Sunday, June 2, 2013

Game Warden Files--Staten Island, part 3

One of the new guys out of the academy was John.  He was only in the region a couple weeks when he went back to the academy again for Defensive Tactics Instructor school.  He was young, eager to work hard, and fun to work with.  Early on with John we were out on the water in New York Harbor in the Mako and saw one of our local lobstermen tending a pot line about a half mile off the sea wall along Brooklyn's Promenade.  This lobsterman, though not a bad guy, was something of a bandit--as were most of them.  At that time, the big issue in the harbor was undersized lobsters.  We always assumed that they were being sold to either neighbors or small restaurants in the lobstermens' neighborhoods, as they never seemed to make the major markets.
I'd caught this guy once before at the dock as he was off-loading about 200 short lobsters, so after we'd watched him long enough to see that he wasn't throwing anything overboard, so we assumed we'd find him "holding shorts."  Our boat was readily identifiable, so our method of approach was to disappear for a while, hide behind a larger vessel going in the direction of our suspect boat and then appear from behind it to make our surprise visit. It usually worked pretty well.
All went pretty well actually.  We ran a few miles out to sea and got lost among some inbound tankers and freighters.  We got down in the wake of a rather fast moving freighter and waited until we were in what we thought would be the right place to make our move.  I hit the throttles, pointed the bow over the wake and as we crested the peak of it saw the lobster boat RIGHT THERE!  Apparently he'd move off the line he'd been working and was now on another one.  So, here we were, surfing down the other side of the wake on a collision course with a much larger boat.  I put the throttles in full reverse, and as my mind recorded the scene in slow motion, the wake passed beneath both boats, bringing our deck on the level of the the lobster boat, John stepped very gently aboard the lobster boat, with all the workers busily pulling pots on the other side.  I blew the siren to let them know they'd been boarded, and disappeared behind the wake as it passed beneath me.  I can only imagine the minds of the lobstermen when they heard the siren, turned around and had seen ECO's standing on the deck of their boat, with only a wall of water behind him.  Where did he come from?
After the wakes had fully passed, I circled back to the lobster boat and found John calmly talking with the lobstermen.  After a complete check of the boat, he'd found them to be totally in compliance.  All that hard work for no violation; but I'm sure those lobstermen were always looking behind them after that!

Game Warden Files--Staten Island, part 2

We quickly grew to love our life on Staten Island.  We found Bethel Evengelical Free Church and quickly became embedded into it.  It is still home to us in many ways.  Peggy did some office work for the pastor and made some great friends there so she was comfortable.  It was also close to New Jersey where we had some friends from her childhood.  They were now within about an hour's drive, closer than they'd ever been. By the time we moved there, I'd become the senior--no, make that the only--ECO in the region.  I was now the game warden for the entire city.  There was a captain, a lieutenant, and me.  Everyone had either transferred out or was in the academy along with the replacements for those who had transferred out.  I got to run all five boroughs of the city.  Actually, one day I did answer complaints in all five boroughs of the city!  In spite of the overload, it was fun.  I got to know a little of the culture and geography in each of the areas.  When the new guys all came out of the academy, I got to do the break-in for most of them also, that also took me to all over the city.  It was a time of great exploration.
Staten Island also brought me another boat.  I'd had the 31 footer in Brooklyn, and now I had a 19 foot Mako with twin 75 horsepower outboards.  I was also about the only officer who could operate the big boat, so I still ran that quite often, also.
One part of myself that I discovered while on Staten Island was that I'd finally grown into myself.  I was confident, competent and had become a good communicator.  I started to realize this when I went to open an account with the local fuel company and was turned down because I was a renter and not a home owner. I was offered the chance to speak to the owner of the company, a very down to earth gentleman who looked over my application while we spoke.  We talked about many things: the nature of my job, which interested him; the nature of society; even the fact that I had once delivered fuel oil and serviced furnaces for a living, including that I'd had to collect before delivering on all too many occasions.  After a few minutes of pleasant conversation, he smiled, told the girls behind the counter to give me an open account and thanked me for my time.  I found that if I took the time to let people know what I was about, they were far more likely to be trusting and agreeable to my desires.   My supervisor, Jim Molenelli noticed that ability in me also.  He once commented that he was surprised the city had not yet made a personal exit for me on the West Shore Expressway, since it did run right by my house.


Yeah, I've been slacking lately.  It's just been such a crazy spring.  We've been plagued by weather delays in getting both our yard ready and our summer business, Grandview Mini Golf, up and running.  Mowers have broken down, our weed-whacker fell apart in my hands, the pressure washer couldn't handle the pressure and seized up...yeah. it's been one of those seasons. Even after getting things ready, the weather was so bad that we lost most of Memorial Day weekend, which should have given us a nice start to the year.
 Rather than complain, however, I've looked at Oklahoma and other weather ravaged areas.  We have friends and relatives in some areas being hit with tornadoes, a friend in Canada is being dispatched to fight wildfires...yeah, we have it pretty good here.

The weed whacker and mower will get fixed, meanwhile a good neighbor brought over his monster: a commercial 32 inch walk behind that's just too big for him to run effectively.  It does the job nicely and gets me some exercise to keep off the extra size.  We bought a new pressure washer to clean up mini-golf and maybe get the house cleaned up too this summer.  Everything we've lost can be replaced. We'll have some good days at mini-golf this summer...yeah, we've got it pretty good here.

Maybe I'll even get a chance to catch up on some writing; and then again, maybe not.