Food Follies

Five Guys is hiring!
Several employees were fired after they refused to serve some police officers in Alabama. The cops complained and the company fired the employees.

This is not a new phenomena. Cops and restaurants have gone round and round forever. Why would anybody want to eat, or order a cake from a food establishment that has expressed a dislike for you? I guess it’s just me, but when I was a cop you didn’t have to tell me twice. I’d go someplace else.

We had restaurants that popped, that is offered free meals. Others offered half price and still others offered free drinks. There were also restaurants that we didn’t patronize. Sometimes the patronage question was situational and other times the place was a no go all of the time.

I worked for a Sergeant that had the nickname “Happy Meal”. He stood 5’6″ and weighed in at about 350 pounds. He would show up to work an evening shift (2 pm-10 pm) in uniform at 11:30 am. He wanted to beat the lunch rush. He only patronized places that gave free meals. Five days a week lunch and then dinner on the cuff.

The Chief of Police was buddies with a Texas Ranger. The waitresses at the local Jim’s coffee shop once timed this dynamic duo. They sat in a booth and swilled free coffee for seven and a half hours. I guess they couldn’t justify the overtime.

I made it onto the patrol “shit list” when I arrested the son of the proprietor of a local barbecue restaurant. The free meals stopped. Actually, only some officers got freebies, others got freebies sometimes and not other times. The quality of the food differed depending where one stood with the owner. Son was a shit head. He took after his mother. She owned the restaurant.

When I first started working there wasn’t anyplace open after ten o’clock at night. Two motels had attached restaurants. The night auditor at one kept the coffee flowing all night long. That was until the Inn Keeper’s wife got arrested for DWI. The next night the restaurant was locked up tight.

We adjusted and went across the street to the other motel. Two nights later two idiots from Austin decided to rob our usual, now closed coffee spot. The silent alarm went out. The crooks didn’t even make it out of the parking lot before they were confronted by a couple of city police units, a university police unit, one highway patrol, and a game warden.

The Inn Keeper left a message for the midnight shift, please come back. We did and found a buffet, cold cuts, rolls, condiments, shrimp cocktail, and a selection of pies.

Many chain restaurants have a company policy regarding freebies or variations on the theme for first responders. They even have pre-printed forms to document the transaction.

A fellow cop started out in a police department in a Texas town populated with happy cows. The number one priority for the midnight shift was to enter a closed restaurant by 5 am. This, in order to fire up the grill and turn on the zillion gallon coffee urn, in anticipation of the breakfast rush.

Things changed when I started working narcotics. The cop lunch is typically reserved for uniformed officers. If a long haired narc wanted a free lunch, he had better pack it himself. It’s probably just as well we weren’t readily identifiable.

I’ve written about Blutto before. He had the build and enough hair to make a bear skin rug. That is provided the bear was bald. Over the years Blutto was legendary for his appetite. For instance:

  • He once assembled a raid team for a search warrant. He conducted the briefing and concluded by saying he wanted to take one more drive by the location. The situation commander overruled him. Blutto didn’t listen. The plan was that the raid team would follow him to the target. Blutto was hungry. He was so focused on getting a quick hamburger that he never looked in his rear view mirror. He ended up dragging the raid team, K9 unit and two marked SAPD patrol units through the drive through at Mickey D’s.
  • Blutto went to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet prior to shift. Two and a half hours later the owner threw him out of the place shouting, “You no come back, eat to much!”
  • Blutto had Domino’s Pizza on speed dial. He was such a good customer that Domino’s gave him curbside service. Not theirs, his. He would settle in to conduct a surveillance and order a pizza. He would use whatever address he happened to be parked in front of. Domino’s would deliver to his car. One day, shortly after he ordered a pizza he observed some activity at his target location. He followed a car away from the residence in order to get the license number of the car. He was only gone about five minutes. In that time the Domino’s guy had come and gone. Blutto didn’t know this until the homeowner rapped on his window, with the pizza in hand. The good citizen announced that Blutto owed him for the pizza. The homeowner threw a soft drink in on his own.

My boss and his second in command were walking out of the office to make a leisurely trip across town for a pre-raid briefing. A FNG asked to go along with them. They agreed and everybody loaded up. The FNG had been at ANTS for about two days. He was just trying it out. Since there was plenty of time, he asked if they planned on eating. The boss offered to swing through Mickey D’s. That was fine with the FNG and once in the drive through he ordered enough food to feed a third world village. They didn’t order anything.

The FNG, happily munching away in the back seat asked them how come they didn’t order anything? Weren’t they hungry. Both agreed that they were indeed hungry. But they usually didn’t eat, prior to a search warrant operation.

They explained that in about 95% of the drug search warrants we executed we also found guns. Search warrants are considered a critical incident, in that there is an increased likelihood of injury. When injuries did occur they were liable to be serious. Our operations plan called for a hospital to be designated. We were fortunate that San Antonio had three Level I trauma centers and those were the only hospitals that we used. That was also the reason that we had our own paramedics accompany us on raids. Finally, the paramedics agreed if one were going to get gut shot, it was best if it happened on an empty stomach. The FNG lost his appetite. He decided that high speed low drag wasn’t for him.

The fast food business is such that firing those idiots has only shifted the problem to another restaurant. I guess the cops can hope that none of their friends remained behind at 5 Guys. Chances are they just moved down the street to another fast food place. What they learned is, “keep your mouth shut.” Spitting in cops food makes a minimal amount of noise. Don’t even think about how they poke holes in donuts.

What would Tony do?