By Craig Hastings
I’ve spent my last two evenings in my own garage/shop applying a decal package to the newest police car. There’s more time in preparation, application, and final detailing than you might imagine. A new car application will take me nearly six hours from start to finish. If the work is the removal of an old decal kit and the application of a replacement kit, then I will plan on double the time to complete the job. Many years ago after becoming the Chief here in Tuscola, I went with the retro black and white paint scheme, which required very little time in decal application, because the black and white paint alone was enough of a police car call out. As time and officers came and went I was prodded to change up the police car markings. I resisted for many years.
The black and white paint scheme has always been the American police patrol car representation, and I wanted to continue with the tradition. It was my own way to show I haven’t forgotten the generations of officers that served before me. Each day my department took something of old to work with them, much like a flag, team banner, etc. But a few years ago I caved and moved on…kinda. You see, I don’t know if any of the officers here have taken notice or not, but I have a mix of black cars and white cars but they share the same decal packages. The old guy got to keep some of what he wants and the newbies get their new stamp on the cars they drive. It could be the black and white combination paint cars made the younger officers feel old, like the Chief, me. You see, right now I think I’ve got the most currently active duty years of any police officer in Douglas County right now. I think only Chief Gire in Villa Grove bests me in years of age, and that’s only by two I think.
And the word “old” and how it fits in with these police car markings and myself is what this story is really about. I did the equipment install on this car a month or so ago as I have all but four cars over the past 34 years of my 38 years of employment here. I started to get away from the equipment install a few years back because of the toll it took on my physical well being for three days after. I’ve entrusted Greg and Bill Bates with those duties. I did do the installation on this last one because of scheduling conflicts. I still can do the install but would rather not, even though my brain enjoys it, the rest of my body not so much.
Thursday night I pulled this car in my garage and let it set until the body panels warmed up to about 70 degrees; the same temperature of the decals. I wiped the body panels down with alcohol and after they dried, I wiped them down with a tack cloth. The decal package we use is made up of multiple pieces. It requires that I tape them on the car first in order to get them properly spaced side to side and up and down. I do all of this while sitting and rolling on a creeper seat. As I move down on the car I need to sit directly on the garage floor. All of this preparation requires me to get up and down many times and bend over just as many. Once the actual installation starts, I do all of the up and down all over a second time.
Over the hours all of this takes place I really don’t notice it having much of an effect on my body and those muscles I’m taxing to get this job done. Over these last five years I pace myself doing one of these decal applications. Hence the four hours, two evenings, rest in between sessions. I’m complaining tonight about getting old not the install. I woke up Friday morning after the first four hour session on Thursday night, extremely stiff and sore from the bending, squatting, lifting, up and down, etc. However, before I started back in on the finish Friday night I was feeling better and went right back at it and got it done. But, Saturday morning was just like Friday morning. And by Saturday evening I was feeling good again.
But come on here! I feel up to the task, want to do the task, and can actually do the task, so why do I hurt afterward? I never used to. It only makes sense to me that if I was going to be sore afterward my brain would predict this and tell me not to do it. Nope, just the opposite happens. My brain is all about getting started just so I can see the finished product. I really dislike feeling bad after doing things I’ve done my whole life without soreness or other pain. “Take something for it!” you say? Nope, I refuse to cave in and except that just because I’ve lived more years that I also have to except more pain. I’m working from a thought that if I do these things long enough my body will get tired of feeling bad and just leave me alone after that next decal application on police car number sixtieth or seventieth. When that happens I’ll tell you about it right here! Stay tuned!