P1 Humor Corner: Don’t be a hamster

What do the misadventures of two hamsters have to do with the cops reading PoliceOne?


Many years ago, when I was attending college, I met and fell in love with a beautiful young woman. Shortly after that, we moved in together. She is one of those people who just has to have a pet. In the last 28 years we’ve had dogs, cats, rabbits, fish, and horses.

Back in those early days, living in town, in an upstairs apartment that college students could afford, didn’t afford too many options for pets. When the pet urge hit she bought two hamsters and we named them Kanga and Roo.

My wife is a firm believer that if you are going to have a pet they should be cute and cuddly and “pettable” — this did not work out well for the fish. She also thinks that pets should be allowed room to roam. She decided that the hamster wheel in the cage didn’t provide enough of a change of view or entertainment for the rodent pair.  Since letting the rodents run loose in the house didn’t seem like a very good idea, she bought a couple of clear plastic balls from the local pet store. The tops unscrew, you place the hamster inside; secure the hatch, and instant entertainment.

Hamster Balls
In the ball, the hamster could freely roam the apartment at whatever speed they chose — usually it was as fast as they could go. They would go scooting across the floor at a high rate of speed, inside you could see the little buggers running for all they were worth, until they would ram into something. With a loud plastic “thunk” they would bounce off the furniture, the wall or each other. The balls would roll back slightly. You would see them inside the ball regaining their feet, shaking their furry little heads to clear the cob webs, face in a new direction and off they would go again as fast as their four little feet would take them.

This was pretty cheap entertainment for someone on a college student’s budget and they provided hours of humor for us and our visitors. However, every once in a while we would put the pair in their rodent-powered spheres and forget to close the door leading to the stairway to the outside exit.

Wouldn’t be long before we heard the sound of, “Thunk…….thunk…thunk..thunk,thunk thunk...” We’dgo racing downstairs scared that they may be injured only to find that they were unharmed, at least as far as we could tell not being medically certified in small mammal medicine. Sometimes you would hear a final “ping” and you knew that the hatch had come off. This usually meant that Roo or Kanga had been ejected. We would usually find them lying on their back looking dazed but not injured. After a quick check up they would be put back in their cage to recover from their “exercise.”

This unfortunate lapse of memory occurred more than a few times — I think this was right about the time we decided not to have kids. Despite our less than stellar caretaking of these two Roo lived a long and healthy rodent life.  I forgot the lid off the cage one night. Kanga escaped and we found him the next day drowned in a pail of water under the kitchen sink. 

Really Small Brains
So, what do the misadventures of two hamsters have to do with the cops reading PoliceOne? Those plastic orbs they ran around in were smooth and round. The squad car you drive in isn’t.  The hamsters were small, furry, rodents with really small brains. You aren’t.

Inside your squad car without your seatbelt you are like a hamster in a ball. Except your ball has all kinds of hard, flat, sharp surfaces — steering wheel, computer, cage, long gun, long gun rack, visor, rear view mirror, pillar posts, dash, windshield, spotlight handle... oh, and oncoming traffic.

If you’re the cop who thinks you shouldn’t wear a seatbelt because you can’t get out of your car fast enough on a stop try wearing your seatbelt until you start to stop.

Right hand releases the seatbelt and returns to the steering wheel, left hand catches it, lifts it out far enough to clear your gear, right hand puts the car in park, as the car comes to a stop, the left hand opens the door. You’re safe and secure inside your ball until you need to exit. At what speed do you start this process — 15, 20, 25 mph?

Just ask yourself what speed you want to be going if you kiss the steering wheel.  It’s your ball, it’s your face.

If you think that process is too difficult let me ask you this. Do you carry your gun in your hand or in your holster? In your holster, right? Why? It’s secure until you need it. If you can figure out and practice how to draw that weapon you should be able to figure out a seatbelt. I’ve never seen a level II or III seatbelt but you probably carry a Level II or III holster don’t you? Why? Officer Safety! You don’t want to lose it. You want to keep your hands free for other things. You don’t want it falling out. You don’t want other people taking it from you.

So you keep your gun secured in a holster until the situation requires that you take it out. Why not do the same for yourself?

Those two hamsters didn’t have a whole lot of choice.  Don’t be a hamster.

About the author

In February 2014, Duane Wolfe retired from his career as a Minnesota Peace Officer after more than 25 years of service (beginning in 1988). During his career he served as patrolman, sergeant, S.R.T., Use of Force and Firearms Instructor, and is currently employed by the Parkers Prairie Police Department. He is also a full time instructor in the Law Enforcement Program at Alexandria Technical College, Alexandria, Minnesota. Duane has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Bemidji State University, and a Masters Degree in Education from Southwest State University. Duance has previously published articles on Calibre Press and IALEFI and served on the Advisory Board for Lt. Col. Dave Grossmans book, On Combat. Contact Duane Wolfe

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