The last post reminded me of another occasion from my previous life as a policeman. For a number of years I worked in the Witness Protection area of the police force and back in those days [I stress that it is no longer the case] we held the witnesses on isolated rural properties.

Most of these places had a single residence but were chosen to have several outbuildings where we coppers could live, eat and sleep, whilst we were locked up with the witness usually for a week at a time. You learn a lot about the blokes you work with in these circumstances. The hours are long and boring, there is no such thing as time off, there was often times that you had to respond to incidents even when you were technically stood down.

There was little to do except play cards, watch videos, or maybe play table tennis, when you weren’t sitting at a guard post or manning the radio. There were of course some people that absolutely rubbed you the wrong way, either because they went missing when things like cooking or dish washing needed to be done, or simply because they weren’t the type of person you would normally have wanted to spend time with.

I remember being woken by a shotgun blast one night which got us all scrambling for our weapons and falling out of bed responding to what we thought was an attack only to find that one of our colleagues had fallen asleep at his post with his finger inside the trigger and as he jerked forward he put a round through the roof of the verandah he was sitting on. Needless to say, he didn’t do another of these operations for a long time.

There was one guy that we insisted was put on permanent night shift, not because he wasn’t a good guy to have around, just that his snoring was the worst any of us had ever heard and given we were all sleeping, dormitory style in a shed, he was guaranteed to ensure that no one would get any sleep.

The sheds we were in were pretty spartan – concrete floor, tin walls and roof – freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in summer, and totally lacking any privacy. They also were not by any stretch of the imagination “critter proof”. Now we have some pretty big spiders over here and one of the most common is the huntsman. Everything I’ve read says that they can get up to 15 centimeters across, but I can tell you that I’ve seen some that have been closer to 25-30cm in my own backyard. And this particular shed was full of them.

One day, when our loudly snoring colleague was in bed sleeping, another of the guys came and got us and said “Come and have a look at this.”

We all crept into the shed and there he was the snorer, flat on his back, a large huntsman on his face, rising and falling slowly as he breathed in and out. What do you think we did?

The answer is in the comments 🙂


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