Friday, September 14, 2012

Hey Kids - What Time Is It

I would answer Howdy Doody Time but somehow I feel the the picture I am about to show, of the fine timepiece Fugazy looking watch I received as a retirement gift, might somehow belittle the memory of that show for far too many folks. The watch, a Selco Geneve, came in a rather subdued and drab gray box, the watch itself resting on a small pillow inside the box. On the face of it can be seen the U.S. Department of Homeland Security seal. On the back of it is noted the fact that the back is made from stainless steel. Nowhere to be found, at least y me, was the country of origin. You maybe would think that a watch given by the U.S. government would proudly display the words "Made in the USA" on it but I could not find that anywhere on my new ticker. My guess as to why those words are not evident is because I think the watch was probably made in China. A check of the Selco Geneve website and their "about" page revealed that the company manufactures watch faces in the US but I saw nothing noting that their watches were actually made here. If I ever discover that this watch was manufactured on foreign soil, I will take appropriate action with it, returning it to the government and telling them where to stick it (you can bet it will be into a place where the sun should never shine).

I also got a plaque and a letter of appreciation. I never expected anything else upon retirement, except maybe that I would have received these things at a retirement party. That would have happened but did not work out due, for the most part, to my health when I retired last November. Cancer sure has a way of screwing up one's plans. It sure would have been nice though to have received these items when the Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations handed out retirement plaques at a BBQ earlier this summer. I got a plaque then too, from the SAC, but nothing compared to the nice one from headquarters (the one I just got).He did not even shake my hand when he gave it to me. Hmm, maybe there was some friction there but since he only spoke about 10 words to me at most in the few years that he was SAC before I retired, I would not know with certainty. As for the plaque and watch and letter, I was told he had both plaques , the letter and the watch with him when he gave me only the less impressive of the two plaques at the BBQ. Oh well, I guess he had a lot on his one way mind, him suing his superiors for sexual harassment, or some something like that.

When it came down to it, I received the watch, the nicer of the two plaques and letter from my former Group Supervisor. Even though not given to me at a retirement event, my GS went out of his way to make the presentation nice, taking each out in turn and showing them to me and starting to read the inscription on the plaque and all and shaking my hand on giving them to me. Nice guy.

So now, I suppose I am officially retired and completely over and done with my career. Not a bad thing at all, every day now being another Saturday in Paradise. As for what I have to show for it, several other plaques and letters of commendation in a box out in my garage (or lost at sea for all I know, I lost track of where were those things when I was ill). I also have a lot of memories. I will cherish those, from the bad through the excellent ones, for what time I have left in life because you can rest assured those memories are in some way, shape or form connected to some of the nicest people whom I have met in my lifetime.

To my brother and sister agents in the U.S. Border patrol, where I spent my first 4 years plus of my career, I salute you. You have one of the toughest and most rewarding jobs within government service. To those with whom I worked in the now defunct U.S. Customs Service Tactical Patrol Division and Office of Investigations (those for about the next 20 years of my career), you can bet those times included some of the most memorable and best days of my career with some of the best work I ever had and some of the best people I have ever met. I have very fond memories of my time in the Currency Group and in the Joint Narcotics Smuggling Unit (JNSU)at JFK Airport and all of the special details I went on from being a volunteer Air Marshal for about 5 months to 90 day stints out in Arizona.

Also especially important to me was the time I spent as a firearms instructor. That was about 14 years, of collateral duties, helping to make sure that every night (or day depending on when you got stuck working) all of our agents would walk in the door at home to hear their spouses or loved ones ask something like: "How was work today" and they would be able to give the answer "Everything was fine, how are the kids just before checking on them in person". Making sure that each and every other one of us got home, during the course of performing our duties of protecting the nation, was one of the most important things we did for one another both as field agents or as firearms and tactics instructors at the range. I did plenty of both and will always those duties dearly. 

As for my final 8 plus years that I spent in the Department of Homeland Security, first under Customs, then under the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, then under Immigration and Customs Enforcement, then finally under Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), what can I say! George W. Bush really made a huge mistake when he dismantled The United States Custom Service and the Immigration & Naturalization Service and combined them under Homeland Security into the new agencies of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection. Yep, that you can blame squarely on Bush and his administration as opposed to the BS that Obama tries to blame on him.

ICE, including HSI, in my personal opinion, was and remains the most inept government agency ever to have been part of the U.S. government (with the possible exception of the Post Office), possibly the most egregious when it comes to rights violations, among the worst at protecting the nation from terrorism and in general protecting the interests of our country, is totally lost in a haze when it comes to the core mission it is supposed to accomplish (probably because no one in it seems to know that mission), and only has had inept boobs and assholes in charge of it to date. I think the only thing it truly has accomplished to date was the destruction of one of the finest investigative agencies that was ever part of the U.S. government - the United States Customs Service Office of Investigations.

As I have mentioned, a couple to a few times by now, there were some great people in all the agencies for which I worked and in those to which I had temporary assignments (like the Secret Service, Air marshals, Bronx District Attorney's office and so on). I was lucky to have met them and luckier yet to have formed bonds of friendship with some of them over the years. It did not matter if the agencies themselves sucked; that is so long as I knew I could depend on the guy next to me to cover my ass while I covered his should the shit hit the fan. Bonds formed in situations like that, where trust is everything, are some of the strongest you can form and whether or not you stay in touch with one another, you know, should you ever need them, they will be right there standing at your side making sure you get home to tuck the kids in once again.

There - there now. I feel much better, having spit that out, as my new retirement watch sits on my desk and ticks away with the wrong time set on it. The watch may turn out to be a good thing for a sale on Ebay, I doubt it is good for much else except maybe as a target when I am next at the range.

All the best,
Glenn B