This is a short non-fiction tale about an employee who I'll forever remember as 'snaggletooth'; a nickname I bestowed upon his short-bus-eligible ass.

"It just came out? The rest of your teeth are perfectly fine. Teeth don't just fall out. Did you get smacked in the mouth during a fight?" I asked. (Snaggletooth was a Military Police Investigator employed by me at the CID office, as an undercover drug officer. Although I knew of no "altercations," that just meant he or his supervisor decided not to tell the boss, not that a fight hadn't happened.)

"Nope. It fell out."

"Well you're lucky, the Army dentist will do it for free; for a civilian that'd be real expensive to fix."

"It's no big deal. I wasn't gonna fix it."


"You think I should?"

"Yeah. I really think you should."

"I dunno, it's no big deal."

For the next seven months (until I fired him) he never fixed the front of his face. But...I'm getting ahead of myself. The next WTF happened a month later, when Snaggletooth's immediate supervisor, Staff Sergeant Snuffy, rushed into my office:

"Chief, Chief, you have got to hear this." He said as he came around my desk, picked up and dialed my phone, handed me the handset, and said. "Just listen."

The ring-tone was followed by Snaggletooth's voice: Hiya! You've reached Xxx Xxxx's Machine. I'm out arresting bad guys and can't get to the phone right now. Leave a message at the beep.

So his supervisor had to explain to him what the word 'undercover' meant, and I get a story to tell.

But that was just Snaggletooth's first strike. Several months later SSG Snuffy comes rushing into my office (he seemed to always be in a state of mania).

"Chief, Chief, you have got to see this." He said as he placed a well-worn, 100-page spiral notebook in the center of my blotter. It didn't lay flat because it had been, obviously, folded in half so that it could fit into a pocket. "Before you open it, though, let me explain."

"Is this about...?"

"Snaggletooth. Yea." Snuffy's eyes looked concerned but his voice was holding a giggle back. I suspected this was a prank of some kind and decided to go with it. "For as long as Snaggle's been working for me, I've seen him writin and I just figured—well, everyone did—that it was a diary. I asked him about it a while ago, cause I was concerned he might be puttin classified stuff in there and then might go an leave it layin around for anyone to find. But, he said it wasn't about work. He told me he was just writin in the book to pass the time. The only thing was, nobody on the team had ever seen what he wrote. I asked. They all said he always closed the book when they got close. I found it layin on the table in the break area, today. He musta left it there when he wentta lunch."

He nodded and look-pointed at the notebook (signaling it was time to read what Snagglepuss had written). I opened it at about the middle. Both sides of the pages were filled top-to-bottom, margin-to-margin, with numbers. Handwritten in black ink.

. . . 5982, 5983, 5984, 5985, 5986, 5987, 5988, 5989, 5990, 5991, 5992, 5993, 5994, 5995, 5996, 5997, 5998, 5999, 6000, 6001, 6002, 6003, . . .

I looked at Snuffy to see if this was a prank on me. The concern was still there, the giggle was no longer around. I leafed through the book. About 3/4 of the book was full and the last page was half filled.

. . . 94841, 94842, 94843, 94844, 94845, 94846, 94847, 94848, 94849, 94850, 94851, 94852, 94853, 94854, 94855, 94856, 94857

The front page began with 1. The last page ended with 94,857. Every number was on a line. None that I could see were skipped. I thought about, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," from The Shining. I realized that I had an insane person working as an undercover drug officer.

I talked to Snaggle. He claimed, just like Snuffy said he would, that it was 'just something to pass the time'. I told him it was, in my opinion an abnormal way to pass the time. He asked what I would consider a normal way to pass the time. So...I noted that—since he liked to write—a normal way to pass the time, would be to sketch or write down anything that enters one's head, like a fiction story or maybe a real event that happened to him.

"I ain't got much talent for that kind of stuff, Chief." He replied.

So I suspended him from active case work and sent him to a psychiatrist. Snaggle told me his discussions with the therapist were, "...Mostly boring and a waste of time. He says my writing isn't abnormal, though..." His therapist sternly informed me I was wrong (I think he used inappropriate use of my authority and a bunch of other fluff-words) to have said Snaggle's "list-writing" was abnormal.

After about a month of Snaggle doing only paperwork, I discovered his car had handcuffs hanging from the rear-view-mirror, and an MP brassard in the rear deck. Strike three.

"Chief, I thought it was OK, since I'm on admin-duty, now."

"No Snag, it's not OK. But it will be next week. I'm sending you back to be a real time-y po-leece officer. You can carry those cuffs on yer belt and wear that brassard on yer shoulder and when you just want to pass the time, you can write down all the license plate numbers you see during your shift because that'll be a normal way for an MP who is not undercover to pass the time.

Our society tends to regard as a "sickness" any mode of thought or behavior that is inconvenient for the system, and this is plausible because when an individual doesn't fit into the system it causes pain to the individual as well as problems for the system. Thus the manipulation of an individual to adjust him to the system is seen as a "cure" for a "sickness" and therefore as good. — Theodore Kaczynski

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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