Stealth or Lack Thereof

We get to work with a ton of awesome volunteers at my office, one of them in particular being a universal favorite among the staff. I’ll call him Roger.

Roger used to be a sheriff. He’s a real sweetheart, buys us lattes on Thursdays and is just so much fun to have around. Combine a great personality like that with the life experiences of being in law enforcement, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for story-telling.

Among my favorites is the story of an arrest he had to make in small town California. The scene of the arrest was a small farm house in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of winter, in the middle of the night. The snow came up to his waist, and he is probably 6’4″. I would not be visible in snow that high.

He was in the patrol car with his partner, and they were waiting for back-up. Because of the extreme weather, back-up was taking forever to get there. Meanwhile, they were freezing. They realized that they were faced with a choice: either sit in the car and freeze to death, or run the battery dead while they waited for their back-up to arrive, or get on with the arrest themselves.

They went for the third option.

The plan was for a surprise attack, with one of them coming in through the front door and the other taking the back door. Roger took the latter post. He struggled to be stealthy in the waist-deep snow, but he persevered in the darkness of the night. What he failed to take into account was the fact that they were at a farm house. Farm houses have farm animals. Unbeknownst to him, a horse had found him sneaking around the property. Apparently, the horse had a better handle on stealth than poor Roger, because in a flash he found its muzzle on his left shoulder as it let out a loud “SNORT.”

What would you do if a 1,000 lb horse suddenly apparated out of thin air, snorting on your shoulder in the dark?

Roger screamed, rifle still in hand, finger on the trigger. It’s a miracle he didn’t fire the shot, but that didn’t really matter because he screamed so loud he might as well have driven his patrol car into the driveway with the lights flashing and the sirens blaring. At this point, he figured the element of surprise had been lost. He could also hear a couple of German shepherd dogs barking ferociously at his partner at the front of the house, and he knew his partner would need him to back him up. He tried to get onto the back porch quickly so that he could bust through the door and just make the arrest already.

But again, he was in waist-deep snow. That affords a man about as much grace as a sumo wrestler wading through a kiddie pool of room temperature lard.

He managed to make it through the snow onto the back porch, covered in snow but in one piece. He bust through the door and got ready to read someone his rights…and then his glasses fogged up. So now he’s blinded by the fog on his glasses, but he would also be blind if he took them off. Out of options, he tried to proceed into the house, but because he was blind he didn’t see that there were about 20 people in the house, lying on the floor, hiding under tables, everywhere.

So he did what is natural for a man with long legs, discombobulated by the snorting horse, disoriented from struggling with the snow, blinded by the fogged up glasses: he tripped on a person on the floor.

Luckily, his partner had apparently kept it together. He made it through the dogs, got through the front door, and made the arrest.

He tells me that was when he decided to enter the administrative field of law enforcement. Today he maintains that his first love as a professional was the front desk.

Roger went on to become a success in business, eventually earning his Masters’ degree in American Literature and then becoming the Executive Director of a well-known non-profit organization. Today he volunteers at our office where he administers assistance to the needy, delivers food for our food bank, and organizes an annual transitional program for families coming out of homelessness. He also runs a resource center for local folks who are experiencing homelessness in Puyallup. He still buys us lattes every Thursday, and he has everyone’s order memorized. He has not tripped on anyone or anything for as long as I have known him.

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