This is the 4th installment in chronicling my journey into law enforcement. If you would like to read from the beginning, it is best to start with The Foundation.
The rest of Saturday would prove to be agonizingly long. I didn't get much sleep and Sunday didn't prove to be any better. Both nights at the hospital were extremely slow. This gave me more time for me to think about my situation, which wasn't exactly what I needed at the time. I spoke about it with a couple of the other security officers who had quite a bit of seniority and whom I have come to have a lot of respect for. It became apparent to me that if I skipped the training to go to the interview I would most certainly be suspended for a couple days and there was probably even a chance that I would be fired.
What would that do to my future or to my career path? Would I be able to explain to an oral board someday why I had been suspended? If I got fired it would be game over! There is no way a police department is going to hire you if you get fired from another job. At least not a job so recent in your work history, and in my case, there is no way I would be hired by a department if I was fired from a security job.
I had one last chance, I could call the department I was scheduled to interview with on Monday morning to explore any options of rescheduling the interview. Of course I already knew what their answer was going to be. Hundreds of people apply for these positions and every step in the process is designed to weed people out. They give you a time and place for everything, so if you can't make it there when they tell you to be, then you become another wannabe that gets washed out of the process. It wasn't like I could just switch times or even request the next day. I had training all week.
I called on Monday morning and talked to the secretary. "I'm sorry sir, but the Lieutenant that is handling the scheduling of these interviews is out of town until tomorrow. I can transfer you to his voice mail and you can leave a message if you like."
Well that really sucked! That meant I wasn't going to find out until the day before my scheduled interview. I didn't have a choice though, that would have to do.
"Good Morning Lt...this is Thomas Towers. I am scheduled for an interview Wednesday afternoon but I have ran into a little bit of a problem. I normally work nights so making the interview would never be an issue normally, however this week I am on days because we have this mandatory training that we have to attend. I tried to get the day off, but I have been told that is not going to be possible and it looks like if I miss the training that day, I could be suspended or fired. I wanted to talk to you to explore the possibilities of rescheduling my interview. If you could give me a call back I would really appreciate it. Thanks!"
Now I just had to go back into class and wait until tomorrow to find out what was going to happen. The training was actually really great training. This father and son who both used to work for the Secret Service started this company that goes all over the world and trains security professionals. They teach some of the material, but they have current and retired federal and local law enforcement officers to come in and teach some of the material as well. It really was top notch training. We learned about the laws of arrest from a security standpoint, public relations, interview techniques, patrol tactics, self defense tactics, crime scene photography, active shooter training, to name a few.
My mind was still doing flips. I would be dead set on skipping work and going to the interview if that's what it came down to, then 12 hours later I would change my mind. I started thinking about how long a person's career is and telling myself that I couldn't risk my long term career goals on one agency. One of my coworkers told me I needed to take emotions out of the situation and make a good choice that would ensure my long term success. I thought that was good advice and I knew he was right. I knew I had to go to be at the training.
I ran scenarios in the my head all night Monday and into Tuesday morning. I also talked to a number of close friends and family to get there advice. It wasn't until I talked on the phone with a close friend of mine that my strategy changed. I have a very close friend, and a life long mentor of mine really, who is a state trooper close to where I am from. I call him from time to time for advice on all kinds of things.
He delivered wisdom when I needed it the most and offered a suggestion I had not considered, "If it was me, I would go in one more time and talk to my supervisor and do everything I could to try to get out of that training. Offer to compromise in some way...anything. If I didn't get anywhere with that, then I would resign on the spot."
Woah! OK I didn't see that one coming and for the first few seconds I thought he was crazy. Then I was thinking, I wonder how bad not giving a two weeks noticed would be. Certainly I would be able to explain that to an oral board easier than a suspension or firing. I took this idea to several family members and friends and a police captain that I come to know really well while working for the PD in college. It was unanimous...this was my best option. I couldn't risk calling off and letting my supervisor decide my fate and I had to make that interview. I'm sure I fell asleep praying that night.
Tuesday came, the Lieutenant called me while I was in training and I had to step out of the room to take the call. Rude or not, I didn't care, I had more important things on my mind than how to write a report. I was right about the interview, it couldn't be rescheduled. The Lt. was very understanding of my situation though, and showed empathy which doesn't happen in these hiring processes very often.
The verdict was in. I would be quitting my job later that night because I knew there would be no negotiating. I felt like the rest of my day was pointless since I wouldn't be there anymore anyways, but I figured if I'm going to be losing my job I might as well stay and get a full days pay out of it before I walk out.
My supervisor was still working nights all week so I would have to wait until at least 2200 before I could talk to him. After work that afternoon, I went home and rounded up all my work uniforms, my badge, and ID cards and put them in a large garbage bag to take with me that night in my car. I sat down and typed up a resignation letter. For quitting my job without any notice, it was a damn good resignation letter. I still wanted to be professional. I thanked them for the opportunity to work for them and said I was blessed to have had the position. It was the truth, a lot of people in this country would have loved to have my job. No chance of being laid off, full time work, with an excellent full benefits package. I was blessed.
It was 2200, I loaded up my car and grabbed my letter and off to work I drove. I was blessed to have my job but that doesn't mean that I liked it. By this time I just wanted to quit without even trying to negotiate one last time to make up the training. I just wanted the weight off my chest and I wanted to make sure that I was in control of the situation and I felt like that only way I could do that was if I quit that very night.
I explained my situation again. "Sir, I have to make it to this interview. I really have a good feeling about this and I think I can beat out the other applicants, I really do. It's simple. If I do not go to this interview, I will not be able to wake up and live with myself next week knowing that I had such a great opportunity and I didn't even try."
It didn't matter to him it seemed. My resignation letter was in my pocket and the bag of uniforms was in my car. He didn't really give me any options. "Well, I think I am going to have to part ways tonight then." I said timidly. "What?" he questioned. I repeated myself again and then I started to get a response out of him. "You are quitting? You aren't even going to give a two weeks notice? Do you realize what you are doing ? You know that agency is going to call us for a reference and ask about you, as is every other agency you are in the process for. You are going to throw away a job, a job you already have, on something that is not guaranteed?"
It continued, but as you can see it sure made me second guess myself. Was I making the right choice here. I sure sounded young and dumb. Screw that! I had made up my mind and had support of those closest to me. Just then he gave me another option. You can come in tomorrow morning (the morning of the interview) and talk to the director. The director of our department has had a very successful law enforcement career. He retired from one of the most reputable agencies in the state and held the rank of Major just before retiring. How intimidating! I didn't want to come in the next morning. I just wanted to be done with this! I wanted to quit right then and never look back!
"If you don't at least come in tomorrow morning and talk to the director, you are shooting yourself in the foot!!" I caved under the pressure and I agreed to be there the next morning to talk to the director. I went home, walked in my girlfriend's apartment, still employed. I know I fell asleep praying again that night. Make something happen. Anything. I'm tired of trying to figure things out. I'm just going to go with it and hope that I am taken care of.
The next morning, this Wednesday, I went in to talk to the director. "Sir I am in a position to have to make one of the hardest decisions I have ever made." I explained. I told him the situation again to make sure he knew the details of how many positions were going to be filled and how many people were left in the process. "I understand how important this training is and I know you guys have gone to great lengths to pull this off. I am willing to meet you in the middle, make up any training that I were to miss, unpaid even."
Let's just say...my prayers were answered. He was allowing me to take time off to attend the interview under the agreement that I would have to make up the training next month when the next group goes through it in March. I was only trying to get out of the afternoon. Instead, he gave me the entire day and told me to go home and get my head right and be prepared for that interview.
I was going to the interview and still had my job! What a change of events!