Well, I'm back at work, a day early, and there's lots of fodder for writin' on, but today's a non-maritime entry. Today I'm a talk about teh gunz.
OK, as most here know, I'm from Massachusetts. I live here, still, even though I've lived elsewhere, and mostly preferred elsewhere to here.
I moved to the town of Stoughton, MA, not for the scenery, not for the wide open spaces, or for the low crime rate. Stoughton has none of these things. I moved here because my wife is an immigrant, and Stoughton has a large Brazilian community, and, I being the traveling mariner that I am, I thought it best that my wife has the support of her own friends and family nearby while I'm not around. Plus, the language thing.
Anyhow, what with the town being pretty much a shithole, at least in comparison with other bedroom community suburbs of Boston, I thought it best that I get a handgun.
As a somewhat decent shot with a rifle, handguns aren't my forte. To maintain legal compliance, I attended an approved handgun safety class.
So, upon returning home after my last voyage, I checked with the Stoughton Police Department, and found that their licensing officer was available 4 days a week in the afternoons. So far so good.
I picked a day where I had a window of opportunity of about an hour between running errands and picking up my son at his schoolbus stop. I arrived at the Stoughton police station, found a parking spot and waded into a small crowd of pimpled teens dressed shittily but identically, attempting to be non-conformists, I guess.
I wait in line between a miserable looking teen and a very angry and vocal old lady. So be it. No one goes to the cop shop smiling.
The kid is in some kind of trouble, and is turning himself in, from what I can gather. The old lady is completely pissed off about the traffic accident she caused. I know this because the watch officer is behind 2 inches of bulletproof glass, purpose-built, I suppose, but giving the impression that the cops are squatting in an old inner-city bank. Communication is done prison-style, by shouting at a microphone. So I get to learn that the kid in front of me is a fuckup, and I am scared by the old lady, so I let her go, not wanting to shout to the crowd that I want guns, dammit.
Oh, the crowd. Yes, there was a crowd there. There were the pimply-faced, shittily dressed kids. A 'scared straight' program, I think. Whatever, the kids were all glaring and grumbling and cussing, and I repeatedly patted my pocket to make sure that my wallet was there.
So, I get to run the gauntlet of misanthropic law-breakers of all ages, and come to the counter at last. The officer at the window is polite, but the poor prick's mouth hangs open like he's a venus fly trap when he's not talking. Not a good sign when the officer of the watch is a mouth-breather. Whatever, maybe he had hay fever or something. Anyhow, I try to quietly tell him that I'm there to apply for a concealed carry permit.
Anyhow, had I known that this would open up a little space around me, I would have farted beforehand to let the crowd get a running start. I now have my 3-foot bubble back, anyhow.
The cop takes my driver's license asks me to wait, and disappears.
Now, when I say disappear, I mean, he's gone. As in no one's at the window. For about 10 minutes. Then the guy returns, refuses to look at me, and goes about his business. Whatever, we live next to Brockton, MA, and Stoughton is conveniently located to give the massive criminal population of Brockton a short commute home after stealing your car, or shooting someone. I'm sure the cops are busy.
BUT, 45 minutes later, I'm nervous. The guy with my license won't look up or respond to my polite waves through the window so I can ask whether or not I'm waiting to meet with someone or merely to be a convenient host for the Impetigo that I'm sure I am being exposed to by the tides of humanity's dregs.
Fuck it, I slap the glass a few times, and shout "Hello!" in a semi-polite loud fashion. The mouth-breather looks up. Angels rejoice, I have been noticed! And I back down off my high horse, unfortunately, merely saying that I've been sitting forever, and I don't know who or what I'm waiting for, but I need my license so I can go get my kid. The guy holds up the #1 finger (believe me, I was looking for which one was up. I don't like being dicked around, and I am feeling the fickle tickle of finger #11 at this point)
It takes 5 minutes for the guy to get up, walk 15 feet around the big glass wall and hand me my license. Ironically, I now have to speed down the streets to beat the bus to the bus stop so my 6-year old doesn't get a commemorative photo on a milk carton. So, I break the law, having just tried to abide by it.
Next day... more or less the same thing. I wait one hour, ask some more questions ("The Lieutenant is with someone"), and get a little more brave (By which I mean I say "The sign says to be here Monday to Thursday at this time. This is my second day here at this time") in wondering why I can't be seen.
Then the answer hits me. I'm not a criminal. If I had said "Hello, I've got a dozen hookers in my trunk and need to locate a bag of lime, a pickaxe and a mining helmet," I suppose I'd have gotten the guy behind the window to help. But no, I'm not one of those people who breaks the law. I just want some protection from those people, and, since the officers of the Stoughton PD have a fine tradition of turning state's evidence against each other in order to avoid jail time, I suppose I should understand that I'm a low-priority case.
Anyhow, here's a nice 3rd-finger salute for the Stoughton, MA police department: Of the criminals, by the criminals, for the criminals, you can't do anything right, and that includes helping the shrinking segment of the population who are actually there to uphold the law, as opposed to violating it...