Sunday, October 20, 2013

Game Warden Files--More Hunter Safety Interviews

Once I had the file--or maybe the right word is pile--of Hunter Safety Instructor applications down to a manageable size, I started to do things the way they was supposed to be done.  I'd pick an area of Brooklyn where I had several applicants and make phone calls until I had three or four appointments set up for an afternoon and/or evening.  I quickly found myself getting to know some the of the subcultures and and ethnic traits of some of the most enjoyable folks I'd ever met.  I found, for instance, that if I would be doing interviews in the Italian neighborhoods, I'd better not eat anything before I started--I'd be well over-stuffed before I got home.  Never did I go to an Italian home for one of these interviews when food and coffee was not only offered, but expected to be consumed--generally in rather large quantities.

It was in a Cuban home where got my very first cup of espresso coffee.  It was beautiful home in Brooklyn Heights, that looked like the neighborhood where Cliff Huxtable home in The Cosby Show was situated.   Though I'm now a pretty well-seasoned coffee drinker, that was the day I found what strong coffee was all about.  Not content to drink one cup, I innocently accepted a second one before the first one had achieved its full effect--and buzzed the rest of the day.  Even with all the Latin American coffee I've now consumed in many places, there has never been coffee that has hit me like that did.

One afternoon I had an interview scheduled in a large apartment complex in the Northern part of the borough which was a pretty rough part of town.  In the course of trying to find a suitable parking place for what was obviously a police car, I got into a series of one-way streets and ended up at what I remain convinced was four streets all ending at the same point with no way out.  A very tall, thin NYPD officer appeared, walked over to me with a smile and, bending almost completely over to see into my car, asked me "Sir, what are you doing HERE?"  He knew what the green uniform was, but had no idea what brought one into that neighborhood.  He got me to a safe parking place and I completed my assigned there.

These afternoons and evenings helped me learn my way around Brooklyn. It was while doing these interviews that I developed and honed the many people skills that have helped to make me an effective communicator in the many directions my life has taken me.  I also give credit--or blame, depending on the point of view--to my many conversations within the Italian culture to the fact that I often talk with my hand.  No one in my family recalls that I had done that so much before the days of those interviews.

Overall, I met some wonderful sportsmen doing these interviews, and a few folks whose applications would be marked DENIED in red ink.  One interview still disturbs me.  It was a guy who didn't want me to come to his home, had no place to conduct the classes and had never had a hunting license or any experience in the outdoors.  Most disturbing: He wanted to work with young kids.  I passed that information along through channels to the proper authorities so that he could be looked at.

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