I haven't talked about Big Al in a long time; not since this post anyway. I did promise more stories about him so I'll tell this one.
Our tiny little department only had 2 officers to a shift back in the days when I first started working there. Everybody pretty much knew everybody else and the regulars (constant complainers), we knew their names, addresses and phone numbers all by heart. The restaurant and diner owners, as well as bar owners were on the same first name basis. Think Mayberry.
We had a restaurant at that time that served the best fish in the world....as well as the best deep fried onion rings. On Friday nights Howie (the owner) who was also the cook, knew that we would be making a fish run. We'd call in the order and then the patrol car would slip around to the back kitchen door of the place and Howie would hand out the fish dinners. We didn't get them free....we had to pay like everyone else, but I'm sure he gave us an extra helping since we couldn't avail ourselves to the "all you can eat" policy.
Big Al would make the fish run and come back with the fish and onion rings along with the best tartar sauce you've ever had. We would chow down at the station, getting ourselves fueled up for the Friday night rush that would start around 9 pm and continue until 4 in the morning. The usual drunken brawls and domestic disturbances always kept us busy.
Big Al went to check out a call of a suspicious vehicle that was sitting in a field not too far off the roadway. When he looked inside he was shocked to see a priest in full dress. Not only that but the good "Father" was inebriated enough that he had trouble walking. Big Al had never come across this before and didn't exactly know how to handle it. Since the vehicle was stopped, not running and off the roadway, he really couldn't be arrested for drunk driving, even though we knew he had driven there. Big Al also knew that the Chief (his boss) was Catholic so he decided to just lock up the car and bring the Father into the station. I was a bit surprised to see him walking in with a priest....not just any priest but one that looked like he stepped straight out of Boy's Town. He even had the Irish accent and gray hair. The Chief made a special trip into work and they went back into his office. After a while another priest arrived and took the good Father home. No tickets were ever issued and Big Al said that was his "Get out of hell free" card, but I suspect the Chief may pull rank on him.
Big Al's partner, who reminded us of Barney on Mayberry, had some fears. He feared all birds, for example. He especially feared chickens. They decided to play a trick on him one day and got a live chicken from somebody and tied string to its leg and put it in Barney's locker just a bit before he was due to come on duty. When Barney came in, we all held our breath as he opened his locker and the chicken came flying out. Poor Barney....he jumped about 3 feet in the air and honestly danced around the room like he was on fire, his eyes as big as saucers. The chicken was equally scared I'm sure. I'm also positive that ordeal aged Barney at least 10 years.
Yep, you had to have a sense of humor to work at this place. I also had stuff hidden in my desk drawers while there, but those stories can be for another time. Our little town has grown and its no longer like Mayberry and I miss that. People who live in those small towns may sometimes feel like the world is passing them by, but they are so very lucky to be living life at a slower pace. I'm glad I had the chance to experience it.