Free Stuff Is Expensive

Police officers are not supposed to accept gratuities. This is something that they are taught in the police academy and sometimes untaught by veteran police officers.

I had a trainee in the office with me and we were spending a significant amount of time report writing, as the trainee had made an excellent arrest the day before of some meth addicted mail thieves. We had a lot of mail to catalog and victims to contact for statements and it was very time consuming. As it neared midnight, and my stomach was gurgling, I told him we were going to go get dinner.

My choice, because trainees do not have a choice, was a well-known hot dog chain that I frequented and which might help explain my current physical shape and health issues. The night shift manager always recognized me, and if no one was behind me in the drive-thru, we chatted for a few minutes. And up until this point, he had never offered me a free meal.

The trainee was driving as we went through the drive-thru, made our order and then arrived at the service window. I handed the trainee a $20 bill, because if I’m choosing the food, I should have to pay for it and the total of our food added up to little more than $14. The manager greeted me by name and handed the bag of food to the trainee.

Then said, “No charge.”

The trainee looked over at me, like “Is this a test?”

He then explained that we cannot accept free food and showed the manager his cash. The manager politely refused. The trainee looked at me again, scowled, and then threw the $20 bill through the service window and drove away, quickly.

I overheard him talking to another young officer later, saying that I had done that to him on purpose. I hadn’t, but I never told him that. And even though I spent $20 on $14 worth of food, I did give him an exceptional score for that shift.