Archive

Tag Archives: Police

Vintage Dilbert March 15, 2005

Vintage Dilbert
March 15, 2005

My dad’s name was George Bullard. He was born in a rural area, right up in the northeast corner of Mississippi that most folks call British County and the locals just call paradise. My dad was about 50 when I was born, but I was very fortunate to have had him.

He raised and trained bird dogs his whole life. If the bird dog business got a little slow, he’d paint a house or two, but after he got up in his 60s, someone persuaded him to get into politics. He ran for the board of aldermen, and he was elected by a landslide. Everybody loved him.

His assignment was fire commissioner. Now, the only things the previous fire commissioners had done were go to meetings and make political decisions. My father liked to get involved, though, so he went to the telephone company and said, “Can’t y’all hook my telephone up with the one at the fire department?”

So they did, and every time the fire department telephone rang, our phone rang—one long, continuous ring until you picked it up—and then you didn’t talk; you just listened to see where the fire was so he could go. And he went to all the fires, day or night. He knew almost nothing about firefighting, but he knew how to encourage young men, so he’d go and encourage ’em.

I got involved because my father had almost stopped driving at night because of his age, and as a teenager with a driver’s license, I’d drive him at three o’clock in the morning.

After his few turns as board alderman, several people, myself included, persuaded him not to do that anymore. But when he left, he found that he missed the camaraderie he had formed with the firemen, and because the firemen and the police department were in the same building, he missed the policemen too. So he would just go down there to visit every now and again. And this being a small town, they worked out something which might not have been real legal, but they taught him how to operate the police radio, and anytime anybody wanted a day off or was sick, he’d go in and work an eight-hour shift.

But one day, he got to his job down at the police department, and he discovered, to his amazement, they had a prisoner!

I did say it was a small town. It was most unusual.

And that morning, he really didn’t have much to do. He’d wander back and talk to this young man, and when he went out for lunch, he brought a couple hamburgers back for him. Well, by one or two o’clock, he had made a decision about this young man, and he always trusted his instincts about people. He had decided that in spite of being long-haired—way down to here, which my father hated—he was a decent young man, so he’d see if he could help him.

He started to inquire of him, “Why are you still here? You seem like such a nice young man. Won’t anybody come get you out of jail?”

And the young man told him, “Well, I had a little too much to drink last night, and they arrested me for drunken disorder, and here I am.”

My dad said, “Well, what would it take to get you out?” And he said, “Well, I have to pay a two-hundred-dollar fine.” My dad said, “Well, why can’t your family pay the two-hundred-dollar fine?” He said, “Well, I think if I could talk to my father face-to-face, I could get the two hundred dollars from him, but I don’t know how he’s going to react to a collect call from the Boonville jail.”

My dad mulled this over a little while, and he said, “Well, do you think if I turned you loose, you could go find your father and get two hundred dollars and come back?”

I’m going to remind you that my father’s only duty was operating the police radio that talked back and forth with the cars.

So the young man said, “Well, see, I’m from Corinth, Mississippi, and that’s about 20 miles north. They impounded my car. I got no way up there.”

And my daddy said, “Well, is it a blue Chevrolet?” And he said, “Yes, sir.” And then my daddy said, “It’s parked out in the parking lot. I can probably find the keys.”

So he scrounges around in the desk drawers and finds the keys, and he not only releases the prisoner, over whom he has no authority, he gives him a getaway car.

Well, as the kid leaves, my father says, “Now, son, I believe if I could borrow two hundred dollars from my daddy, I’d borrow another five to get me a darn haircut.”

At about four o’clock, the policemen started coming back to change shifts, and as they came in, they check in on the prisoner. And they discovered, to their dismay, that they didn’t have one. And they said, “Mr. George, what happened to the prisoner?”

My daddy was busy doing his closing-up paperwork, and he said, “Oh, yeah. I turned him loose.”
And the police officer said, “You did what?”

“Turned him loose.”

“Mr. George, why did you do that?”

Daddy said, “Well, he just seemed like a nice young man, and he’ll be back in a little while with his two hundred dollars.”

And the police officer was kind of taken aback. He’d known my father all his life; my father was like a grandfather to most of those guys. The officer said, “OK, well, we’ll take care of this,” and he went back to the other policemen to try to figure out how they were gonna get out of this without my father losing his unofficial job, and one of them says, “Well, we ought to remind the chief that George Bullard helped get him elected.” But another of ’em said, “Oh, I got a better idea. Let’s just tear up the paperwork, and we’ll just pretend we never arrested that boy.”

Well, my father wouldn’t hear of it. He said, “Oh, no. I know that boy’s coming back. I know he is.”

And the police officer said, “How can you be so sure? You don’t even know him.”

And my father’s answer was simple: “He told me that he would.”

They waited around, and 4:30 came and five o’clock, and of course, no young man returned. And at about 5:15, they’re trying to get my dad to go home, ’cause his shift ended at five.
He’s kind of stoic, and he says,“No, I’m gonna wait around until he comes back.”

One of ’em observed, “Might be kind of a long wait.” But no, my dad didn’t get discouraged.
All of a sudden, the door opens, and the young man walks in—shaven, short hair—walks up to the counter, and they don’t even acknowledge him, ’cause they’re still mulling over what they’re gonna do to save my dad, and finally the young man says, “Excuse me; I’d like to pay my fine.” And that kind of got their attention, but they still didn’t recognize him, and one of ’em walked to the counter and said, “What fine is that you’re talking ’bout?”

He said, “Well, you guys arrested me last night—locked me up. I owe two hundred, and I’m here to pay it.” Started counting out 20-dollar bills. When he got to 200, the police didn’t say a word, but they wrote him out a receipt. They thanked him. The boy started to leave. When he got to the door to go out, he turned around and—almost as if he knew what the situation was like there in that office with my dad—said, “Oh, by the way, Mr. Bullard, I’m sorry I was late getting back, but I had to wait in the line at the barbershop.”

by Wanda Bullard
Advertisements
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
May 7, 1998

“You gotta be crazy!” That’s what Lee Dunham’s friends told him back in 1971 when he gave up a secure job as a police officer and invested his life savings in the notoriously risky restaurant business. This particular restaurant was more than just risky, it was downright dangerous. It would be the first McDonald’s franchise in the city of New York – smack in the middle of crime-ridden Harlem.

Lee had always had plans. When other kids were playing ball in the empty lots of Brooklyn, Lee was playing entrepreneur, collecting milk bottles and returning them to grocery stores for the deposits. He had his own shoeshine stand and worked delivering newspapers and groceries.

Early on, he promised his mother that one day she would never again have to wash other people’s clothes for a living. He was going to start his own business and support her. “Hush your mouth and do your homework,”she told him.

She knew that no member of the Dunham family had ever risen above the level oflaborer, let alone owned a business. “There’s no way you’re going to open your own business, ” his mother told him repeatedly.

Years passed, but Lee’s penchant for dreaming and planning did not. After high school, he joined the Air Force, where his goal of one day owning a family restaurant began to take shape. He enrolled in the Air Force food service school and became such an accomplished cook he was promoted to the officers’ dining hall.

When he left the Air Force, he worked for four years in several restaurants, including one in the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Lee longed to start his own restaurant but felt he lacked the business skills to be successful. He signed up for business school and took classes at night while he applied and was hired to be a police officer.

For fifteen years he worked full-time as a police officer. In his off-hours, he worked part-time as a carpenter and continued to attend business school. And he had started saving and preparing for his dream. By 1971, Lee had saved $42,000, and it was time for him to make his vision a reality.

Lee wanted to open an upscale restaurant in Brooklyn. With a business plan in hand, he set out to seek financing. The banks refused him. Unable to get funding to open an independent restaurant, lee turned to franchising and filled out numerous applications.

McDonald’s offered him a franchise, with one stipulation: Lee had to set up a McDonald’s in the inner-city, the first to be located there. McDonald’s wanted to find out if its type of fast-food restaurant could be successful in the inner city. It seemed that Lee might be the right person to operate that first restaurant.

To get the franchise, Lee would have to invest his life savings and borrow $150,000 more. Everything for which he’d worked and sacrificed all those years would be on the line – a very thin line if he believed his friends. Lee spent many sleepless nights before making his decision.

He decided this was it. The years of preparation he’d invested – the dreaming, planning, studying and saving now had a vehicle to make them a reality. He signed on the dotted line to operate the first inner-city McDonald’s in the United States.

The first few months were a disaster. Gang fights, gunfire, and other violent incidents plagued his restaurant and scared customers away. Inside, employees stole his food and cash, and his safe was broken into routinely. To make matters worse, Lee couldn’t get any help from McDonald’s headquarters; the company’s representatives were too afraid to venture into the ghetto. Lee was on his own.

Although he had been robbed of his merchandise, his profits, and his confidence, Lee was not going to be robbed of his dream. Lee fell back on what he had always believed in – preparation and planning.

Lee put together a strategy. First, he sent a strong message to the neighborhood thugs that McDonald’s wasn’t going to be their turf. To make his ultimatum stick, he needed to offer an alternative to crime and violence. In the eyes of those kids, Lee saw the same look of helplessness he had seen in his own family.

He knew that there was hope and opportunity in that neighborhood and he was going to prove it to the kids. He decided to serve more than meals to his community – he would serve dreams and solutions. He was going to make their obstacles their stepping stones.

Lee spoke openly with gang members, challenging them to rebuild their lives. Then he did what some might say was unthinkable: he hired gang members and put them to work. He tightened up his operation and conducted spot checks. He continually taught his employees the need for honesty and a good reputation if they were to succeed in life. Lee improved working conditions and once a week he offered his employees classes in customer service and management.

He encouraged them to develop personal and professional goals. He always stressed two things: his restaurant offered a way out of a dead-end life; and the faster and more efficiently the employees served the customers, the more lucrative that way would be.

In the community, Lee sponsored athletic teams and scholarships to get kids off the streets and into community centers and schools. The New York inner-city restaurant became a hub for ghetto kids to get a new start and dream new dreams. And in the process, it became McDonald’s most profitable franchise worldwide, earning more than $1.5 million a year.

Company representatives who wouldn’t set foot in Harlem months earlier now flocked to Lee’s doors, eager to learn how he did it. To Lee, the answer was simple: “Serve the customers, the employees, and the community-dreams, goals and solutions along with hamburgers.”

Today, Lee Dunham owns nine restaurants, employs 435 people, and serves thousands of meals every day. It’s been many years since his mother had to take in wash to pay the bills. More importantly, Lee paved the way for thousands of African-American entrepreneurs who are working to make their dreams a reality, helping their communities, and serving up hope.

All this was possible because a little boy understood the need to dream, to plan, and to prepare for the future. In doing so, he changed his life and the lives of thousands of others.

 Cynthia Kersey
 Excerpted/Adapted from Unstoppable
 Copyright 1988 by Cynthia Kersey, www.unstoppable.net 
%d bloggers like this: