’ll show you ‘not fair!’ You will each turn in a ten-page memo by tomorrow morning on what is not fair in life. You will proceed with one hundred push-ups this morning and twenty hill runs after class to give you a start on your memos. One of us will now be in the classroom at all times and you will learn what ‘fair’ is all about. Cadet Higgins you may lead the class in push-ups.”
And so it began. If we stopped or got out of sync, Sgt. Dickens was in our face. We struggled through. During class we weren’t just pulled out during break, we were pulled out during classroom time and told to do more push-ups.
The Push-up Club did not exist that day.
After our classroom torture was finished, we headed to the hill for our twenty hill runs. Once those were accomplished, we headed back to our dorms to begin writing our memos. I didn’t go to bed until 0230. Donna cried for hours. She felt horrible about the entire class being punished for her memo. I tried to explain to her that Sgt. Dickens was psyching her out and she had to toughen up.
We turned our memos into our squad leaders before breakfast. Some came back, and cadets spent breakfast rewriting the page that had a mistake. The memos were eventually turned into the sergeant, and our classroom time continued to be hell that week. I lost count of the number of push-ups we did.
Wednesday, according to our calendar, was expandable baton training and we had to bring them to morning physical training. There was no inspection and we spent the day learning the ins and outs of controlling someone with a baton.
My biggest fear was having my baton taken away and getting beaten with it. But we learned techniques for keeping the bad guy from accomplishing this. I also learned why we did so many push-ups. I could barely hold the baton by the end of the day, and I’m sure I would have dropped it three weeks before. After completing baton training, we had permission to carry our batons on our duty belts.
Donna was talking about not returning after the weekend. I made her promise she would come back but I had my doubts. Sgt. Dickens was singling her out during inspection and she could do nothing right. The psychological abuse was terrible.
My age played a huge factor, so it didn’t affect me as hard as younger cadets. It was the physical requirements that were killing me. My body was breaking down. My back ached constantly, my joints were unbearably painful, and my muscles cramped continually. My age had caught up with me.
Friday finally came and we left for the weekend.
I called Donna several times and she said she would return. I wouldn’t believe it until I actually saw her Sunday night at the study session.