Right Of Passage

 What is the right of passage? First, I am reminded of a motto I read many years ago, "As the twig bends so grows the tree."

  Hazleton had what was called the "Perk System" and developed quite harmlessly in the beginning. Many years ago, the police were not paid much money. They were required to purchase their own uniforms and weapons. Incredulous? Don't think so? As time went on they received higher wages and such, as one group of articles mid 1960's reflected to curb the tendency of police "begging" for handouts.

  As a show of gratitude, a merchant would, as a gift, donate something to a police officer. On a cold night, walking the beat, stop in a local restaurant and get a free cup of coffee and a donut. Yes, at first, very harmless. The merchant next door hands out a few shirts for the family. And so on. Slowly, the mentality of the police transformed this into a right of passage crap. Now expected, demanded by presence.

  For years, before I went into business, not only was this common knowledge in town but witnessed it first hand, as many did, to the point just part of another day. I mean, my late father as a school teacher, had to pay around $3,000 dollars to get a job with the Hazleton School District. I remember a few times how he said that he had to buy Mr. XXXXXXX's wife a new car to get a job. (Name reserved for now.) He was not the only teacher or civil service employee to dish out money under the table. That was Hazleton politics.

  When I first went into business I had no reservation in playing the extortion game, to a point. Example: while operating a foreign car shop, I also operated a State Inspection Station. Back then inspection stickers cost me 25 cents each. Hey, Mr. Cop, wife's car need a sticker? No problem, fifteen minutes of paperwork, here, shove the sticker in your pocket, take it home and put it on yourself. I don't need to inspect the vehicle, after all, you're a cop, I'll take you word. Bullshit. Right? Part of the routine doing business in Hazleton.

  First starting out in business I was fresh meat. Phone forever ringing as someone looking for favors. Free oil change? Rotate tires? Donate $50, $100 dollars to the policeman's uniform fund or Fraternal Order? No problem.

  But they wanted more. Free transmission work. I mean they expected me to purchase the transmission and install it free or some other type of expensive work. It got to a point I told them all what they could do. I was bad. I violated the sacred right of passage.

  Not only do I have a good memory but I kept records. Example? It was so retarded. The same cop that came to my business in the morning for a free this or that would, while on duty, in the afternoon, would drive by a second time to give me a ticket. What was said? "I really don't want to...I'm only following orders...nothing personal." (Shortly will give a list of who had their hand out.)

  Brief for now. More in a few days.



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Updated: 11-26-2001