Snails are fast compared to…..

Shalom….

I trust all of you are well.  It has been a couple of weeks since my last post, and I apologize for that.  I had a Doctor’s appointment last week and I wanted to wait until that was over so I would have the latest to report.  Also, I’ve had to fire up the ole memory banks to find some other PG-13 stories to tell.  I’ve still got plenty, just not the PG-13 variety.  I think we are ok for a little while at least.

First… status…..

Overall… I’m doing well. Especially when you consider that seven weeks ago today was my last radiation and chemo treatment.  Add to that the issues with pneumonia, the flu and the staph infection I dealt with that same week and for two subsequent weeks.  Also, the havoc that radiation and chemo plays on your body and all the side effects that they cause.  So my chemo Dr says I’m doing well… my cancer dentist says I’m doing well… my radiation Dr says I’m doing well….. but the pace of recovery is DRIVING ME CRAZY!  I have to give the above speech to myself every day so I won’t get more frustrated at how slow this recovery process is.  As mentioned in the Post headline, snails are fast compared to this.  I know, I know… I have A LOT to be thankful for, and I am.  Trust me.  More than I let on.  But patience has never been one of my strong suits.  I’ve gotten better over the years (got to with kids) but this is probably one of the most frustrating things I have ever gone through.

So there are a few side effects I am still dealing with.  One is dry mouth. I’m reminded of playing high school football and practicing in August, in Mississippi, during two-a-days.  (practice twice a day)  The first practice wasn’t so bad.  It was in the morning when the weather was halfway decent.  The afternoon practice however… at least once a week, during lunch, you would see clouds forming and you just knew what that meant.  Sure enough, it would rain for about an hour and 30 minutes before practice was scheduled to start, the rain would stop, and the humidity would form and steam would come up out of the ground.  So here we were, in 98 degree heat, with 98% humidity, wearing full pads and practicing for a couple of hours.  This was also back in the day when the coaches were yelling at us to take our salt tablets.  This was also during the time when no one knew how unsafe dehydration was.  This is no lie… for a 3 hour practice, in that heat, we would have one water break that lasted about 10 minutes.  During that 10 minutes, the 40 of us on the team were battling each other over the ONE water hose for just 5 seconds of water.  Fun fun fun.  I can remember sucking the sweat out of my practice jersey just so there would be some kind of moisture in my mouth.  ( Don’t look at me like that….I wasn’t the only one.) Now today, if I’m talking on the phone or trying to eat, and I don’t have water with me, its almost as bad.  So apparently, this is a permanent condition and something that I will have to deal with the rest of my life.

The second thing I’m dealing with lately is dizziness.  You know how sometimes you get dizzy when you stand up too fast?  Well that is happening to me EVERY TIME I stand up and take a few steps.  This has been going on the past few weeks.  So I ask my chemo Dr about it and he says…. get this…. that it probably has something to do with old age.  WHAT??  Are you kidding me?  I know lots of people older than me that are not dealing with this.  I later check on the side effects of the pain medication I’m taking for my throat and you want to guess at one of the side effects listed?  Yes you?  CORRECT…. DIZZINESS.  Old age my foot.  I have an appointment with my cardiologist next week just to make sure.

I’ve got to take more precautions now… like move a little more slowly?  The other morning around 6am, I woke up and had to go to the bathroom really bad.  So I jumped out of bed and walked that 10 feet to the bathroom and was in the middle of the bathroom when the wave of dizziness came over me.  I reached out to grab onto something and there was nothing there so I promptly busted my rear in the middle of the bathroom.  Now folks, we have talked about my weight loss and as you can see, I have not said anything about gaining back all that weight, because I haven’t.  Plus, I wasn’t blessed with ample weight in my rear in the first place.  So when I lost weight, what I did have back there is long gone.  Let me tell you, falling/sitting down hard on a tile floor doesn’t feel so hot.  For the past few days I’ve had to sit leaning to one side.

Appetite/Weight .. my appetite is sloooowwwllllyyy returning.  I’m eating more things but my taste buds are still screwy.  An example is that ketchup is too spicy for me right now.  Also, what is delicious one day, I can’t stand a week later.  In talking with others, this could go on for a year.  Oh joy.  But like I said, I am eating more things but in the last few weeks, I have gained a total of one pound.  I am now a strapping 156 lbs!  That is about what I weighed when I graduated college 28 years ago.  So I officially lost 34 lbs and have gained one back.  I am well on my way!

That is about it as far as my status goes.  I still have some other side effect issues such as fatigue and the occasional low grade fever but am coping with them.  I was seeing my Dr for a check up once a week… then it went to every 2-3 weeks…now my next appt is in 6 weeks.  Between now and then I will begin weaning myself off methadone as my throat lessens in pain.  And now…

UNRELATED STORY TIME

This is the time in the blog where I relate some story from my past that has absolutely nothing to do with cancer or my physical well being.  The blog started out as a way to keep friends and family informed of what was going on and the added stories were a way for me to keep my sanity during treatment.  Now, most of the comments I hear have nothing to do with my well being, but rather they ask me when i am going to tell another story!

This story is one of the few that instead of coming from my experiences, this was told to me.  But it is such a funny story that I wanted to share.

One day I showed up to court to testify against someone I arrested while i was with the Dallas Police Department.  When police officers show up to court, they hang out in a small room that also serves as the prosecutors temporary office.  There is not much to do there and unless you bring a book, you are usually bored out of your mind.  So you do the next best thing and start sharing “war stories” with whomever else is there.  This particular day, the prosecutors investigator was there along with my partner.  This Investigator assists the prosecutor by tracking down leads, finding witnesses, etc.  Usually, they are retired police officers and that was the case on this day.  He retired from DPD after 25 years and started working for the DA’s office.  This Investigator had to be close to 70 years old.  So my partner and I were talking about a possible internal investigation and how another officer had to “write a letter”.  In Dallas Police procedures, if something occurs where it “might” turn into an Internal Affairs official investigation, an officer is told to “write a letter”.  This letter is meant for the officer to tell his side of the story and explain what happened.  Once the officer writes the letter, the supervisor reviews it and determines if there is cause to call Internal Affairs and start an official internal investigation.  Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes it depends on how well the letter is written.  I forgot the circumstances of me and my partners story but we agreed the officer involved wrote a good letter.  The Investigator was doing paperwork during this story and turned around and said… “You guys think that was a good letter?  I’ll tell you a story about the best letter I’ve ever heard of.”  He then proceeded to tell us about an officer in the 1970′s who was a royal screw up.  Let’s just call him “Jimmy”.  It seems that Jimmy was always fighting the system and was a pain in the rear for his supervisor.  He was always saying something or doing something to get in trouble and the supervisor (Sergeant) was always having to respond to what Jimmy did and the Sgt was frankly getting tired of being dragged into Jimmy’s mess.  So after one incident, the Sgt took Jimmy off the street and assigned him to front desk duty.  Well Jimmy thought he had died and gone to heaven because he had the opportunity to interact with all the other officers as well as the general public that came through the door.  And he intentionally messed with the civilians just to torque off his Sgt.  Sure enough, civilians started complained about the smart aleck at the front desk.  The Sgt was fed up with Jimmy and decided to do all he could to make Jimmy’s live miserable so assigned him the the garage on the deep night shift (12M – 8am).  Now officers didn’t have to work the garage when I was there but this Investigator told us that for each shift, there had to be at least one sworn police officer at the garage where all city vehicles were gassed up.  Why?  No idea but it was the assignment that no one wanted.  So the Sgt assigned Jimmy there and was quite pleased with himself when he began hearing other officers talk about how Jimmy was having fun and was bragging at how much sleep he was getting at the garage with no one, including the Sgt, there to watch him.  Well this just really torqued the Sgt even more and he vowed to get Jimmy once and for all.  The Sgt couldn’t get Jimmy fired for smart aleck comments made to citizens but asleep on duty?  This was the Sgt’s chance to at least get Jimmy suspended, if not fired.   So one night, about 4AM, the Sgt grabbed another officer (witness) and went to the garage and sure enough, there was Jimmy asleep in a chair at the desk.  The Sgt was overjoyed.  He had Jimmy and he even had a witness!  So he woke Jimmy up, relieved him of his duty weapon, and told him to report to Internal Affairs at 8am.

At 8AM Jimmy walked into the Internal Affairs office.  In attendance was the Sgt and he had a letter from the other officer about what he saw. The Sgt had already written his letter and was smacking his lips.  There was no way for Jimmy to weasel his way out of this one.

The Internal Affairs Detective had been there many years and knew this was more about a personal vendetta than an actual issue but if the officer was sleeping on duty, then he was going to get in trouble.  So the IA Detective handed Jimmy a pad and pen and said, “I need you to write me a letter about the events that occurred a few hours ago at the garage.”  Jimmy took the pad and pen and began writing.  After 2o minutes, he handed the pad of paper to the IA Detective with a smirk on his face.  The IA Detective read the letter and hid a smile and told the Sgt, “I see no reason for a formal investigation and let me be the first to congratulate you.”  The Sgt couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  ”WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO INVESTIGATION?”

The letter said…..”To whom it may concern.  At approximately 4am on such and such date, Officer Jimmy Doe was working the garage at (address) when he was overcome by the noxious fumes from the vehicles at the garage and subsequently passed out.  If it was not for the brave and heroic efforts of Sgt Blank, who revived Officer Jimmy, then Officer Jimmy surely would have died.  Therefore, it is with great honor that Officer Jimmy nominate Sgt Blank for a Life Saving Award for his actions.”  Sincerely, Officer Jimmy Doe.”

The IA Detective (later the DA Investigator) said he couldn’t be sure but he swore that the Sgt had to stifle a tear while turning blue in the face.

(S)Not here anymore….

Bonjour,

I hope this post finds all of you well.  I don’t have much to report but I’ve found out that if I don’t report in every 5-6 days, then I start getting emails from you asking where the latest story is.  The heck with my physical being.  :-)  I think I have created a monster.

Real quick on my health… (like you care….)

I believe I’ve finally turned the corner.  In my last post or two, I think I said how frustrated I was because I didn’t see any changes.  Well, I believe I can now.  First off, I believe the mucous has finally moved on.  (Note the title of the post…. get it?)  This is great news for me because #1, I’m not hacking up that crud and sounding all gross… #2, I feel better… #3, It is allowing me to eat more, such as milk based products.  I haven’t tried them yet but this means chocolate shakes, which means weight gain.  Yay!  So very glad the mucous has left the building!

Secondly, my appetite is slowly returning.  I am able to eat different things now.  My taste buds are still out of whack, however.  I am very sensitive to spicy things.  Now I wasn’t exactly what you would call an adventuresome eater before all of this.  I’m not into very spicy things.  But when ketchup is too spicy, something is out of whack.  But, I’ll take what I am given, and right now I am able to eat different things instead of oatmeal for every meal.

With my appetite returning, however, I still have to chew up my food into very small bites so I don’t strain my throat, which is still hurting somewhat.  So if you have dinner with me, it is going to take awhile.

So that is the good news…. mucous is gone and appetite is returning.  Bad news??  As I just mentioned, my throat still hurts somewhat.  Also, as I am beginning to feel better, I am getting back to my usual level of talking, which as most of you know, is quite a lot.  I am finding out, however, that when I do talk at length, I develop a bad case of cotton-mouth. My mouth gets incredibly dry.  This happens when I eat as well.  I’m not sure if my saliva glands are damaged or destroyed by the radiation.  That is one thing I am going to ask the Dr when I see him next week.  But yes, dry mouth is an issue.

I went to the gym for the first time in quite awhile.  I wasn’t going to do anything stupid like use the same workout routine I am used to.  I was going to take it nice and slow.  So I spent about 5 minutes on the elliptical, did one set on the leg press with only 100 lbs, one set with bench press (machine, not free weights) with only 65 lbs and a set each on lat pulldown and overhead press.  The whole workout lasted less than 15 minutes and I didn’t even break a sweat.  However, it just about killed me.  My muscles were screaming at me and I was very wobbly when I was leaving the gym.  Due to all the people in the lobby, I had to straighten up and act like nothing was wrong but Holy Cow was I fatigued! I went again two days later and did the same workout and it was a little better.  It is going to take longer than I thought to get back into shape.

Special shout out to a friend of mine that is going through a tougher time than I did, Mark Spinney.  Hang in there Mark!  Our thoughts and prayers are with you!

Also wanted to thank MK!  Thank you.

Ok… I think that is about all the recap I have.  Things are slowly getting better.  As mentioned, I go see my Chemo Dr next week and we will evaluate the pain medication I am on and probably start to scale back.  Other than that, I will continue to try and gain weight as I am still down 30 lbs.  I had to break down and go buy some clothes last week.  I was wearing a pair of my old pants and they slid off my waist…and they were buttoned at the time!   My plan is not to gain the whole 30 lbs back.  Probably more like 20 and evaluate then.  I’m just hoping with all the food I WANT to eat, I am able to stop.

 

Alrighty… enough about me.  I’m sure you have skipped to this point anyway….

UNRELATED STORY TIME

To supplement their income, police officers work off duty jobs, known as “extra jobs” or “moonlight” jobs.  They vary from sitting in a rich guy’s driveway 24/7 to sitting in a squad car on a highway while highway workers pave a new road, to standing in a parking lot at a bar.  Dallas prohibits officers from working INSIDE the bar so in that particular job, you stand outside and make sure cars aren’t broken into and your presence is sometimes a deterrent to bad things happening.  Of course, if something bad happens inside the bar, you can go in to quell that disturbance, but for the most part, you stay outside.

This particular story deals with me working such a job with another officer named Charlie.  First, a few words about Charlie.  Charlie was born in Hawaii to Japanese parents.  Obviously oriental in looks but no accent whatsoever.  One of the funniest guys I know.  I met Charlie when I was drafted to dispatch.  Charlie worked down there at the time and was my trainer.  (Yes, I was drafted to dispatch when I had about 2 years on)  Charlie trained me my first week and we became good friends.  I learned, however, that Charlie is one sneaky SOB.    While in dispatch, which is in the basement of City Hall, with no windows, you go a little stir crazy and a little bored.  You would usually dispatch for one hour with a 30 minute break…normally.  Sometimes, if it was busy and people were off, you might work for two hours straight with only 30 minutes off.  Believe me, sitting in front of a console dispatching calls and keeping up with everyone is nerve wracking and stressful.  Especially if something happens to the officers you are dispatching to.  If an officer calls for cover or needs assistance, it is your job to dispatch the appropriate people while making sure all the other things are being taken care of.  And when you only have two years on the department, and full of piss and vinegar, and want to be out there helping but you are stuck in the basement, it is very nerve wracking.  Charlie showed me ways to release stress.

A dispatcher sits in front of his/her console and has a printer to their side.  On this printer, calls that needed to be dispatched would print up.  They would also appear on the computer screen in front of them.  The dispatcher would see what cars were available, call that particular car or “Element” and give them that call.  Each Element had a slot in the console and the Dispatcher would tear off the piece of paper and stick it in the Elements slot and enter it into the computer.  That way, there was a manual record (piece of paper in the slot) and it was also entered into the computer.

If you wanted to find out all the stolen cars in the City of Dallas, you would pull up a “hot sheet”.  This Hot sheet showed all the cars currently reported stolen.  On any given day, there was usually at least 300 cars listed.  Now as you can imagine, it takes awhile for this Hot Sheet to print up, especially on the dot matrix printers we were using at that time.

If someone pissed off Charlie, or if he wanted to just mess with them, while sitting at his console, he would route a Hot Sheet to the other Dispatchers printer.  (Not many people knew how to do that).  So this particular Dispatcher is trying to keep things organized and put the right calls in the right slots but all of the sudden, his printer starts going haywire and prints up this Hot Sheet, which takes a long time to finish.  Meanwhile, calls are still popping up on this Dispatchers computer screen but he has to wait for the Hot Sheet to finish before he can manually assign them.  It is very frustrating for that dispatcher.  Invariably, they would blame Charlie, because he was just the sort of person to do that and had the knowledge of how to do that…but here is the genius of Charlie…. to deflect the accusation from him… he would send a Hot Sheet to his own printer as well.  So when someone accused him, he would respond….”It wasn’t me!  Whoever sent it to you, also sent it to me!”  And they would immediately scratch Charlie from their list of suspects and think someone else did it.
Like I said… Charlie was sneaky.

So one night, Charlie and I are working in this parking lot of this bar for young people in Dallas.  All of the sudden, the front doors of the bar flung open and people began spilling out.  We grabbed a couple of the people and asked what was going on and it seemed that a fight had broken out inside and people were trying to get away.  One guy came out holding a napkin to his lip.  We asked him if he was ok and he responded that he was and everything was fine and continued on his way.

Meanwhile, unknown to us, when people came out of the bar, a couple of them went to the street just when a squad car was passing and they flagged down the car and told the officers in the car that there was a fight.  So the officers in the car stopped and got out of the car and approached the bar.

Charlie and I are standing in front of the bar with the Manager trying to piece together what happened, because everything had died down by now, when these two officers approached us.  As we talked later, neither Charlie nor I knew these two officers as they worked the Northeast station.  Also, as we found out later, one of the officers was a Field Training Officer (FTO) and he had his rookie with him.  I forgot the FTO’s name but lets just call him Corporal Frank Jerk.

So Cpl Jerk and his rookie walked up to us, standing there with the Manager, and Cpl Jerk pulled out his nightstick(!) and crossed his arms and said…. “I want to know what the #$%@# is going on here!!”  I think Charlie and I were both too surprised at his actions and his language to be offended at that time but we said, “Well it looks like a fight broke out inside but its over now and…”

Cpl Jerk unfolded his arms and took his nightstick and started tapping Charlie on the chest (Charlie is in uniform!) and said…. “If you can’t handle your @#$%# mess then you need to get the ##$%# out of here!  C’mon Rookie…lets get out of here!” And with that, he strutted off with his rookie.

Charlie and I stood there dumbfounded. Finally the Manager of the bar said, “Do you know that guy?  Is he really a police officer?”  We didn’t know him but as we talked later, we were going to find out.  We were just too shocked at what he did to do anything.  No one does that !  Especially to another officer!

So I didn’t see Charlie that week but the week rolls by and we are now working the bar again.  As we were talking, I mentioned something about how I hope that Cpl Jerk shows up again and how I was going to give him a piece of my mind.   Charlie just grinned.  Knowing Charlie and how he is, I asked what he did…. and oh boy….did he do something.

There is a particular area in Dallas called Oak Lawn.  It is known as the gay area of town.  Lots of gay bars and it is where a lot of the gays live.  So Charlie goes there and goes to a gay book store to the magazine rack.  He takes the “Subscribe – Please Bill me Later” card out of over 20 gay publications and writes Cpl Jerk’s name on them and uses the Dallas Police Northeast Substation address and mails them off.  He also goes by the Dallas Gay Alliance and signs up Cpl Jerk as a member, pays his dues!  and enters him in all sorts of activities such as the fun run and Halloween parade.

When Charlie was done telling me, I wanted to give him the slow clap of appreciation. I was impressed.  It was typical Charlie…. a way to get revenge and there is no way that Cpl Jerk would ever know who did it to him.  It was ingenious and sneaky and I told Charlie so.

He said…. “Well you know how us Japanese are.”

Progress…

Guten Tag,

I hope all of you are doing well.

My phone and email have erupted today so I wanted to share what I have found out from the doctor.   First…… it is all good.  I have a rather lengthy explanation but I wanted to share that from the outset so you won’t be screaming at me while you are reading this…. well…no more than you usually do.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I was scheduled for a CT scan this morning.  The CT scan (computed tomography) (Or CAT Scan…computed axial tomography) is a general scan of a particular area of the body.  It uses computer processed x-rays to produce tomographic images or “slices” of the body.  It is used to detect any abnormal growth in the body, like a tumor.  Mine came back fine.

I was wrong…(as I am most often)…. in assuming that I would get some sort of definitive declaration of the status of my cancer.  That was not the case.  It is not some “pass/fail” or “good/bad”.  I did not get that report today.  However, my radiation Dr.  (Dr. Mendenhall) said that as far as he is concerned, that I am clear of cancer.  There is a 10-15% chance that it will recur or come back.  The CT and PET (more about those later) scans are to check to see if the cancer is thinking about coming back.

After one year of nothing on the scans, then there is a 70% chance it won’t come back at all.  After a clean bill of health for two years, there is a 90% chance it won’t come back and after three years, it goes up to almost 100%.    So I’m one month post-treatment so I’ve got a looonnnnggg way to go.  BUT… everything looks good so far.  In two months, I will get a PET Scan.  PET (Positron Emission Tomography) is a super-duper CT scan.  (I know I have Dr friends of mine just cringing at my attempt to explain these terms.)  A PET Scan is able to detect things that a CT scan cannot.   I will have either a CT scan or a PET scan every 2-3 months for awhile.  My next PET scan is scheduled for the 2nd week in July.

Bottom line is…… I received the best news I could have received today.  Everything looks good…. on schedule…. side effects starting to slowly dissipate….. now I just need to start gaining weight.

 

UNRELATED STORY TIME

I’m tired and after they stuck a tube up my nose and down my throat today, not feeling my best but…. since last time I did not tell a story, I can’t let another opportunity go by without sharing something.

Two related stories…

This past week, they dedicated the Presidential Library for George W. Bush (43) in Dallas, TX (or rather at SMU).  There were five living Presidents in attendance.  As you can imagine, the Secret Service was a little busy during that time, especially in Dallas, TX.  (Sheesh…you lose one President and you are branded for life).

In honor of these Presidential stories, here are a few pictures of me  rubbing elbows.  I had one of me and Barbara Bush but don’t know what happened to it and I talked with Condalezza Rice for 20 min one day without knowing who she was and never got a picture.

Anyway, here you go….

41

 

VP Cheney

 

First Lady Laura Bush

The role of the Dallas SWAT team during a VIP visit is to augment the Secret Service and provide the 2nd layer of security.  The Secret Service has the first and most immediate layer and Dallas SWAT is right behind them.  It’s not all that glamorous.  When the President is asleep on say the 43rd floor of the Anatole Hotel, there is a member of the Dallas SWAT team in the stairwell on the 42nd floor.  Just you and a chair… at 3am.  You usually work 2-3 hours on with a 30-60 minute break.  LOTS of fun.  The Secret Service usually rents a room that we use for the “Down Room”.  This is where officers go when they are on break.  They can go to the bathroom, take a quick nap, or watch TV.  They used to put on Pay-per-view movies (NO….not those kind) 24/7 on the TV for the officers on break to watch.  One morning, after working all night, I was sprawled out on the couch trying to stay awake.  We were in our last 30 minutes of working and pretty soon, the day shift would come in and relieve us.  At this time, we were guarding Mrs. Barbara Bush (who has to be the sweetest lady ever) and she was First Lady at this time.  So I’m sprawled out and one of the Naked Gun movies had just started.  These movies are the hilarious ones with Leslie Nielsen as Lt. Frank Drebbin.  In this particular movie, Lt. Drebbin is at the White House and through a series of accidents, he slams the door on the (look-alike) Mrs. Bush, pulls the chair out from under her and hits her with a lobster tail.  Well this part is about to start when I hear a commotion and sit up and the Secret Service has brought Mrs. Bush into the room!  I’m scrambling trying to look somewhat presentable when she came over and patted me on the shoulder and told me not to worry about it.  One of the agents said, “Mrs Bush, the part is coming up.” and she started watching the movie where “She” gets knocked around and she starts laughing out loud and before it is over, she is holding her stomach laughing very hard.  When it was over, she turned to us and said, “I’ve heard about this movie and wanted to see it but there just hasn’t been the time.  I appreciate you letting me watch it with you.” and with that, she left for her First Lady duties of the day.  It’s not every day when you get to watch a movie with the First Lady.

That actually is not the story I was going to share.  I was going to tell the one about when Roger Clinton, half brother to Bill, was getting married in Dallas at the Arboretum and this was 6 months into office for President Clinton.  Of course had and Hillary went to the wedding.  I could tell you about how the groomsmen sang the Univ of Arkansas Alma Mater to the bride, who was 9 months pregnant, and after singing, serenaded her with “SOOEY PIG!”.

One part of this trip I will share… on Saturday night, at the wedding, President Clinton decides that he is changing his schedule and instead of flying out, he is going to stay in Dallas for an extra day so he can go watch the Univ of Arkansas play in the Sweet 16, NCAA Basketball game , that happened to be in Dallas the next day.  Now ANY change to the President’s schedule is a major issue.  If the President is coming to Dallas, planners come in two weeks before to start planning the trip.  If the President stays somewhere an hour past what was planned, this is a major issue and things have to be moved around.  Now you are talking about a whole day???  PLUS… he wants to go to a major sporting event!!!  So the Secret Service is NOT happy at all.  They start ferrying in metal detectors for all the exits at the game overnight, people to operate those detectors, halt travel plans for all the agents there and postpone whatever was planned for that Sunday…. major upheaval.  Big time.

So we work the wedding until midnight and we turn around and are at the Dallas arena at 7am.  There must have been 300 of us in this room with police from all over including the Secret Service.  Everyone is grouchy, especially the Secret Service.  Well the one guy they had in charge was especially grouchy.  I’m going to guess, however, that he was about to retire anyway based on what he said next….

So all 300 or so of us get quiet and he begins…. “My name is Agent “Joe Smith (or whatever) of the Secret Circus!”  We all start chuckling and then when we quieten down… he says… “I say I am in the Secret Circus because we work for such a #$%!  Clown!”

A hush fell over the crowd and we all begin looking nervously at each other before the other agents started busting out laughing, quickly joined by the rest of us.  We never found out how long he stayed an agent after that.

 

SECOND STORY

This one also involves President Clinton.  I don’t mean to pick on him but ….

So there was some event in Dallas where both President Clinton and Vice President Gore are coming to Dallas.  The planners had come in two weeks prior and the plan was for them to fly in and arrive 45 minutes apart.  Once landed, one motorcade would take President Clinton to the location and 45 minutes later, when VP Gore landed, a different motorcade would take him to the same location.

As stated before, Dallas SWAT augments the Secret Service.  The Secret Service are the ones surrounding the VIP.  The locals, (us) would have one squad of eight in charge of the motorcade.  Depending on the size of the location to be visited, a squad or two would be handling security for that.  (All access points, external perimeter and internal security).  We could be stretched very thin if the location happened to be a school.   And if they were going to stay overnight, a squad would be at the hotel, etc.  A VIP visit takes up a lot of manpower.

So my job is the driver of the lead car for the Presidential motorcade. The Presidential motorcade can be up to 50 cars in length but usually around 25-30.  This includes Dallas squad cars, the limos, the ambulance, the Secret Service, the staff, and the media.  It’s a big to-do.  When the Presidential motorcade gets going, the motorcycle officers (motor-jocks) block all intersections on the primary route and you don’t stop for anything.  It is pretty cool.  As the driver for the lead car, you have the lead Secret Service Agent in the car with you along with the Agent that planned the route.  As the driver, you also have to know the secondary route as well as the route to the hospitals.   A car or two behind you is the President so you better not screw it up.

The Vice Presidential motorcade is roughly the same, just less cars.

If the First Lady came into town, her motorcade would only be about 3-4 cars and you would stop for redlights and such.

So here we are, waiting on the President to land so we can whisk him away to his speaking location.  The VP motorcade officers are also there waiting for VP Gore to arrive, 45 minutes later, so they can take him to the same place.  So we are waiting and waiting and the President is late.  I’m not saying this with any political undertones whatsoever but President Clinton was always late.  Every time he came to Dallas, he was late for something.  President Bush (either 41 or 43) on the other hand, always on time.  One time I was the lead driver for President Bush (43) and if they said the motorcade left at noon, you better be buckled in at 11:59.  Sure enough, noon hit and we heard that Bush’s Chief of Staff wasn’t in the car yet and apparently Pres Bush said to leave him.  The Chief of Staff had to ride with the media.  I don’t think he was late anymore.

So I digress…..here we are waiting on Pres Clinton to arrive when VP Gore’s plane comes in first.  VP Gore was on time.  So he lands and about 10 minutes later, almost an hour late, Pres Clinton’s plane lands.  Now we are already an hour behind schedule when they decide to talk.  So VP Gore gets on Pres Clinton’s plane and they talk and talk and talk.  I don’t know why but I’m getting antsy because we are so late when the Secret Service Agent tells me to relax, they are used to it.

After waiting approximately 90 minutes, the Agent is speaking into his earpiece and I hear him say, “WHAT???”  He storms off and after a few minutes he comes back and says, “LETS GO!”  So I get in the car and crank it up and we are getting ready to go when Pres Clinton AND VP Gore get off the plane and THEY BOTH GET INTO THE SAME LIMO.  The one right behind me!  Let me spell that out for you again…..THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BOTH GET INTO THE SAME LIMOUSINE …..IN DALLAS, TEXAS.

The lead Secret Service Agent slams his notebook on my dashboard and gets in the car and is cussing up a storm.  He is muttering….”No, don’t listen to me…I’ve only been doing this crap for 20 years… I don’t know anything about security…. I’m sure its fine for the President and Vice President to ride in the same car… in the only city where a President has been killed…I’m sure that is fine…..”

He turns to me and says, “No offense”.  And I am trying not to laugh and say…”None taken.”  Then as we are going down the North Dallas Tollway, he looks up at an overpass and says, “We are one rocket launcher away from Newt Gingrich being President right now!”

Well obviously, nothing of consequence happened but there are plenty of stories like that.  If I get back on the Presidential kick, I’ll share some more.