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Action Minus Reaction

Whack! Here it comes again for those who weren’t listening—Whaacck! What was that? Well, friends and those who don’t like me but read anyway, that was the sound of Ol’ Bullethead getting slapped across the chops by my own agency.

What did I get slapped for? That isn’t important; they used one of those catch-all sections that I’m sure all of the 20,000 departments in the country use when they can’t think of anything else. Because Ol’ Bullethead is pretty much above and beyond squared away, I’m not used to getting slapped. However, I tend to do things my own way. I often stand tall, explaining why I’m right and everyone else is wrong. That ain’t easy, but if you’ve read even one of my columns, you know I call ‘em like I see ‘em.

One second I’m finishing briefing and feeling good, and the next, I’m standing tall with a captain’s boot planted three feet up my fourth point of contact. I went through all the usual phases. Anger, embarrassment, fear and so on—the same as anyone who’s ever been disciplined. Let’s walk through those emotions, and maybe we can all learn something.


How could they do this to me? I’m a model employee; just ask me. I quickly figured that going over the table and dispatching the captain and the lieutenant was probably not appropriate. I still have Mrs. Bullethead and the Capheads to provide for. Regardless of wanting to leave two corpses where two people previously sat, it was the right decision. I even made the strategic decision to keep my tongue in check, just as I kept my violent streak in check.


What will those appointed above me, the troops and my amigos think? I’d look weird with the laces of this two-bar’s boot sticking out of my rear end. I couldn’t imagine anyone retaining any respect for me.

I was dead wrong here. It turns out my amigos got a kick out of it. Those appointed above me and the troops had a similar reaction, but for different reasons. The troops watched how I reacted to the discipline as a model for their own actions. The management watched how I reacted as a measure of me.


Then I thought to myself, “I’m career dead. I’ll never get another assignment, and that will suck. Plus, I’ve let my family down, and they’ll suffer because of my actions.”


Next, I entered the retribution phase. That’s where you swear you’ll shove this entire investigation right back up their rear ends. I had a strategy set up where I’d attack multiple fronts—the investigators, the management and the policy.

I was ready to use tools most of these management idiots hadn’t even heard of, including subverting their command and using intel and counter intel against them to find out everything they’re doing wrong and have ever done wrong—a one-man Mossad with a little Special Ops sprinkled on top. It would have been ugly and really fun.


I had chow with my amigos, and they laughed their asses off. There went my embarrassment and fear problems. I called Mrs. Bullethead, and she said, “Oh well, I’m sure you’ll be fine.” Then she asked what I wanted to do on my next days off.

I thought I must have been missing something because I was the only one who seemed to care. I decided I’d better hold off on destroying the professional and personal lives of the command staff until I could think about it a little more. After some quiet time with a real big cigar and some smooth scotch, I worked it all out.

The Real Lesson

I did what they said I did! Big deal or not, they thought it was enough to give me what I got. I’m positive they don’t care much that I did it, and they aren’t worried about the punishment either.

They wanted to see how I’d react to what I got. Would I go into a tailspin, start bad mouthing the agency and stop working? Or would I carry on with my mission? This is how it is with most discipline. What they care about is how we react to it. I’m not saying we shouldn’t all defend our rights. I’m saying that, when all is said and done, we need to move on and continue to work. Doing this makes us stronger and better employees.

Our marching orders are clear. Take what we have coming, then pick up the flag and continue to lead those who need us.          


Got a question or complaint? Let Bullethead hear about it. He'll give you his opinion WITH BOTH BARRELS. Contact him via e-mail at or fax him at 619/699-6246.


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