Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ann Patchett writes about trying to join the Los Angeles Police Department

WP:

Now I'd have the chance to understand what it was that my father had done all those years I wasn't in the house. I would relearn Los Angeles. I would drive up Elysian Park and spend my days at the academy, where as a child I had swum in the long blue pool shaded by eucalyptus trees, eaten tuna melts in the coffee shop with my father, and learned to shoot a revolver.

I was 30 years old, a semi-ancient age for pursuing police work. I had no idea if I could pass the long string of entrance exams.

"The wall is what keeps women out," my father told me. "The women protest; they say it's unfair, especially the short ones. The first thing you have to worry about is getting over the wall."

...

The last event was a 160-pound weight drag. Run 25 yards, tug a lead weight the size of two encyclopedias tied to a thick rope through deep, soft dust, backward for 25 yards. When it was my turn, the crowd went wild. I was the mascot now, the favorite girl. No sense in cheering for the two who'd never pass or the one who might beat your score. Cheer for the one who barely makes her time but somehow, miraculously, manages. I yanked the weight backward as the giant men began to chant my name, dragging one syllable into two until it became "Ay-un, Ay-un, Ay-un." It would never happen again; 26 broad-shouldered young men would never call my name at once