Why I’m a Cop, by Pablo Goldstein

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Listen up, kid. In my 12 years of walking the beat, I’ve learned what it takes to survive in the big city. But there ain’t many police like me. Nuh-uh. Usually cops end up as one of two schmoes: Either doe-eyed rookies burnt out after a few months, or Grey-Hairs sucking down a cold cup of Joe in the bullpen because they couldn’t hack it out on the streets. Wanna know my secret to avoiding those fates? I’ll tell ya. It’s because when I put on the badge in the morning, I know exactly why I do it.

I want to protect and serve the fine people of New York City. And I really, really like licking cocaine off the tips of my fingers.

You ain’t my first partner, buddy. In fact, you’re number five. Two of them now got stripes on their shoulders while the other two ain’t breathin’ no more. They were all good police who wanted to wipe the scum off these streets just as much as I did. But some of them died in a pool of their own blood while the others are stuck filling out paperwork Downtown for an extra 10K a year. You realize why none of them could handle the beat, dont’cha, Harvard? Let’s just say finding an easily-fingered baggie of cocaine didn’t give them the same rush as it does to me.

It’s that rush that’ll get you through the day. That’s what I love about this job. You never know where you’re going to get that boost of adrenaline. If you wanna be alert and not get yourself killed, sometimes you just gotta throw caution to the wind. Crack a few skulls, break down some doors, get up-close and personal with street-hardened crooks. That’s what gets you amped and ready to take on the punks who think they run this town. That, and stoically licking cocaine off your fingertips while nodding to your partner to signify that it’s the real deal.

There ain’t no city like New York, junior. Says in your file that you grew up in Connecticut. That’s a whole ‘nother world from Brooklyn, my friend. Yeah, the neighborhood has gotten a little nicer, but there’s still a lot of scum around these parts. And they come in all different shapes and colors. I once busted this skinny jeans-wearing knucklehead who we thought was slingin’ yay across all 5 boroughs. Turns out it wasn’t even coke, it was something called Molly. But it didn’t matter. Sucking it off my fingertips while reading the perp his Miranda Rights got me more euphoric than any other time in my life. Real sweaty, too.

Just don’t let the badge take over your world. You gotta keep your work life and home life separate. After too many late nights spent at home pouring myself into the job, my wife almost left me. She told me, “Patrick! I swear to Christ, I will take the children to my mother’s house if you don’t stop doing hard drugs at the dinner table.” Let’s just say I learned my lesson. Now whenever I drive home from HQ, it’s not the numbness of my tongue from cocaine residue that’s on my mind. It’s my family.

Family is real important around here. My dad was a cop. His brother was a cop. Their father was a cop. When the first of us Santinos moved to America, they didn’t even let Italians on the force. Now look at us. We run the half of the damn precincts! You see that 9/11 plaque on the wall? Any of the names look familiar? Officer Vinny Santino, God rest his soul, was a first responder and my cousin. When we was younger, we’d buy Fun Dips and pretend we were my old man, dabbing a bit of street-level drugs on our tongues to certify that our bust was all on the good-and-ready and not some international powdered sugar ring. Did they even have Fun Dips when you was in junior high…two years ago?

Ha! Hey Frank, did ya hear what I said? I said to the kid, “Did you even have Fun Dips when you was in junior high… two years ago?” Just bustin’ balls, kid. Don’t take it so seriously.

So there you have it. The Big Apple is a rough city. Not everyone can survive, let alone make a name for themselves. But if you was listening with them big elephant ears of yours, I think you’ll do fine. Hell, maybe a few months from now, I’ll even let you get first dibs at wetting your index finger with saliva, covering it in fine uncut Colombian, gently placing it on your tongue, and methodically smacking your lips to ensure what’s being absorbed by your oral salivary glands is The White Lady.

But until then, if you need me, I’ll be in the evidence room.

Pablo Goldstein is a writer and stand-up from Los Angeles.

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