This is the 9th installment in my Bad Luck Cadet Series.
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 finally felt better by Saturday night. My husband took me out to dinner and with the help of couple of 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 adviser had the short straw that week, and he was in the classroom ready to prepare us for the test. His name was Corporal Tsisonnee, pronounced Tis-on-knee. He was quiet and had not interacted much with the class. I needed advise, and decided to speak with him after we were 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. Corporal Tsisonnee told me it would be hard, and it would take a lot of heart.
There was that phrase again. Sgt. Spears from STPD had used it as well. Corporal Tsisonnee said he believed in me, and I could succeed if I truly wanted to. I left feeling better.
The following morning no one was looking at me. 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 (PT) 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 toe hold 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 pushups for each infraction I had. 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 forth highest score in the 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 all started chasing the birds. Sgt. Dickens then shouted we needed to be begging the birds to give us back the card.
We started begging loudly saying, “Here birdy birdy, give us back our ID card please.”
We ran across the field and through campus following those damned birds. The college kids 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 would 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 and he waited at the bottom of the hill. A young Cadet by the name of Rodriguez stayed behind as well. He told me he didn’t want me to do the hills alone, so 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, and had waited 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 didn’t have the breath to spare for any encouraging remarks. Fortunately, I didn’t have any food in my system to throw up or I would have. I did spit up some foul tasting liquid that I assume was bile.
Cadet Rodriguez told me he was struggling with the weekly classroom tests, and asked if I would tutor him. He said he would shine my shoes nightly if I was willing to help. So we made a deal.
That night after the run I went to Rodriguez’ room with notes and boots in hand. His roommates were busy shining their boots and said they wanted to participate as well.
My boots were passed around. As the weeks went by we fit about eight cadets nightly in that small room and I also had a study group at my breakfast table on Monday mornings before our tests.
The next day I began the pushup club. During every break I worked on my pushups. We added one pushup daily to the total we did at each break. I kept track of our totals for the entire day, week and month.
Including our morning punishment for inspection the Pushup Club did 843 pushups our first week. It started with just Rocco and me but we soon had about ten cadets joining us. I don’t think they needed to do the pushups but our efforts were being noticed by the Sergeant and advisors. Anything that made us look good was on the agenda, because we were told repeatedly we were pieces of shit and not fit to wear a badge.
We were finally given permission to wear our duty belts. We were also issued “blue guns” and told to 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. It was nice to wear our belts and not carry them everywhere.
By the end of the week my fellow cadets were treating 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 D!ckface D!ckless again. I will never call D!ckface D!ckless 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. But saying those words got me up those hills when I didn’t think I could make it.
Sgt. Dickens was right. He had made my life hell. But I had survived.
And I only had fifteen more weeks to go.
If you want to follow my adventures at the police academy from the beginning, start with Bad Luck Cadet #1 – Accidents Happen. It’s all about fun, laughter and pain. To be honest, at the time, it was more about pain, pain and pain! — Suzie
My story continues with: Bad Luck Cadet #10: I Have An Egg Head
Original version published at BAD LUCK DETECTIVE blog. Reposted, in full, with permission of the author.