Revisiting the past can be a journey beset with great trials and tribulations and if you’re lucky, a little humour. The following tales are true, names are changed and locations are fuzzy.
WAYWARD CHICKENS. Night shifts in the police can be the most exciting time of ones career or depending on the day of the week coma inducing. Who you were partnered up with had a huge bearing, if it was a new sergeant, the nights were well-ordered until you got to know him/her. On several runs of night shifts I had the pleasure to work with a Senior Constable, who I’ll call Bluey. Now Bluey had a few kids and was always looking for ways to budget on the cheap. He had a house with a large yard, grew his own veges and fruit and best of all – had chickens.
My first midnight shift with him started with a, “Bloody hurry up, the trucks will be heading through soon.” Always one for a little action I thought, ‘You beauty, real action, police work.’ Into the car, speed through town and out onto the highway to the extent of our division. I pulled into the service station and waited. A few trucks went past, semi trailers, flat beds, I waited for the order, nothing. Then it came, a semi trailer jam-packed with cages of white chickens, ex laying hens on their way to the abattoir. He slapped me on the arm, “Come on get after it, before the next one arrives.” I sped off after the hens and kept a hundred metres behind. Then it happened, in a scene reminiscent of The Great Escape, two wonky legged hens forced their way out of their cage. Now there were about 8 or 9 to a cage and these two heroes made their dash for freedom. Remember the semi is doing a 100 kilometres an hour, the hens have spent the whole of their miserable lives cramped in a cage eating grain and pumping out eggs.
Hens are not aerodynamic. They were caught in the slipstream, wings outstretched, unexercised legs pumping wildly they fluttered to the highway like burst pillows. A police officer takes an oath, for the protection of life and property, we had to do everything within our power to save those hens. Bluey flicked on the blue lights and I pulled up on the roadside, luckily traffic was light and within a minute we had rounded up the hens and plonked them in the boot (trunk for my US readers). We followed the truck until it drove into the abattoir twenty minutes later, turned around and returned to our start off point. Let me add we kept an eye out for miscreants, that was those who weren’t stealing chickens. I also learnt that any following drivers who worked for the company were under instructions to run over any escapee hens they saw.
By 2 am we had 7 hens in the boot, and had received a couple of jobs to attend to, imagine turning up at someone’s home to investigate a prowler and all they can hear coming from your patrol car is a low, buc buc buc, bucaw and an incessant pecking. One kept a straight face and said, “Evidence from another job, we suspect fowl play.” But seriously we managed to drop 4 of the poor things at his house and didn’t have time to take the others to my parent’s place out-of-town. “Hmm, what to do with 3 cranky, overwrought, non aerodynamic hens? Simple put them in the bottom drawer of the police station receptionist’s desk.”
A quiet Monday morning, dawn breaks and two suspicious characters, bundles under their arms sneak quietly into the station. The duty sergeant is reading the morning paper and the coast is clear. With military precision and timing the felonious fowls are secreted amongst the stationary in the bottom drawer. The hardest part was getting all three heads to stay down at once, job done sneak back out and clean crap and feathers from boot.
Ahh, the bliss and joy of going to sleep in a cosy bed, when the rest of the world is working. The downside is being woken by a call from an overly excited, pregnant policewoman who had taken over from the secretary. She could forgive our boyish pranks and sense of humour, she thanked us for the hens (she took them home) but could never forgive us for the explosion of over excited, eye-popping, flying hens that crapped on the front of her uniform.
FREE CHOCOLATE BISCUITS. When vehicles hauling perishable goods are involved in accidents that involve spillage, said goods are written off and dumped. Another boring night shift and we decided to pull up and have a snooze. It was 4.30am only one job all night and it was our ninth straight shift. We were pooped. The idea, a good one at that was to park in bushland near a local quarry. One would kick back and have a sleep, the other would listen out on the radio, which had been turned up full blast. Yeah right. Our gentle snores were interrupted by, “For God’s sake come in ***, where are you?”
Ripping the mike off the dash I made funny squawking noises into the radio. The call was for a crash involving an Arnott’s biscuit truck, it had hit a power pole and brought power lines down. We arrived promptly (I loved the siren and blue light) to find the driver siting on the footpath, a scratch to his head and over a hundred cartons of chocolate Tim Tams spread over the road. Sacriledge, delicate wafer filled biscuits, covered in rich chocolate to be treated like rubbish. Being professionals we performed our duties, directed traffic, helped the driver etc etc, and worked an extra two hours. The driver promised that he’d see us right with a box of biscuits each. You beauty. Karma, the law of cause and effect kicked in, we turned up for work that evening expecting a lovely carton of bikkies. Pregnant policewoman was on shift and she smilingly informed us that the driver, true to his word had left some boxes of biscuits at the station, 20 to be exact.
“Well, where are they?” She returned from the break room with a packet each for us. “Sorry but once word got out, a car came from every station in the district. You have to spread the love you know.” One can’t complain, they were the freshest biscuits I’d ever eaten.