Civil Servants

Working for the state brings with it a certain civic responsibility. You know - Serve and Protect and all that. Here in Chicago, we know that our civil servants don’t always live up to these responsibilities. That’s why I had to admire the actions of a state policeman mentioned in an article in the Chicago tribune in August of 1973. Here’s the story:

This public servant and his partner were escorting a convicted felon from Chicago to Joliet State Prison. Now, cliches are cliches for a reason, and I am not up here to tell lies. En route, they stopped for coffee and donuts.

But ever civic-minded, only one officer went in for the coffee. And donuts. We’ll call him Ponch. That left Jon to monitor our prisoner. Just to be on the safe side, they handcuffed Jon to the prisoner - let’s call him Bennie, cause that was his name. So, all’s good?

Well, no. No sooner does Ponch enter the coffee shop than Bennie politely asks Jon to remove the handcuffs. Officer Jon declines. That is so admirable. Undeterred, Bennie exits the vehicle and proceeds, running, down the road, with Officer Jon in tow. As the article tells it, after about a quarter mile of this, Jon agrees that their paths should indeed part, and uncuffs Bennie, who disappears.

The article went on to relate Bennie’s M/O: Dressed smartly in a suit, he hailed cabs at fancy downtown hotels and jovially engaged the drivers en route to the destination, where the driver assisted Bennie with his suitcases into the entry of the apartment building, at which time Bennie would politely request the drivers money and drive off in the cab.

Why do I tell you this? Well, I was an employee of the state, with, believe it or not - a similar civic responsibility. And Bennie was my charge. In fact, I had a similar encounter with him about a month before his dalliance with Ponch and Jon.

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