My Bodyguard

Even though I have not subscribed to my local newspaper for awhile, I still read the obituaries online each morning. Most of the time the roster is comprised of strangers, but every once in awhile I see someone I have known. It can be a former client, an old neighbor or maybe an older (usually) lawyer or judge whom I have met over a long career. But recently I saw an obit for an old retired cop. I have never been in a “police family”, so have known very few people in law enforcement. But I remembered this one, because he was the guy who came to my assistance the only time I ever needed police protection.

Years ago I got involved in a guardianship case that was more headache than most. It resulted in quite a few family stories, but it was not fun at the time. It involved a young mentally handicapped man who had been the recent beneficiary of a winfall payout from the government. A large scale lawsuit had accused an agency of being too stingy in calculating benefits for under-age beneficiaries of its program, and the result was back pay for those affected. The Readers’ Digest version is that this young man had come into a payment of something like $30,000, and some family members were concerned that the person named as his payee was not trustworthy.

I was hired to open a guardianship for the young man and have a different relative appointed as his guardian. The judge did not like the cut of my client’s jib (he was very perceptive about these things) and I suddenly found myself being appointed as the kid’s guardian instead. Out of those many stories that came out of the experience, only one involved the police.

My first job as a new guardian was to get this kid’s money from the one who had been holding it. This has been close to thirty years ago and I have forgotten how this idea came about, but the plan was to meet the other person in a public place for the exchange. I was not dealing with a class of people who are well-experienced with financial institutions, and I learned that the money I would be receiving would be in cold, hard cash. As in Simoleans. Long green. Smackeroos. And the exchange would be in a diner in a not-very-good area of the city.

I mentioned my plan to another fellow in my office, and I will never forget the look on his face. This fellow was an attorney who had been a police officer for a short time in early adulthood. “You’re not going in there by yourself, are you?” Being young myself (and thus invincible) I told him that I had planned to do just that. “You really ought to have some protection” was his response. “I know a guy, let me call him.”

Frank Evans was an old friend of his who agreed to meet me at the diner. When I arrived, there was a big, burly uniformed police officer in his marked car. The fellow was probably in his early 50s then, and was pleasant but all business. He and I walked into the restaurant and we sat down at the table where the handoff would take place. As the woman across the table counted out close to $30k (mostly in $100 bills), Frank stood there with one hand on his holstered weapon and his head swiveling back and forth looking for potential threats. I still remember the sense of ease that I felt in that diner with a full-on cop having my back.

After I had given the woman a receipt, Frank accompanied me to a nearby bank branch where I had arranged to open an account. I went into the bank while he sat outside in his car watching the door while I made the large deposit. After the deed was done, I handed him a check for the amount we had agreed up for his work. It was extremely reasonable and as I shook his hand, I was very happy that my colleague had suggested this course of action.

That was the first and last time I saw Frank, but I never forgot him or his name. Which is saying something for me, because I am not very good at remembering names of people I meet only briefly. I don’t know if it was just the name or the combination of the name with a picture in the obituaries that day that caught my attention. He died at the age of 82, survived by a wife of many years, children and grandchildren. And I doubt that he would have remembered me at all after a long career of police and security work.

We have lots of brief encounters with people that are not memorable in the least, and we also have more lasting interactions that leave more of an impression. Seeing Frank Evans’ obituary reminded me of this experience. I did not know him at all, but he seemed to me at the time everything we look for in a police officer. Rest in peach, Officer Evans.

COAL Update: We are getting close to the end of this series, but we are not there yet. This was only my third brand new car, but one that I bought without much enthusiasm. How did it worm its way into my heart the way it has?

20 thoughts on “My Bodyguard

  1. It’s easy to see why Mr. Evans made a lasting impression. From what you describe, just his standing in the restaurant the way he did was quite memorable. While impossible to ever determine, it would be interesting to know with how many others Mr. Evans made a similar impression. For whatever reason, officers can be of similar height or build as me or you yet have a much more obvious (imposing?) presence. Amazing how that works.

    While the situations were different, I have had to make use of law enforcement services a few times. One involved an employee making a threat against another. I was the lucky person to meet the threat-maker in a public place so I could suspend him. An officer met me there. Giving him a few specifics, his response was “sounds like a real charming guy” while he did a background check.

    All went well, but it was great to know I had a person there as help should things have gone sour. No doubt you had the same feeling in your more complex situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If either of us had been dealing with a genuine dangerous nut job, there could still have been some real danger, but the deterrence provided by an officer’s presence should not be underestimated.

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  2. A really great story for a Friday! Its got cash money, shady relatives, and law enforcement, plus a “drop” at a questionable diner in a sketchy neighborhood! What’s not to like!!

    BTW J.P., old age = obit scanning. It goes along with getting the right diet to stay ‘regular’, and nodding off early at night. I’ve only lived about half a life where I live now, and I still scan the Sunday obit section…

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is true, all of us will end up in the obits at some time or other. One by one, there is a virtually complete replacement of the human population, what, every 80-90 years?

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  3. I looked at Frank’s obit, he certainly looked like a cop. Nice job all around.

    JP and I aren’t quite elderly, so I don’t feel too bad about scanning the newspaper every morning. At work we used to have a large photo of all the staff gathered in the workshop, around 80 people. For a few years an interesting pastime was to identify the people who no longer worked there. Then after a few years it became interesting to identify who was still working there. Then it became who was no longer living. Time marches on….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s a nice tribute you wrote for this officer JP. It was good to go into that situation and know someone had your back. Last year our local newspaper decided to put up a paywall and all the headlines I now see posted in social media, formerly available to read online verbatim from the print edition, stay just as interesting headlines for me and no more. While I like reading the local news, the prices for the e-subscription are outrageous. I must admit that I have never been an obituary reader, but when “The News Herald” was free, I’d often see a photo of someone from my work past (police officers who frequented the diner, or like you … often judges, attorneys or clients), or someone’s name I recognized. My mom read the obituaries at “The Detroit News” for years and my grandmother would do the same with “The Toronto Star” where she’d often find older, longtime fellow parishioners from St. Helen’s Catholic Church, a huge church at the end of her street which she had attended for decades. She’d don her black dress, hat with veil and walk up to the funeral home next to the church to pay her respects.

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  5. Marianne finally stomped her high-heeled foot about the car and you took notice! As to the power lock issue, I had that fixed for all four locks in May last year. That is a big job and going in reverse, then forward causes the doors to unlock each time and another thing no one told me when I picked the car up, the alarm does not work anymore. The red light on the dashboard flashes like it works, but don’t let that fool you. I ordered “The Original Club” from Amazon to ensure no one breaks in.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Me too JP and I wonder if they tested the alarm and said “oops” or didn’t test it at all? I’m thinking the latter. It never occurred to me that replacing the door locks would mess up the alarm system. A few months later I walked out to the garage one morning and was thinking of something else and pulled the door without opening it with the key fob … as I did that I thought “oh now I feel stupid as the horn is going to go off and it’s early.” It didn’t go off, so I tried it again – nope.

        Did I ever mention my VW Beetle that someone tried to steal from behind the diner while I was working? The owner saw him and threatened to shoot him if he didn’t leave (lots of drama there – the owner was murdered a few years later). I went to an auto place and had the Beetle retrofitted with an alarm system. If it was windy, the alarm went off … if you walked past and happened to hit the car with a purse or bag, it went off. I took it back for adjustments so many times, I finally had it disconnected.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, sir. It is true, there have been more than a few stories that have come out of this career.

      As an aside, I am behind in reading, but got to (and enjoyed) your piece on Wright’s Falling Water. I would have commented, but WP told me that comments had been turned off for that post. Is there a timer on how long the combox remains open? Anyway, I am now regretting not making a detour during the many trips we made to and from the Philadelphia area over the years.

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