Peas & Carrots, Cops & Donuts
Let’s face it: when you think cops, you think donuts. I’m sure your mind conjures up the beat cop sitting on a stool in the coffee shop, a cup of joe and a donut in front of him. Some of us likely imagine that Norman Rockwell painting of the cop with the kid in the donut shop.
This iconic (yet stereotypical) image is based in reality.
Back in the day, before 24-hour eateries, before drive-through, before nutrition mattered (okay, I just threw that last piece in–nutrition has ALWAYS mattered, just not so much adhered to, perhaps!), the only place a cop could get a bite to eat after 8 pm was in a coffee shop.
I began my policing career in those days. We had a coffee shop close to the station, and that’s where we went for our coffees throughout the shift. Day, evening, or midnights. There was a permanent woman who worked the midnight shift, and we all knew her. In fact, we were also likely as familiar with the people who frequented the shop during that long dark shift as she was.
The midnight shift always seemed longer, darker, colder….
The guy who came in to make the donuts for the day usually arrived at 3 a.m. Until then, she was in the shop alone. Occasionally, one of her regulars would become belligerent and she would kick them out and/or ban them for a while but, perhaps due to the steady stream of cops coming in for coffee, there was never any real trouble.
The coffee was not very good, even by yesterday’s standards.
The donuts were usually stale by the time we got them, too. But this coffee shop was the only game in town. And the coffee was usually free.
I occasionally worked the midnight shift with a guy who had a large family. We used to drop by the coffee shop just as the old donuts were going to be chucked out. I assume that this was a regular practice for him because, the woman who ran the place would hand him a bag of stale donuts that he would then take back to the station and put in his locker. Apparently, he took them home after shift for his kids.
Another time, there was a call for an ‘unwanted guest’ at this particular donut shop. Seven police cruisers carrying a total of 14 uniformed officers arrived. The so-called unwanted guest was removed without incident, never to return.
Today, very few police officers can be found sitting in a coffee shop. Most use the drive-throughs and some (gasp!) don’t even drink coffee. The world has changed, but the image stands.
I’m just going to grab myself a coffee. And a stale donut.
Until next week, I’m 10-7 for shift.
Desmond Ryan – Real Detective. Real Crime. Fiction