Updated: Nov 5, 2018
Your first day of the academy. A monumental step towards the rest of your life. I can remember being excited, proud and nervous all at the same time; along with an ever growing feeling of dread and despair. But we’ll touch on that later! So what was the first day like? Well if your academy is worth its salt, it will forever standout in your memory as one of the hardest days of your life. The mind games during day one, are on a whole other level. As well as the physical demand put on your body.
Now, this was an expected event. I mean we all knew it was coming, and yet we did so badly. Smh. Basically it went like this; as the start date for the Academy neared emails were sent out. Some for picking up equipment, others for taking pictures and ordering uniforms etc. One of these emails in particular stated that Cadets would be expected to read, study, and regurgitate upon extreme interrogation, the information listed in the Cadet Handbook. This information consisted of Chain of Command, 10 codes, sectors, do’s and don’ts for Cadet behavior, and the history of Fallen Officers within the Department. A lot of information sure, but noting terribly difficult. Or so I thought; and boy did I think wrong. As we all went through the gauntlet, my classmates bombed each question repeatedly. With each incorrectly answered question, the dread and despair grew and grew until I was sure right there on the spot we were going to get the business. That anticipation, of any moment we would be forced to repent for our ignorance kept me on edge. But to my surprise, our IC’s only yelled. All things considered it was quite moderate. I began to relax a little. Maybe things wouldn’t be as bad as I had worked them up to be in my mind.
DEATH BY POWERPOINT
We were then all ushered into the classroom, where I experienced a hell like no other. Death by PowerPoint. It’s real, it sucks, and the pain transcends the mental realm. The sheer boredom and monotony of the PowerPoint presentations manifested themselves as a physical pain within my body, to which the only relief was sleep. Did I fall victim to the sweet embrace of sleep? Yes, yes I did. I honestly believe at some point we all did. Each time I would leave this world to join the dream realm, I would snap awake fear racking my body that I had been spotted by an IC. But each time the IC’s remained silent, and in their seats at the back of the classroom. I relaxed a bit more. Maybe they understood that the PowerPoints sucked? This wouldn’t be so bad after all, I’m liking the Academy so far.
DEATH BY PAPERWORK
Have you ever written so much your hand cramped? Have you ever signed your name so much that you forgot how to sign your name? Again, it’s real, and it sucks. Litany of paperwork, forms, documents, benefits, legal work, Departmental hoopla, it will never end. Something I noticed during the process was that every single document was extremely important. I found it odd because my f@#$s were at an all-time low by this point, and I marveled at the sheer audacity of it all. Here I was half insane from the PowerPoint barrage, reading and signing legally binding documents that determined pay, benefits and other important things. But still no smoke sessions, no intense physical torment. Things were looking up.
Have your ever seen True Blood on HBO? My wife put me on to it. It’s a Vampire chick flick kind of show but it grows on you. Anyways, one thing the Vampires are in fear of the most in the show is the True Death. A death they cannot come back from. This is essentially what I experienced for damn near 3 hours, as my body experienced a level of exhaustion that I had yet experienced up until that point in my life; and haven’t experienced since. Let me explain. So at this point in the day all the Cadets are thoroughly mentally drained, but relatively well off. Lunch was a peaceful time, as we grazed unmolested by the IC’s. The day was almost over, I think we had about an hour and a half or so before we would be cut loose. The general feeling amongst my classmates was that “hey, we must’ve impressed the IC’s enough that they aren’t going to smoke us or anything”. Plus we figured if they did we wouldn’t be outside for too long since the workday was pretty much over.
The problem we soon learned was two-fold. First, we had not impressed the IC’s with our conduct during the day, not even a little bit. Second, time was a barrier that they we’re willing and able to overcome, with extreme prejudice.
One minute we are sitting in the classroom ready to be released, the next we’re being ordered outside to the herald of curses and screams. Waiting for us outside, was a Police showing so large I was sure the streets weren’t being adequately manned. Yelling, screaming, exercise, pain, exercise, cursing, screaming. It went like that for a while. About an hour and a half while. During the whole thing I managed to glance at my watch, and find solace in the fact that 4pm was 5 minutes away. Soon it would all be over. Strength renewed, I pushed through pain, light firmly in view at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
They lined us up a bit past 4pm, nothing excessive, let’s say 4:15. Yelling continued, insults and the norm. But a conclusion to the madness was at hand. Finally the words “Get out of my sight!” were given. The herd, that was us Cadets, made its way to safety. As we arrived at the door to the classrooms to retrieve our belongings and flee, a problem. The doors were locked, none of us had the key. A horror began to set in amongst the crowd of Cadets. Standing there so close to salvation I came to a cold realization, we weren’t done. They weren’t letting us go home. “Ya’ll still outside?! Must want some more! Line it back up!” That’s all I remember before my soul left my body and I entered into a physical hell. There were Fire Department water hoses, a mountain run and a unicorn I believe; though I cannot be sure what was real and what was dehydration. We went home eventually that day, at 5:30, dripping wet, exhausted, confused, and half conscious.
Something you never forget. Your first day at the Academy.
As always this post is sponsored by the “Rookie Handbook: A quick reference guide to calls for service”. It was written by Cops for Cops, its quick, to the point, and has helped numerous Cadets Graduate, and many a Rookie make it off FTO.