So the other day around lunch-thirty, I’m off duty in plain clothes in a neighboring jurisdiction. I’m standing in line at the local taco-in-a-sack joint, waiting for the beefed up patrol officer in front of me to finish placing his order.
After ordering a plethora of tacos and burritos, the teenage cashier “rings” him up and you would have thought she just committed a felonious act. The next series of events lasted a good 10 minutes.
The next thing I see and hear is: “Um... you guys give us discounts.”
The poor young girl is thrown for a loop and says, “Do you have a coupon?”
Now the officer is visibly irritated and says, “Officers get a discount.”
Although no one in the entire restaurant knew I was also an officer, my face turned dark red in embarrassment of my profession and I started to sweat a little. I’m standing there, quite hungry as is the rest of the beginning-to-get-quite-lengthy line behind me while this officer is insisting on saving three dollars and thirty one cents.
The visibly-confused girl says, “Hang on.” She wanders to the back of the kitchen and disappears. An eternity later, the manager appears from the abyss, swipes his employee card and gives the kind officer his 50 percent off which he had quite clearly been expecting.
I couldn’t decide if I wanted to just walk up and pay for the Officer’s meal to get him out of the way or punch him for embarrassing law enforcement. Everyone in the line was — to put it mildly — rather unhappy with him.
Let’s dissect and discuss. First of all, if a business owner feels — out of the kindness of his heart — to discount an officer’s meal including mine, I am very grateful, and follow it up with, ‘Thank you very much, you don’t have to do that.” But by no means do I expect any special treatment or favors. If I can’t afford the meal I’m about to purchase I have no business ordering it. We don’t give “discounts” when enforcing the law and doing our job and I don’t expect any from anyone else doing theirs.
Most restaurants, even national chain restaurants, are franchised and owned by a local business owner. He is working hard to make a living, just like the rest of us. He has employees to pay and overhead to purchase. The fact that he/she wants to thank public servants by discounting their meals is a very kind gesture, not a requirement.
And this wouldn’t be the first time I witnessed this behavior either. How bout the officer that comes in and orders for his whole family and get it “to go”, or the off duty officer that “whips” out his badge and demands a discount? Such instances are a disgrace to the uniform in my opinion.
I’ve been told that cops back in 1965 just displayed their badges for freebie meals, movies, bar tabs — you name it.
But for God’s sake, this is 2012, not 1965!
I appreciate when people show their gratitude for us laying our lives on the line day in and day out, but I also know I signed up to do it, and don’t expect a free taco because of it.
I wish I would have been in uniform that day, standing behind officer meathead, because to prove a point, I would have order my Enchirito and my Taco Elite, paid full price, and probably paid for the guy standing behind me for the preceding 15 minutes.
Perhaps in so doing I might save some dignity for law enforcement in the community.
Or maybe one day, when I retire, I will own a restaurant, and of course I will take care of the officer’s on the beat, and make sure they get fed at a discounted price. But god help the officer that comes into my business and starts demanding anything from the teenager working the cash register, because after I have a little discussion with him/her and explain that it costs me money to help him out, his boss may get to listen to my discontent about his officer’s expectation in my restaurant over a complimentary meal too.
So let’s hear some opinions on this ...rip me a new one if you want to, or have my back on it. Either way, here’s your chance to sound off.
Stay safe and happy lunch break.