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A Journey to the Center of the Mind, Book II – The Police Officer Years


James R. Fitzgerald

(In the middle of all the BPD political nonsense, I finally had a real-life job interview in

the private sector. Actually, several of them, all with the same company. It was going well, very

well. Even with the forthcoming two Martini lunch dilemma. It all played out accordingly…or

did it?)

Bonus Chapter 46b

As the reader may have gleaned by now, much could be learned in pre-internet days from

the Sunday newspaper. This would certainly include potential educational and professional

opportunities for anyone so interested. Already on separate occasions in the early to mid-1980s

I was made aware through a newspaper’s classified section of two different schools which

ultimately played a prominent role in my youngish life. Villanova University graduate school

was the first one. CIST was the second. (The former was a means to a long-term end; the latter

a means to a short-term end.)

Besides schooling, the occasional occupational possibility also surfaced in the newspaper

a few times for me during this timeframe. One of these instances was in March of 1985, at the

same time I was struggling through all the other happenings in my life, from BPD disciplinary

issues, meeting with politicians, retaining a lawyer, part-time teaching gigs, grad school classes,

my regular everyday patrol sergeant duties, not to mention dad and husband duties as well as the

random appearance of some serious headaches. Regardless of all of these varied spinning plates
I was balancing, I continued in this multi-tasking mode by not only coming across the

professionally provocative want-ad in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer, but also following-up

on it the very next day.

The ad itself was found under the heading of “Security” and was written in minimalist

fashion. It didn’t say much more than something to the effect of “Large Philadelphia area based

pharmaceutical company looking for Security Manager at one of its local facilities. Interested

candidates should mail their resumes to Mr. Secor, PO Box_______.” The address in the ad did

not include the name of an actual company. It was essentially a “blind” ad, at least in terms of

the commercial establishment’s name.

So…knowing the company name or not, where/how do I fit in with this particular

potential opportunity?

Let’s see…I don’t really have any actual security experience except of the retail variety

from my one year-plus in the downtown Philadelphia department store. But hey, I’ve been a

police officer for eight years, I supervise other officers, I’m working on a grad degree, etc. That

must be good for something in the “Security Manager” world. This ad doesn’t provide much

information, but maybe I should just send my resume anyway to the vague address of the

phantom pharma company and see what happens. What do I have to lose?

Convincing myself that I didn’t have anything to lose, I mailed off my resume, with a

cover letter, on the very next afternoon.

It took about a week, but lo and behold, I received a phone call one afternoon from an

individual who identified himself as the Security Director of Wyeth Laboratories, Inc. We’ll call

this man Mr. Secor. (Not his real name.) Mr. Secor went on to describe that Wyeth Labs, a
subsidiary of the much larger Wyeth Pharmaceutical Company, had an opening for security

manager at one of its smaller med and pill producing facilities in Delaware County (the county to

the immediate southwest of Philadelphia). This new manager would answer directly to him (Mr.

Secor) and be responsible for all the daily operations involving the exterior and interior security

of the facility, supervising a contingent of uniformed security guards, as well as conducting

various risk management and internal investigations when needed.

“Okay,” I responded to Mr. Secor, “I can do that.”

Well, not in those exact words, but something to that effect. After all, I wanted to present

a positive image and a “can-do” attitude to this man, my POTENTIAL new boss. We talked a

bit more about my background and my present job (naturally, for now, leaving out the ongoing

political and harassment issues at the BPD), but mostly about this new position at Wyeth Labs.

Eventually during our conversation, Mr. Secor let me know that I was one of several

candidates in contention for the job. He then asked if I would be available to have an in-person

interview with him in the next week. I had my squad schedule in front of me and after

comparing our respective timetables over the next seven days we picked a time and a date to

meet. The interview would be at the actual Wyeth facility where the security manager position

was to be filled. It wasn’t Mr. Secor’s office location as he was at their not-too-far-away

corporate headquarters, but he wanted to give me the opportunity to undertake a brief tour of the

place and in doing so get a fuller picture of what the position entailed.

So, it was set. A week or so from the date of this phone call I’d be taking the first step to

my new position, my new title, heck, my new profession and new life. I felt very good about this

phone call, the introductory interaction with Mr. Secor, and the good vibes which resulted from
it. I later shared these positive vibes with my wife, Eileen, and she was excited about this

opportunity too.

“But wait! We gotta slow down here,” I remember saying out loud to Eileen over dinner

that evening. There is still a whole lot that has to happen first for any such position to be offered

to me. It’s the proverbial one step at a time here, so let’s take it slow, and let’s think about all of

this as each individual step is taken. Mostly, let’s think about how to best further impress Mr.

Secor, the Security Director of Wyeth. I apparently did it once on paper with my resume, and

for a second time on the phone during a relatively short conversation. The third time will be in

person. And I know what that means.

Yes, it’s prep time!

Much as in preparing for my several CIST courses, I needed to access a library. This

time though, I drove to the Villanova University library. It was a scheduled day off from the

BPD, and I had a class there that evening anyway (it was a Statistics course this semester), so I

figured it would make the most sense, time-wise, to make Villanova the place to do this prep


Upon arriving on campus that afternoon, before hitting my own books to study for an

exam later that evening, I spent the first hour doing research on Wyeth Labs. With the various

business-oriented books in the reference section of the library, I spent the next hour learning

everything I could about the company including its history, its net worth, the number of

employees, its various locations, who’s in charge, what meds/pills they produce, and the like. I

also looked up everything I could about the specific facility with the actual job opening. I must

have taken a total of four or five pages of handwritten notes before I was done this part of my
prep for the day. I felt I eventually I had enough info and intel, certainly for the upcoming initial

interview, so I put the notes away in the back of my school book and commenced studying for

the exam scheduled for just a few hours later.

My course prep paid off. I knew I did well in my Stat exam that evening. Now my hope

was to do the same with my next “test.” That is, the Wyeth Labs interview with Mr. Secor in a

few days.

Upon my arrival that day for the interview, I could see the Wyeth facility itself consisted

of several large buildings, on fifty or so acres of ground, all surrounded by an eight-foot high

chain-link fence. I could also see the uniformed security officers on the premises too, including

at their manned front gate. Almost to the designated minute, Mr. Secor met me in the lobby at

the main entrance to the facility. It didn’t take me long to clearly see that he was a friendly,

well-spoken man in his mid-40s, in good physical shape, and with a very corporate look about

him. As I was wearing my best dark suit, with a new starched white shirt and stylish tie, along

with freshly polished black shoes, I felt I had the corporate look too, even if only within my own

little cop-world at present.

After following the Security Director through a locked door, up a flight of stairs, and

through a labyrinth of hallways, we settled into a modern, glass-enclosed, mid-sized conference

room. Mr. Secor sat at the head of the large table in the room and I sat at the first seat to his left.

“Okay, Jim,” I recall saying to myself, “this is where it really begins. It’s one-on-one,

face-to-face, man-to-man, potential employee-to-potential employer… and you can do it. Take a

deep breath and show him who and what you are.”

And so it began….
Mr. Secor started the interview by providing me with additional information about Wyeth

Labs and its parent company. It then progressed to details regarding the facility in which we

were sitting, about the position itself, and what would be expected of the new Security Manager

once he’s hired. I listened attentively. When the time was right, I contributed to the discussion

by adding some of the “facts” I had learned concerning Wyeth from my research of a few days

earlier. I slowly built upon these carefully articulated topics and issues by then asking Secor a

few questions which I deemed pertinent and germane as they related to the company as well as

the position. He answered each of my questions and even added once or twice as a preface,

“Good question, Jim.” That was reassuring to hear. I guess my prep and research was paying


As we moved along in my interview that day, Mr. Secor volunteered a bit more about

himself. He told me he had been with Wyeth for about five years. Prior to that, he spent twelve

years in the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), attaining a supervisory position of some sort while


Hmmm…that’s interesting. One didn’t too often hear then (or even now) of a member of

one of the elite federal law enforcement agencies leaving their jobs at the approximate halfway

point of their career. But, for whatever reason or reasons, Secor left the USSS when he did for

reasons which made sense to him. I was sure there was no problems or “baggage” connected to

his departure. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been hired by a company as large and successful as

Wyeth for a job as important as their Security Director.

Of course, Secor’s reasoning for leaving the USSS may have been as simple as it being

for a higher yearly salary, a better benefits package, less travel, and/or perhaps living closer to

his home. That would have made perfect sense. And, regarding the topic of salary, it was he
who first broached that issue regarding THIS job. I was going to ask him before I left the office

that day, but since he brought it up….

The Security Director advised me toward the end of our time at the conference table that

the yearly starting salary for the position of Security Manager at this particular Wyeth facility

was $35,000. In 1985, that was probably about $2,000 more than I was making at the BPD. He

added though, after a few years, and if everything was progressing normally, with annual raises

and even bonuses, my salary could easily go to $45,000 per annum, if not higher. The overall

benefits package he described to me was very good too. I nodded my head, took some notes in

my nice leather-bound former CID notebook, and thanked him for that information.

I didn’t focus at that time on the pay or benefits though. Not yet. I was told to never do

that during an initial job interview. Get the basics, of course, but don’t do any negotiating or nit-

picking while at this very early stage. Quite frankly, as it was a Monday to Friday job, with

relatively normal 9-5 working hours, most legal holidays off, two weeks of vacation time to start,

and me already getting a $2K raise over what I was now making at the BPD, I had no reason to

challenge the salary/benefits package. I’d discuss this subject again with the Director, if

necessary, as we’re closing the deal…if it comes to that.

After the hour or so formal interview, we went for a twenty-minute tour of the main

portion of the facility. It was interesting and actually eye-opening to walk through the factory-

like setting of the facility and watch thousands of multi-colored pills and other meds fly down

separate beltlines from one end of the building to the other. Somehow, they all wound up in

small pill bottles, which next were sent through a labeling machine, with each one eventually

finding itself inside a smaller individual box and then into a larger cardboard shipping box at the

end of the multiple conveyer belts. There were numerous employees, all dressed in white, all
wearing masks and hats and gloves, monitoring the whole operation. However, none of them I

recalled, ever actually touched any of the meds. That was by design, I guessed out loud. I also

guessed out loud that IF the pills were touched for some reason by an employee, to include being

stolen, that was at least one of the responsibilities of the Security Manager. Secor responded that

I had guessed right on both counts.

The Director and I exited the factory area and found ourselves back in the lobby where

we first met, having come full circle through the facility. With the interview now officially over,

and as I was about to leave the Wyeth property, Secor advised me that he’d call me in the next

week or two regarding what may be the next step in this process. I shook his hand, thanked him,

and off I went. Driving home that afternoon, I recall feeling that it was a productive interview

and that I handled myself well. I was confident, but not cocky, that Secor evaluated it and me in

the same way.

My cautious optimism was confirmed when I received a call from Mr. Secor just a few

days later. He told me then that he’d like me to come to their corporate offices and meet with the

Wyeth Labs Vice-President of Operations. He told me this would be the next step in the hiring


Wow! So I passed the audition. Well, the first one, anyway. Or, after reviewing my

resume and our first phone chat, was it actually the second or third audition? It didn’t really

matter. I was on my way. I was ever closer to my new job, my new profession, and saying

goodbye to the BPD forever.

Within a week or so, I drove to the Collegeville, Pennsylvania, corporate offices of

Wyeth. I was met by Mr. Secor in the lobby once again. From there, we walked to his well-

appointed office. After some small talk we discussed various Wyeth-related topic matters until

he began narrowing in on my upcoming meeting with the VP of Operations. Secor told me in

advance that this man was HIS immediate boss, and he felt it important that anyone he was

considering hiring should first meet with this man in his (the VP’s) office before any such action

would take place. So, today was that perfunctory meeting.

As per our conversations in person and over the phone during the last week, both Secor

and I realized that despite numerous personal and professional qualities on my part, there was

one area in which I was somewhat lacking. That is, I didn’t have a particular strength or

advanced knowledge in the area of electronic surveillance systems, such as closed-circuit

television (CCTV), alarm systems, card entry mechanisms, and the like. These are critical

systems in a facility such as the one where I could potentially be working. Secor knew of this

“weakness” about me but at the same time he told me he didn’t think it would be a major


Prior to the upcoming interview, while still in the Security Director’s office, he simply

advised me that IF the VP asked me anything regarding electronic surveillance to relate to him

that I had a “basic, working knowledge” of it and was certainly willing and able to learn more

about it from the several in-house and outside experts that Wyeth already employed in these

capacities. Throughout this part of our conversation, I caught Secor’s drift and I knew I could

make my way through any discussion of this topic I may have with the VP. I certainly wouldn’t

lie to him or overly exaggerate my skillset in this area, but I would let him know that I am

familiar with the security systems the BPD uses (I facilitated it being overhauled and updated
during my year as Admin sergeant), that I deal with alarm company representatives all the time

on my present job (which I actually do when they respond to alarm calls), and once I’m in-place

at the facility I would make sure that between me, Mr. Secor, and the various on-scene

technicians, the system at the facility would be the very best one available to protect Wyeth’s

valuable merchandise and its employees.

So, with all that fresh in mind, into the interview I went. Mr. Secor walked me into the

VP’s spacious and nicely decorated corner office, introduced me to him, and the three of us

talked some generic non-business related issues together. Then, after maybe five minutes, as if

on cue, Secor got up and left the room. Now it was just me and the VP. Okay, let’s see where

and how this goes.

Now, what do I know and not know about CCTV, alarm systems…?

The Wyeth VP of Operations was an older gentleman, perhaps in his early-60s. He was

distinguished looking (as well as corporate looking) with a full head of white hair which was

contrasted to some degree by his jet-black framed eyeglasses. He asked me a bit about my

present job as a police sergeant and I told him about my various responsibilities now, formerly as

a detective sergeant, and even my year of being in Admin. He seemed generally interested in

what I was telling him. We also delved into my former security-related job as a department store

detective, then back to the present and my current studies at Villanova.

Somehow, someway, and after all these years I forget how it actually segued, but our

discussion then turned to the country of Ireland. It seems the VP was an Irish-American, and had

just recently returned from a vacation to the Emerald Island. Well, I jumped on that topic like

white on rice (brown on potato?) and for the next five to eight minutes we talked about our
common ethnic and nationalistic heritage as well as my travels there in 1978. As we had actually

visited some of the same small towns, and we agreed that we even may have visited one or more

of the same pubs in those towns, the conversation became quite animated. I was waiting for him

to crack open one of his drawers and pour me a shot of Jameson’s Irish whiskey. Unfortunately,

that never happened.

The VP and I had definitely hit it off. I could feel it. At some point about fifteen minutes

in, once again seemingly on cue, Mr. Secor knocked and came back into the VP’s office. The

Security Director could see the two of us smiling and conversing as if we had known each other

for years. Secor seemed initially surprised, but then joined us in the now very friendly discourse.

Within a few minutes he eventually took it upon himself to thank the VP for his time today.

After I got up and exchanged a hearty handshake with the VP he actually said “Erin go Bragh” to

me. As I exited his office I repeated it back to him.

On the walk back to the Security Director’s office, once we had some privacy, Secor said

to me, “Gee Jim…that seemed to go pretty well. I was glad to hear your back-and-forth banter

when I first walked in. That’s a very good sign. Oh, by the way, did he bring up the alarm or

CCTV issue at all?”

“No,” I replied, “he never mentioned it once. Is that a good or bad thing?”

“I think it means you’re fine, Jim,” the Director advised me with great assuredness. “The

VP isn’t all that much of, shall we say, an effervescent guy, personality-wise. But clearly, you

two hit it off today. That’s a really good thing.”

I thanked Secor for his earlier guidance and nice words so far. He simply responded, “No

Then, Secor added to my listening pleasure by telling me, “Look, Jim, if you haven’t

picked up on this already, I’m pulling for you here. There were some other candidates for this

position but you’re definitely now at the top of our list. And, whether you know it or not, I’m

pretty sure you just passed this step here today with the VP. I’m not guaranteeing anything, but I

gotta tell you, it looks very good so far.”

“That’s great to hear,” I responded. “So, if I may ask…what’s next for me?”

Mr. Secor then rattled off to me, “So, here’s the plan…In the next week or two,

depending on various peoples’ schedules, I want you to meet for lunch with me and several of

our Executive Vice-Presidents. It’s sort of a protocol we go through before we officially hire

anyone at this level of management. So, in effect, it’ll be another interview, but much less

formal. It’ll be at a restaurant somewhere in this general area. I’ll call you in the next week

about it, okay?”

“Uh, yes, sure, absolutely. Just let me know.”

“Yes, I will. And Jim, you’re doing great. This luncheon will be important, but I’m sure

it will go similar to today’s meeting. Just be yourself. Okay, I gotta run now to another

meeting. I’ll call you next week.”

I left the Wyeth corporate HQ. On the drive home, I tried to put everything in

perspective. I’ve seemingly “passed” two interviews so far, with two different people. That

feels very rewarding. And, if this upcoming luncheon goes well, I could get the official job offer

shortly thereafter. That’s how these things work, right?

Geez, could this BPD nightmare finally be coming to an end? Could I be saying goodbye

to those assorted upper-tier clowns as early as in the next few weeks?

Maybe, right?
I mean, what could go wrong at a mid-day luncheon? I can do lunch. I’ve done ’em for

years. Let’s see…little fork for salads, big fork for entrees, napkin on the lap…yeah, I can do


The Security Director did, in fact, call me within a week. (We’re now into about mid-

April of ’85.) Secor went over our respective schedules and determined a certain upcoming

weekday would work just fine for all of the interested parties. There would be three Executive

Vice-Presidents with us that day. So, it was set. He’d call me back with the exact time and the

name and address of the restaurant.

This was so exciting. I was on a steady and upward trajectory in acquiring this new job.

I was confident (but again, not cocky) that the next stage would go just as well as the previous

stages. I mean, what could go wrong at a business luncheon with five guys?

With a whole week to contemplate the upcoming restaurant gathering with various, high-

up Wyeth business people, my mind started wandering. That happens with me sometimes.

Maybe I simply had too much time in advance to think about this event and its potential

consequences, both of the positive and of the negative variety. For one, I started pondering this

upcoming meal-date and knowing that it is referenced in corporate parlance as a “business

lunch.” Even at 32 years of age, I can honestly say up until then that I had never really

experienced such an official mid-day meal, at least in its contemporary connotation and with

real, actual businessmen. On television, in the movies, and in various books and newspaper

articles, the modern day (remember, 1985) business lunch attended by modern day (still, 1985)

business persons usually involved alcoholic beverages. Not just one such beverage either, but
sometimes several. At least that’s how it was depicted in the media and through the

entertainment industry.

I’m not sure exactly when and where the term “two martini lunch” originated, but was

that the norm at these things? Was I expected to drink one, maybe even two, or more, martinis?

Will I be measured by these guys on how much, or how little, I drink, to include how I handle

myself afterwards?

Hmmm…how do I address this rather fluid situation?

For the record, I was not then and am not now a teetotaler. I enjoy a beer or two, a glass

of wine (or two), a Captain and Coke (or two), as much as the next guy. However, I almost

always restrict my libation consumption to the early to mid-evening hours, and never at

lunchtime. And, I don’t drink hard liquor either (just flavored rum). It’s just not a habit I’ve

ever developed.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t then nor do I now pass judgment on those who may choose

to have a drink or two for lunch, whether beer, wine, or hard liquor, as long as they can safely

function (as in drive) afterwards. However, for me, neither that time of the day, nor that variety

of alcoholic beverage, did it for me then or does it for me now.

But, all these businessmen drink liquor for lunch, right? I mean, that’s normal nowadays

(1985), isn’t it? Will these guys think I’m less of a man and/or a potential colleague if I don’t

order a similar beverage at lunchtime? I mean, I could handle a beer, no problem, but I’m just

not in the habit of doing so at twelve noon.

Geez, how do I handle this?
I know Mr. Secor is in my corner. He’s already told me that. Perhaps when he calls me

with the restaurant name and location I could off-handedly ask him then what he recommends

regarding this issue. Yeah, that’s a good idea.

The bottom-line here was that I SO did not want to blow this opportunity, especially as I

made it this far by doing everything right. I wanted to keep doing everything right at this lunch

too. I wanted to project the best possible image of who I was and what I was capable of doing

for Wyeth, Inc. as their potential new Security Manager. I was so close right now and I just

didn’t want even one little thing to go wrong for me and mess up this possible employment offer.

I believe it was a Monday when Secor called me, no more than forty-eight hours before

the upcoming big lunch on Wednesday. He told me it was to be at a French restaurant in Media,

Pennsylvania, and I should meet him in front of the place at 12:30. As he was speaking, I was

copying down the information and once done I was going to casually ask him about the drinking

issue when all of a sudden he said, “Jim, I gotta take care of something that just came up. You

got the information, right? See you on Wednesday?”

“Uh, yes, I have it. Okay, yes, I’ll see you on Wednesday. Thanks. Bye.”

And, that was it.

A French restaurant? So, now it’s not JUST the drinking at lunchtime issue, but now it’s

a potential language issue. Well, maybe….

Geez, of all the five-star eateries in the Philadelphia Metropolitan area, this final

interview/business lunch has to be at a French restaurant? But…but…I don’t speak French.

Yes, I know the menu will be in English, or at least some of it, but I’ve never been to a French
restaurant before. There simply weren’t that many of them in the Philadelphia area. What if I

can’t even pronounce the entrée which interests me? How will that make me look? This now on

top of the whole drinking dilemma!

How do I handle this?

Okay, I’m letting this whole stupid lunch thing get to my head. I must let it go and move

on. When I finally arrive there on Wednesday, I must just rely on what got me to this place in

life so far, not to mention this place in the Wyeth job interview process so far. I’ll be fine. I’m

sure of it.

I certainly hope so….

I arrived at the restaurant early on Wednesday. Right about 12:30, Mr. Secor showed up.

Within five minutes of his arrival, the three exec VPs showed up. While shaking the hands of

each person, and Secor introducing them to me one at a time, I paid extra attention in an attempt

to remember each one’s first name. They were relatively common names, so that part proved

easy. (The Security Director had provided me with their names in advance, too. That definitely

helped.) Appearing by all outward appearances a seemingly cohesive group, but what was in

reality a group of four Wyeth execs and one wannabe future Wyeth exec, we walked through the

trendy and not uncrowded restaurant to our reserved table. Okay, so far, so good.

The VPs were each in their 40s, decent-looking guys, and dressed very professionally. I

had the corporate attire thing down at this point, so I was fine in that department. The three men

were friendly and out-going too. We talked a bit at first about Philly sports, including Villanova

University and their men’s basketball team’s very recent championship in the NCAA tourney

(more on that upcoming), and various other issues of the day. They knew I was taking grad
courses at ‘Nova and one of them told me he was a graduate of the school. That was a

convenient nexus between me and at least one of the VPs…it certainly couldn’t hurt. No

business per se was discussed, not yet anyway.

I was still a bit nervous now actually sitting at the table, but my slightly obsessive earlier

thinking about this lunch event was now behind me. It had to be. It was now time to put on my

game face and do what I could to impress yet a few more Wyeth executives. I’ve done it before

and I can do it again. No more “thinking” about it, Jim. Just “do” it.

My “doing” it was going just fine until my worst lunchtime nightmare came to fruition.

Well, sort of. It started after only a few minutes of the aforementioned idle conversation among

the guys. It was when our waitress came over to our table and gave all of us a hearty welcome as

she was handing out the menus. Upon us responding with a collective and friendly “Hi” back at

her, she then asked, “Gentlemen, may I start you with some drinks?”

Okay, of course I knew that would eventually be coming from our food server. No

surprise there. But the actual nightmare-coming-to-pass part happened next. That’s when one of

the VPs looked up from his menu, with eyes in direct alignment with mine, and said, “Sure. Jim,

why don’t you start us off?”

Damn! Double-Damn!

The Wyeth VPs, and even my “handler” Mr. Secor, are putting me on the spot right

away. I can’t even follow their lead here. They’re putting it on ME to order the first drink, or

not order the first drink, or whatever it is I’m supposed or not supposed to do here.

So…what do I do at this actual business lunch, with these actual businessmen? What

would I do if it was just me? Or, just me in a non-pressure, non-official lunch situation with
family and/or friends? Everything I’ve been semi-obsessively thinking about over the last week

regarding this stupid drink/don’t drink scenario is now upon me at this very moment. It’s

decision time, Jim! Just DO it!

In a matter of only seconds, and after all the self-imposed strife regarding this very

moment in time, what I did next actually came rather easily to me. As such, I cleared my throat,

maintained contact with the eyes of the VP who put it on me to make the first drink selection,

then looked up at the waitress and simply said, “Yes, I’ll have an iced tea, please.”

Upon casually looking down again at my menu, I then heard in rapid succession the VPs

and the Security Director proceed to tell the waitress, “I’ll have a Coke;” “Diet Coke here,

please;” “Make mine an iced tea, too;” and finally, “Just water, thank you.” There was not an

alcoholic beverage ordered by any of them.

Whew! I suppose in retrospect that was pretty easy. I did then and there what I would

naturally do at a 12:30PM lunch, and made no excuses for it. Ironically, coincidently, or perhaps

by design, the four other men then ordered non-alcoholic drinks along with me, or maybe

because of me.

To this day, I always wondered IF I had ordered a mug of beer, a glass of wine, or even a

martini, would they have also done the same. I’ll never know, and I really don’t care. I did what

came natural for me that day, and it worked out just fine.

Okay though, that was only one part of the issue regarding today’s lunch. Now I have to

decipher this lunch menu. The entrees were, in fact, listed in French, but with English

descriptions after each one.
Hmmm…how is Filet De Boeuf Marchand De Vin pronounced? Or what about Jarret D

Agneau? Canard is pronounceable, but I don’t like duck. And what the heck is Sole De Douvres

Almondine? Even with the English description I still wasn’t sure what the hell it actually was.

Geez, if it was a Spanish or Mexican restaurant, I would have been fine. I’ve had three

years of high school Spanish and two trimesters of it at Penn State. But, French…? Not my cup

of tea, or tasse de the.

While anxiously perusing the menu, one entrée item eventually caught my attention. It

was about halfway down on the right side page. From the subsequent English language

description, it was clearly a chicken dish. Hmmm…I like chicken and I like how this meal is

supposedly cooked, the accompanying side dishes, etc. It seems fine to me as a lunchtime meal.

But most of all, thanks to Hollywood, I’m pretty sure I can pronounce it too.

I immediately recalled a 1973 movie starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. I

saw it in the theater when it first came out and probably once or twice since then on television.

And, thanks to it and its French title/name, pronounced numerous times in the movie itself (and

by others later talking about the movie), I knew exactly what to order and even how to

pronounce it.

“Yes, Ma’am, I’ll have the Chicken Papillon, please.”

The movie, of course, was Papillon.

Merci, Hollywood, merci beaucoup….

The iced tea was refreshing, the meal was delicious, and the lunch itself was a success.

We talked mostly about life in general, our families, and my present job at the BPD. The men

were definitely interested in what’s it like to be a “real” cop today, as opposed to a TV cop, I
guess. So, I told them, focusing mostly on my investigations and my supervision of officers. I

threw in too about my year in Admin, so they knew I could also handle budgets, work with

contractors, vendors, and the like. But, they still wanted to go back to stories about arrests I had

made, car chases, and the like. So as to not disappoint, I regaled them to the best of my story

telling abilities.

By dessert, and with a verbal menu full of bad guys already arrested by me and in prison,

the conversation turned informally to Wyeth Labs and its needs, future plans, and the like. I

seemed to handle myself well in this category too, this time with me asking some questions of

them. They seemed to appreciate what I said and what I asked. Secor stayed relatively quiet for

most of the hour-and-a-half lunch, as this was clearly the opportunity for the three Vice-

Presidents to spend quality time with me and feel me out. And that they did.

The lunch ended, Secor paid the bill, and the two of us said goodbye to our three Wyeth

executive guests. One of them even said, “I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of you, Jim.

Oh, and Go “NOVA!” (Yes, he was the Villanova grad.)

I had a few minutes afterwards in the lobby alone with the Security Director and he told

me that he felt our lunch meeting went very well. In so many words, he told me that today’s

lunch was the last step in my hiring process and I will be hearing from him in the next week or

two once the decision is officially made.

“Sit tight,” Mr. Secor told me. He added, after looking around a bit to make sure no one

was within earshot, “I’m sure I’ll be calling you with the good news very soon.”

Geez, just hearing those words was good, make that great, news to me.
When outside and walking down the steps of the restaurant, about to go separate ways to

our respective cars, I shook Secor’s hand very firmly, grabbed his forearm with my other hand,

and thanked him for all of this, for helping me get to this final stage of the Wyeth hiring process.

I sincerely meant it, too. He said “You’re welcome,” but then congratulated me for doing such a

great job at each level along the way and representing myself so well. I assured him that WHEN

I’m hired (I purposely didn’t say “if”), neither he nor Wyeth Labs will be disappointed. He said

he knew that wouldn’t be the case. We said goodbye on the sidewalk and agreed we’d talk soon.

I walked very nonchalantly back to my car on the side street where it was parked, got

inside, and turned on the engine. Before I even put my two hands on the steering wheel I let out

a primal scream. It was a few of them actually, mixed in with my hands pounding in rhythm on

the dashboard. With the windows up, I yelled for no one else to hear, “YEAH! I NAILED IT!


Perhaps more appropriate for the restaurant at which I had just dined it should have been,

“Bonjour, Wyeth…Au revoir, Bensalem Police!”

In whatever language, I was on the top of the world at this very moment, certainly in a

professional sense. It felt sooooo good, too.

With the day-in, day-out steady bombardment of harassment, accusatory memos,

disrespect, and the general “stink” permeating the BPD during this same timeframe, the Wyeth

process and my individual one-at-a-time successes therein over the last several weeks was the

booster shot in the arm that I sorely needed at the time.
However, just one more time referencing back to the French restaurant and my entree of

that afternoon, perhaps I should have known not to count my chickens (even of the Papillon

variety) before they hatch.

No, not quite yet.