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Brownsville Customs assignment . . .

Before I begin this dissertation, please allow me to digress with an explanation of supervisory titles in the US Custom Service. A first level supervisor is equivalent to a captain in the military, equal in pay and responsibilities, and wears the twin silver bars of a captain in the military. A second level supervisor is equivalent to a major in the military and wears gold oak leaves on the uniform. Chief inspectors and port directors are usually the equivalent of a lieutenant colonel in the military and wear silver maple leaves when in uniform. Many Customs port directors have higher grades and have the option of wearing uniforms or civilian garb—most opt for civilian dress.

Program officers at Headquarters also have the pay and similar responsibilities of lieutenant colonels in the military, and unless involved in some field action requiring the uniform, normally wear civilian garb. The pay and responsibilities of program managers at headquarters are also similar to the duties and responsibilities of a full colonel in the military. The comparisons to military personnel continue up to the pay and responsibilities equal to the grade of a four-star general.

During my 26-year career in federal law enforcement I had the misfortune—oops, I meant the good fortune—of serving US Customs for several years at the Brownsville, Texas port of entry located at the tip of Texas, opposite the city of Matamoros, Mexico. I began my career at the port of Progreso and I was promoted to a first level supervisory position at the port of Roma. After two and one-half years there I was again promoted and transferred to the port of Brownsville, Texas some 125 miles down river from Roma. Click here for a posting on Progreso.

My position at Brownsville was that of a second level supervisor, one of two such officers responsible for supervising a staff of three administrative persons, six first level supervisors and a staff of sixty senior, journeyman and trainee inspectors. I performed my duties under the watchful eyes of the chief inspector and a racially and professionally biased port director, and I was the favorite target for any person that lodged a complaint against management, regardless of the source.  Those activities were dictated and urged on by the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). Near the end of my tour at Brownsville, the Chief Inspector left my side and joined in the target practice.

A friendly journeyman told me that NTEU had directed the local Union Steward to have every grievance addressed to me, regardless of the supervisor involved—I was one of nine supervisors, yet all complaints came to me to be investigated and the results forwarded to upper levels including national headquarters, whether resolved or unresolved. The same friendly inspector said that every meeting of the Union members, whether locally or at District or Regional Headquarters, began with a request for input on me and on my actions.

Just as an aside, the Port Director and the Chief Inspector have since been arbitrarily transferred to that shining Port of Entry in the sky—a headquarters directed assignment, so to speak—and one may be reasonably certain that a significant number of the journeyman inspectors have joined them—some were quite advanced in age, and I left Brownsville 27 years ago. I can truthfully say that at this stage of life I hold no rancor for any of them—well, okay, perhaps a trace of rancor for the Port Director!

In spite of the onslaught of arrows (employee complaints) fired at me, none struck a vital organ. To paraphrase William Faulkner in his acceptance speech in 1950 for the Nobel Prize in literature, I did not merely endure—I prevailed. My actions and my decisions were upheld by mid-level and top-level management in every instance. The grievances filed numbered in the hundreds—none was resolved in favor of the complainant, neither by me nor by someone in the upper echelons. Most of the grievances stemmed from my efforts to reduce inspector overtime in accordance with instructions from upper level management given to me prior to assuming my duties there. Misuse of overtime was rife at that location, and my success was in inverse proportion to the number of grievances—as overtime declined, grievances increased.

The pay was good and there was no heavy lifting, so I stalwartly bided my time. I successfully withstood the onslaught for three and one-half years, from April of 1980 to October of 1983, and once again was promoted and transferred to US Customs Headquarters in Washington, DC as a program officer. Halfway through my three year tour in Washington I was assigned the title and assumed the duties of Program Manager for Customs’ National Canine Enforcement Program, and therein lies some tales to be told. Click here for an example of my duties, a tour of canine operations in California. This is just a teaser with more stories to follow, so stay tuned.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2010 in bridge, law enforcement, Military

 

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Reflections of a Chihuahua named Bimbo . . .

Reflections of a Chihuahua . . .

She was a German Shepherd and she was beautiful, so beautiful that I was immediately drawn to her. I was attracted by her looks, but there was also a strong aura about her, a heady odor like fine perfume, an aura to which I was irresistibly drawn—I was incapable of resisting it. However, she took umbrage at my attempt to exercise my right to conduct an olfactory examination of her you-know-what-and-where, a highly sensual and sensitive area that normally would be readily presented to a dashing male such as I, one with a highly sensual, sensitive and inquiring nose.

At the first sniff she spun around and smiled—at least I thought it was a smile, but it was accompanied by a sound remarkably similar to a snarl—in fact she was snarling, and I realized that I had bitten off more than I could chew—so to speak. The lady was taller, longer, stronger, wider and heavier than I, and I realized that my rejection and my defeat were inevitable, so I dropped and rolled over on my back, presenting my soft underbelly, a universal practice among the canine genus. Such a move was a sign of surrender, and any self-respecting canine would acknowledge that action and desist from ripping said underbelly from stem to stern. I was duly rewarded by her response—she stopped snarling and with a slight smile began a non-offensive visual—and olfactory—survey of the area I had presented for the coup de grace.

Please note: That is not me in the picture above—the photographer just used him to stand in for me. I’m brown and white and I’m much—well, I’m much cuter and I’m a lot bigger, if you get my drift! And the picture above him is not the beautiful lady—that’s the Big Guy, the one that did me in.

The object of my affections abruptly began laughing, uncontrollable laughter, actually falling and rolling in the dust, making no attempt to conceal her mirth. At first nonplussed, I came to the realization that I had inadvertently displayed more than my vulnerability. I had also exposed my essentials to her view, hence her dissolution into gales of laughter—no, it was not disillusion rather than dissolution—admittedly a fine distinction but applicable. At this point, I must inform the reader that, for a Chihuahua, I was remarkably well—let’s see, what’s the past tense of the verb to hang? Yeah, that’s it—that’s what I was!

The reason for her laughter was simply the contradiction of my essentials relative to my size. The truth is that when my Maker made me, He made my essentials first and then hung the rest of me on them—got it? I was well-known around the neighborhood, and for good reason!

When the Big Guy, a full-grown male German Shepherd arrived on the scene I immediately sprang to my feet and attacked, realizing that in some battles surprise is tantamount to victory. However, the battle was over in a few seconds—just one giant chomp by the Big Guy and I was soon en route to the vet, in a state of shock but feeling very little pain, and soon after my arrival I was free of pain and in another world, detached from my former world but still aware of it.

I seemed to be hovering above the doctor and the man and the young girl that took me there, the same folks that I had lived with since my birth some seven years earlier, except for several months that I lived with another family after I climbed our backyard fence and went exploring. I had a good life with my family—they even took me with them on vacations—none of that vet boarding for me! Click here to read about a memorable vacation I took with my family—it’s well worth the visit and the read! It’s all about Chihuahuas, ham hocks and butter beans.

I followed Mike and Kelley to their car and stayed with them while they took a long drive through the countryside, moving at a slow speed, neither of them speaking and both crying. My tears also flowed freely—at least I felt like I was crying, but I was not sad—I could see the beautiful place that lay ahead in my future and I looked forward to being there—no more standing at the patio doors pretending to be freezing on the hottest day of the year, hoping I would be allowed to come in so I could pee on the living room carpet. I learned early that the shivering act would bring almost immediate relief from the Texas heat.

Listen up, everybody! There is a place called Rainbow Bridge. You can Google it if you don’t believe me, but for those that may not have a computer and those that are too busy to bother Googling, I’ll furnish a precise description of Rainbow Bridge below. I’m there now and I’m happy, but always on the lookout for certain people—they know who they are, and I know we will be together again—they have to come through here—it’s a requirement for entry into their ultimate destination. And they need to know that I’m here with Sambo, Hammer Head, Phu, Tuffie, Yuki, Mikki, Dumas Walker, Annie, Callie, Tee, Shiloh, Heidi and Buster and several others—their names escape me for the moment—we’re all here waiting, and in the meantime we’re having a ball!

That’s my story, Reflections of a Chihuahua named Bimbo, and I’m sticking to it!

Signed: Bimbo, the well “- – – -” Chihuahua

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together . . .

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2010 in death, pets, religion

 

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