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A day in the life of a policeman

Paul Williams is a policeman and he is very happy in his job. He thinks it's useful and interesting. He has been a policeman for ten years and now he's a sergeant, but he often thinks of his first two years in the force and laughs at some of the things that happened to him.

For the first two years of his career a policeman is "on probation"; in other words, his superior officers watch his progress closely to see whether he's going to be a suitable police officer. After his first nine months in the force, Paul was thinking of giving up. He just couldn't get used to the hours he had to work: early turn from six till two, late turn from two till ten, or, worst of all, night shift from ten till six. But the work was sometimes exciting. The most exciting day of Paul's two years of probation was a hot day in the middle of May. At one forty-five in the afternoon Paul was sitting round a table with his colleagues, waiting for his orders.

Sergeant Hawkins gave Paul his orders last because the men were dealt with in alphabetical order. "Hawkeye", as the men called him, was a grandfather and treated all the youngpolicemen as boys.

Sgt. Hawkins    I think I'll give you a change, Williams.
Paul            Thank you, sergeant.
Sgt. Hawkins    As you probably know, there have been a lot
                of petty thefts from houses in Faversham Street
                over the last few months.
Paul            That's the street where I was born.
Sgt. Hawkins    Is it? Good. Well, you're to keep an eye on the
                street this afternoon and report by phone if
                you see anything suspicious. Understand?
Paul            Yes, sergeant.

Paul was told to wear civilian clothes so that he would not be noticed. He decided to watch from the gardens opposite Faversham Street so that he could walk about without attracting attention.

At the end of each hour he phoned the police station to report to Sergeant Hawkins. At the end of four hours he had eaten six ice-creams, smoked twenty cigarettes, and walked round the park about fifty times. He was beginning to get very bored. At six o'clock he was relieved by another police officer so that he could go and get something to eat.

It was nearly half past eight before anything happened. It was beginning to get dark and he could just see three rather suspicious looking men talking near some bushes at the far end of the park. Paul decided to wait and see what happened next. A few minutes later one of the men walked quietly from the bushes towards the road. Still Paul waited. The man looked around, opened the front gate of number 21 Faversham Street and walked round to the back of the house. Paul decided it was time to do something. Using a short cut that he'd known as a boy, he got to the back of the house just in time to see the man trying to climb through the windows. This is it, thought Paul. He saw himself being "congratulated by the chief constable and even being praised by old Hawkeye. He stepped forward.
Author: Alan Townend