After listening to an airline pilot friend of mine tell me a funny story about somebody screwing up at his work, I mentioned that the average person might not find anything humorous about mistakes at the airport.
He rolled his eyes. People screw up, he said. Deal with it.
Then he looked at me and asked if I had had any malfunctions at the police department. Me? No way, I said, as the temperature in the coffee shop rose a few degrees (or was it just me?).
So instead I told him a brief story about a…friend of mine. It took place many years ago in a city far away from the one that currently signs my paycheck and involved a young and eager kid, fresh out of the academy. As was fairly common for rookies, he had developed an unholy crush on his police gear. This kid liked everything on his belt–the flashlight and handcuffs, the nightstick and radio, the speed-loaders and revolver.
Remember I said this was a long time ago, right?
Anyway, this kid was extremely excited because his department was just switching from the revolver to the latest high-tech metal/plastic semi-auto pistol. In one swift exchange, the total rounds available to this rookie cop went from eighteen (revolver + speed-loaders) to fifty-two (new pistol + magazines). You would think that tripling the capacity of one of your tools overnight would be enough, but not for this rookie. This kid had already heard about a gizmo called the “magazine extender,” an add-on to the bottom of a magazine that upped the capacity by a couple rounds or more. Before thinking it through (big shock) he rushed out to get one.
Despite having the manual dexterity of a plant, the rookie installed the extender himself and proudly strapped his belt on for work the next day. As luck–or Murphy’s Law–would have it, there was an immediate opportunity to handle his new, home-improved firearm when a bank alarm alerted the dispatch center. The rookie answered up on the radio and drove to the bank. Then he jumped out to find cover and yanked his new pistol from the holster.
You can probably see what’s coming.
In a motion similar to a cork flying out of a champagne bottle just tossed around inside a paint shaker, the poorly installed magazine extender popped off the end and nineteen heretofore compacted bullets spewed from the magazine like pigeons out of a cage.
I’ll say this much for the rookie, he didn’t waste time crying over spilled rounds (though he did have a brief thought for his simple revolver now resting quietly in his locker). He went back to his car, grabbed the shotgun off the rack and returned to his post.
That’s a good story, my buddy said. Did you get in trouble?
Well, I–wait, I told you that was a friend of mine.