My title was “Investigative Aid”. In truth, I was a glorified secretary ….. At the time, I was “being groomed” for Inspector but all I did was research and gathering records together, …. the clerical work of laying out the case …… until I opened my mouth again.
They’d perceived that I’d stepped out of line. Looking back, they were the ones out of line! I should have been the whistle-blower!
Inspector Head came into the office with the only black Inspector in the Midwest Region laughing at what George was reading. George was showing the new black Inspector the ropes. A couple others were there too – it was too long ago.
Inspector Head, the fair-haired boy of the Midwest Region, the Inspector with the best record in the nation of convictions on fraud by mail, and his new prodigy, came through the door. As they entered he continued reading sitting in their easy chairs in the outer office, where I was working.
Soon everyone in the room was in tears, laughing so hard, we could barely breathe. After a half an hour of this – reading out of this manuscript, he looked up – realizing how late it was. Everyone was catching their breath, as George said, “Let’s grab lunch.” He looked to me, “join us; you’re enjoying this too.”
“I’d like to, but I ate early,” I explained, “I had an appointment.”
“O.K.; catch you later,” they began to leave.
I should’ve kept quiet; I couldn’t resist; my sense of humor resented not hearing more. I asked ….. “wait; wait; what’s the name, ….. of the book?”, nodding at the thick manuscript. “That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in years! I’ll buy it when it comes out.” He mentioned the author’s name – a man he’d put in prison – fraud – selling home-installed vacuum cleaner systems and advertising via the mail.
Still smiling, assuming he’d tell me …. I figured it would eventually be in print it was so funny.
He held it up and replied (jokingly, I thought), “You’ll never see this in print! We confiscated all 13 copies; the other 12 are in the incinerator downstairs, as we speak. This one joins it after lunch!” He gleamed.
I thought sure he was kidding. I realized later, he’d been bragging. He was that arrogant.
“Come on, come on” I said; “we’re not in Nazi Germany, it’s gonna be a great book, in spite of who wrote it!”
Well, with those few words ….. referencing Nazi Germany, my career with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service was over, right then and there! Within 15 minutes, I was ordered to clear out my desk and move down the hall, to work for Inspector Cable.
Inspector Cable tracked mail that was sorted in railroad cars – a dead end job if there ever was one. He was nearing retirement; even the RPS clerks (Railway Postal Service – postal clerks that rode the Rail cars) knew their time was limited.
Until then, I had been one of the ‘up and coming young guys’ – one of those being groomed along with others for the job of Postal Inspector, but I’d stepped over that invisible line and found myself “transferred” – within minutes of my statement. Looking back, I’m amazed I never felt the building shake with expletives.
Open mouth, insert all my appendages! I’ve become better at that as I’ve aged.
Later that week, I was told, not to indirectly, that ‘I’d be better off going back to the Post Office and taking the promotion that I’d passed up to transfer into the U. S. Postal Inspection Service’ – that my career there, ‘was going nowhere!’
There’s more to the story; that’ll be in my book.
I wish I’d had the intestinal fortitude to expose this then, but that was Chicago, … and Chicago was corrupt; everyone knew it. I imagine it’s worse now ….. In my estimation, on a scale of 1 to 10, …. only New Orleans and D.C. rank higher!