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Where: Rio Hondo College, Wray Theater, Whittier, California
When: July 13, 2012
What: Rio Hondo College College Police Academy, Class 2012-1 Graduation
Who: Cadet William Campbell, Class President
By: Susan Campbell

You’re welcome for being spared the first 11 minutes of the monologue and just showcasing these last three, which to me are the most important and meaningful part of the whole thing, anyway. Not that the first 11 are garbage, just prologue primarily.

And apologies in advance for the baby sitting directly in front of my wife. Over her mother’s shoulder and facing backward, the infant starts up with some serious and continuous fussing basically directly into the camera’s mic about a minute or so before the end and pretty effectively masks what I say.

One of the reasons for the total lack of updates recently has been due to the fact that this month of June has been a very stressed and focused and culminating time of my ongoing public safety training , requiring pretty much most of my attention and relegating any communications on the internest to my Facebook page.

But now June is done. And while this past month has been the toughest most demanding part of my looooong 13-month journey, it’s the final segment of this latest phase in what initially began as a kernel of an idea four years ago. The idea to quit being the inevitable pawn in the various journalism chess games I’ve played this past 20 years and instead do something veeeeery different and far more fulfilling in becoming a humane law enforcement officer, aka, an “animal cop,” more than four years ago.

I know people at my advanced age aren’t supposed to chart such dramatic changes in course, but then I’ve rarely acted my age.  So it is with a sense of pride and accomplishment that I report the successful completion of all gradeable aspects of my training, and thus can now proceed through the final two weeks of scheduled instruction with my fellow cadets of Rio Hondo Police Academy Class 2012-1 to graduation, which will take place July 13 at 10 a.m. at Rio Hondo College.

I still have a ways to go in the process that I hope will conclude with me joining the Animal Protection Services Department within the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA), but I wouldn’t be able to proceed with that final step without achieving this one.

If you’re interested in attending the ceremony at the college in Whittier I would love to have you there. I’ve posted the event’s details here on Facebook.

This just in from my inbox:

FROM: Rio Hondo College
TO: William Campbell
SUBJECT: Rio Hondo College Police Academy

CONGRATULATIONS! You are invited to join the upcoming Rio Hondo College Police Academy class.

 

Barring vacations these last couple years, I can’t recall being off my bike for such a span of time. And certainly none so long when I’ve been able and available to ride. Until this morning when I pedaled to work, the last time I was in the saddle was October 31.

Twelve days.

I blamed going bike-less last week on a variety of issues, one of which was my workload. And that certainly didn’t get any better this week. But with the last hurdle overcome this morning, this is pretty much the first day in which sighs of relief are available to me.

One of those sighs of relief was the fact that I still have a job. On top of everything else I’ve absorbed and processed (to varying degrees of success and failure) this last month or so, the doozy came Tuesday when a mandatory all-staff meeting was called.

Historically, there are three things that have happened when we’ve been hastily congregated into the conference room — all usually having something to do with the losing of jobs. Tuesday’s was no different other than it being on a larger scale and driven by the state of the business.

Thankfully, my value as an employee was enough to keep me on the roster — which was cause for an extra sigh of relief for me, if from nothing more than a timing standpoint. See, it will be three years ago this week that the zoo showed me the door and you know damn well I’d be looking to kick November coincidence in the big fat ass if I suddenly became gainlessly unemployed so close to that still-stinging anniversary.

But it got me thinking or perhaps opportunistically rationalizing my somewhat inexplicable extended swap of two wheels for four. With the vibe at work being rather depressing these last couple months, I’m curious if perhaps I sensed a change a-coming and subconsciously wanted to be able to make a quick getaway if the bell tolled for me?

Hard to say.

But the bell didn’t and I’m back in the saddle.

Two good things.

Sigh.

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The desk is cleared, the day is done and there’s a bike to ride home. The relief and satisfaction in putting another issue of my magazine to bed is grand. Too bad it only lasts until about tomorrow morning and then it’s back at it.

It’s disgusting that I went into the office yesterday at 2 p.m. to get caught up on work I’d been putting off until the last minute, and didn’t emerge to come home until 6:35 a.m. this morning. That’s right: 16.5 hours. No sleep, unless you count the 45 minute pass-out on the floor of my office because I couldn’t sit in my chair another second.

The good news is I’m decidedly not at all as behind as I was 16.5 hours earlier, and the bright side of all this is that I got home in about 23 minutes because the 405 to the 10 to the 110 to the 101 looked like this  the whole dang way:

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FTW!

So the great Silver Lake Reservoir draining is finally complete and the big water bowl is empty… until they get around to refilling it. All of its potentially toxic water has been flushed away through a series of subterranean tubes connecting to the Ballona Creek which pours onward into the Santa Monica Bay where the carcinogenic parts per million of all that bromate-tainted water will be diluted into inert nothingness, or an unexpected complex chemical reaction with the saltwater and the bacteria and the styrofoam and the plastic bags and the shopping carts and the gull shit and the hypodermics will ultimately create the monster for the three-quel to the coming sequel of “Cloverfield” who will then go on a rampage across the city. Could happen.

As the reservoir’s level has slowly lowered over the last 60 days, people have been either hopeful or apprehensive as to what might be revealed rusting and rotting away down there on the bottom, but there hasn’t been anything noted as of yet. Personally I know of one 27-year-old relic that’s down there somewheres, if it didn’t get swept down a pipe at some point in such a long interim. It’s a set of keys on a ring, one which I heaved over the fence into its southeastern waters one very early morning back in 1981.

The keys were to the Swensen’s Ice Cream Shoppe that used to be on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, across the street from and in between what used to be Fiorucci’s and RJ’s restaurant. I had worked at Swensen’s for a while during my first and second year at Beverly Hills High School, promoted to night manager before I was fired by the owner’s daughter — Desiree or Dell-something; who badly managed the place for her dad — for not being willing to hold some marijuana for her.

I turned in my keys, cleaned out my locker and collected my final paycheck. I stayed pissed off for awhile not just because I was out of a job, but also because Swensen’s had been the center of my social universe. To have both yanked away so unfairly was a good lesson to learn early but nonetheless a hard one.

A few months later I ended up getting a stockclerk job at the long-gone Hunters Books on Rodeo Drive and Little Santa Monica (they’re calling it Santa Monica South nowadays), but in that unemployed interim I helped my mom, by then a distributor for the Herald Examiner whose territory included Echo Park, Silver Lake and Los Feliz and Franklin Hills. On weekends I’d get up with her at 2 a.m., and together we’d go pick up all the papers at the Herald Examiner plant downtown, then deliver whatever routes were open or down and we’d get home around sunrise. During the week I’d often have to go across town after school on my little Yamaha Champ scooter and help with collections or customer complaints. Sometimes I’d drive the old 1965 Ford Mustang and cover paper routes solo, especially those in the steeper areas of Silver Lake and Echo Park, where paperboys never lasted.

I don’t remember how long it was after I was fired from Swensen’s that I found the spare “just in case” set of Swensen’s keys I’d had made on my own at some point after I’d been promoted to night manager. Maybe it was a couple days later or a couple weeks. However long it was, when I discovered them I immediately saw dollar signs and started plotting a little payback heist. Ultimately I decided to hit the place in the morning on my way to school. Come up Wilshire to the alley between Beverly and Rodeo at something like 7 a.m., enter through the back — it would be easy pickings. There was no alarm and no surveillance system. And knowing exactly where the money was kept after closing, I could be in and out without turning on a light in a minute, tops, and a couple hundred bucks richer. Maybe a little more if sales had been exceptionally good.

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