"Yeah. Fun for YOU, maybe."
We all arrived way early for the orientation. We lingered in the parking lot like unwelcome guests for about 20 minutes before going inside all together. We found our seats and twiddled our thumbs for what felt like 20 minutes longer while we waited for the tactical staff to take the stage.
The tac officers marched in, single-file, in the uniforms of the agencies they work for. They were an impressive bunch who commanded instant respect. The captain read to us of each man's accomplishments; many had been given medals of bravery.
Then each recruit had the opportunity to introduce himself and his family. I was surprised: most of the recruits are not sponsored by any agency. These men have sponsored themselves (and it costs around $6,000 just for tuition I'm told) so that they can get the POST certificate and have a better shot at employment. There are much easier academies they could have enrolled in but they wanted this one, and I applaud them and their families for dedicating themselves to this. I hope that it yields a bounty of opportunities after graduation.
The recruits were all nervous as they introduced themselves. The first guy addressed the captain (a female) as "Sir" and got a chilly "Excuse me?" from her in response.
Let the games begin.
After each recruit and his family was introduced to us, the tac staff showed us a video and then talked to us a bit about the recruits' nutritional needs. Then the recruits went into another room where they were yelled at for not sounding off loudly enough in their introductions. They were given instructions to fill out a form and anyone who had questions was picked on by the tac officers. JT said he was expecting the onslaught and was fully prepared for it. He actually didn't get yelled at a whole lot. The foreign guy in his class who is still learning English--well, JT's glad not to be him right now.
Meanwhile, the wives, girlfriends and parents were in the auditorium with a recent academy graduate and his wife who told us about their experiences and shared some valuable advice. Some of the things I learned:
- Wash fruits and vegetables and pack them into snack bags at the beginning of each week.
- Overpack his lunch--and remind him to eat a breakfast!
- Buy a gun safe.
- Meal time is family time--other than that, don't expect to see much of him.
- JT will have a minimum of seven reports to write per day--even on weekends.
- Weekends may be busy for him, with study groups and charity runs, etc., so be flexible and understanding.
- Have a support person--I am the support person for JT. But who is there for me when I need support? My parents, my friends, and my readers. :)
- Under NO circumstances am I to burden JT with my feelings, worries, complaints, problems, etc. That's what my support person is for.
But when JT and the recruits were separated from the rest, they were given a very different message:
"You're gonna hear a lot of people telling you not to give up. Don't listen to them. Walk away. Now. You're not ready for this. Get out of here and don't come back."
One guy actually got up to leave. "Sit your ass down," they said.
After that, it was a little clearer to the class which of these contradictory messages they were supposed to listen to.
They picked on that guy a lot tonight, apparently. They said he had no "command presence." It sounds like you're supposed to yell when they yell, but at all times you're supposed to have a kind of quiet power and control. Fortunately, JT's jail experience has prepared him well for this particular expectation.
Anyway, I'm feeling a bit better about the academy now and all the work that will be expected of me. It's the same thing that's expected of all the other wives. Is it crazy? Demanding? Hell yes. But what JT has to go through will be far more excruciating for sure. It's only six months of our lives. Only six months of staying up until midnight. I do want to be as supportive as I can be. It's important to both of our lives that he passes and has a successful law enforcement career.