Old & New

I was taking a short nap in the corner when Clocks burst into the break room. (His real name was Hoyt, but everyone in the precinct called him Clocks because he always wore two watches [“in case one dies,” he’d always say].) Clocks was balding, plump, and also a bit of a police buff, even after ten years on the job. But he always seemed like a kid because he was never ashamed of his enthusiasm.

“Guys,” he said breathlessly, “It’s here. It’s finally here.”

“What’s here, Clocks,” asked Stick, whose real name actually was Stick.

“The new RMP,” he cried. “I gotta tell the others!”

And in a blink he was gone and we could hear his heavy footsteps fading away in the direction of the locker room. The rest of us got up slowly, so as not to look too interested in the new arrival, even though we each knew how excited we all were. But we pretended not to care — not much, anyway. It was habit.

Twenty years later, I still remember the first time I saw that Radio Motor Patrol, that RMP, that cop car. Orange, blue, black, sleek. It made me feel proud — and it still does, even though I never did get to drive it. You see, everything on the job is doled out by seniority. By the time I had enough years to be first in line for a new RMP, this one was already too old for an old timer like me. We let the rookies have it.

(Old Slip & South St)