I know it's not politically correct these days to mention, let along emphasize, a person's nationality. Especially a good Irish cop's.
But Mike was such a great cop, and his being Irish was so obvious, I just can't help myself. His bluster was refreshing in a politically correct world, and he was the only real Irish cop I'd ever known.
But I will hide his identity by not using his real name. I will use some of his real activities.
The last time I saw him was as I drove my bus through a high school parking lot. He was working at his retirement job, mowing grass. At the moment, he was just standing there, looking at me.
"Hey, Mike," I shouted.
When he shouted back, I said, "I wanted you to know I'm using some of your characteristics in one of the cops in a novel I'm writing."
He laughed and shouted back, "Oh yeah, sure you are."
The first time I met him was at the police station, where he was chief. He had given me a cup of coffee and said, "I hate reporters."
I figured he wouldn't shoot me, so I replied, "That's all right, just keep giving me good coffee and passable news."
He grumbled, refilled my cup, and I finished my police blotter report for that town.
Some of the times I met him outside the police station were pretty interesting.
I was taking photos at a town event. I aimed the camera at Mike and clicked.
"Hey, you can't take my picture," he shouted in his threatening way.
"Why?" I asked, "Are you afraid I'll steal your soul stuff? If you are, don't worry. You don't have a soul."
He grumbled and made threatening motions. I chuckled and turned back to the town event.
Taking Mike's picture had been my event.
He apologized to me one day for the way he had treated my son, who had been having car trouble. Mike said he had tried to help, but my son had become belligerent, so Mike had walked away.
"Sounds like what I would have done," I commented.
On another occasion, I had been copying the police blotter for the paper that was employing me. One entry had been about a man, who had dropped his employer's bag of money into a trash bin. If I remember, he later found it. Mike had come to me and said I shouldn't use the man's name in the paper. I asked why, since police aren't supposed to limit what reporters write, and he said that should the man's boss see the article, the man who had dropped the money bag would likely be fired.
That sounded logical and seemed appropriate for the type of news I wrote in small towns, so I didn't use the name. After I had submitted the article, the editor phoned and said I shouldn't use the name when I wrote the article. I suggested that the editor read the article I'd already turned in and was on the editor's computer.
I heard no more from the editor about that story. Sometimes a cop can be helpful.
Once when Mike wasn't helpful was after a tourist, who had been in town for two weeks, told me he wasn't going to pay a parking ticket.
"The weather was awful for both weeks," he said, "and I didn't get to enjoy my time here."
Hey, that happens in Maine, a lot.
And there was no sign in the area indicating parking was not permitted where the tourist had gotten the ticket.
I spoke to Mike about there not being a "no parking" sign.
He replied, "He should have known about it anyway."
Mike exhibited a tough, mean exterior to the degree that motorists did not speed in any area where Mike patrolled. One way to encourage drivers to obey the speed limit, not making them afraid of a ticket but of having Mike holler at them.
When I was first dating Dolores, I drove her through Mike's area of law-enforcement vigilance. He was directing traffic at a pedestrian crossing, and as I drove by, he hollered, "Hey you, pull over!"
"What does he want?" Dolores asked.
"He just wants to meet you," I replied.
We parked in a nearby lot and walked across the pedestrian crossing, where I introduced him to Dolores.
We chatted awhile, while Mike took time to give drivers intimidating looks as they didn't speed past us.
Then it was getting time for us to leave, and he continued to give drivers those intimidating looks as the three of us chatted.
Finally, it was time, and I said to Mike, "If you would do your duty and help pedestrians across the street, we could get out of here."
He did and we did.
Mike is now retired. Traffic doesn't go quite as slow where he had patrolled. In small towns, drivers know who is and isn't directing traffic.
I'm retired too from news writing, but my memory of Mike keeps that part of my old job alive.
And I'll never forget the coffee that good Irish cop served.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at email@example.com.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2013