It is Monday morning and time again for another blog. I am a retired Senior Executive (GSA) and the author of a recently published book, Confessions of a Government Man: How to Succeed in Any Bureaucracy. Last week was good. My book had a nice Amazon review posted and my website had a spike in visits, largely due to my newfound GovLoop friends. As gratitude, for my blog I am going to reveal the story behind one of the marketing teasers on the back cover – specifically the one alluding to my being detained at gunpoint by a judge.
One of my personal career highlights (actually lowlights) was to have a federal judge point a loaded gun at me. This was back in the seventies. If the same event happened in today’s climate he would have squeezed the trigger, no questions asked.
For whatever reason, both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are part of the New York Region of GSA and other federal agencies. Nobody really knows how this came about. Supposedly in the early days of the agency it was easier to get to Puerto Rico from New York than from Atlanta, which was actually the closest GSA office. There was never any real attempt to change this because a trip to Puerto Rico was always an ideal remedy to any winter heating issues in the northeast.
Because of the frequent unstable political climate in the islands, judges were paranoid about security and many carried a pistol. The security in courthouses was not nearly as tight as it is today and a lot of ornery people passed through their portals.
I was visiting the islands and getting an orientation tour of the spanking new courthouse in St. Thomas, located on a hill with a magnificent view of the harbor. Our building manager was escorting me. The judges, the building manager and the security force were the only ones with keys (now card readers are used) to the judge’s private corridors which allowed the judges to enter and leave the building and their courtrooms without traversing public areas, where they might encounter the family of a defendant who is about to be sentenced.
Judge Almeric Christian was the chief judge. “Would you like to see the judge’s chambers?” offered our building manager. “He’s out of town. We can enter from here.”
This was a big mistake. We entered his office through the private corridor and bypassed the reception area. Unfortunately the judge was not out of town. We passed through the secondary door of his chambers just in time for me to see a loaded Smith & Wesson pointed at my choking Adam’s apple. The judge didn’t know me from Adam or apple and probably would have fired if I took a step closer. Fortunately he recognized the building manager or he might have mortally wounded both of us.
As the gun slowly worked its way down, his words of wisdom, which I still think of every time I’m tempted to open a private doorway, were: “Don’t ever come through that door again.”
I will post additional book excerpts from time to time. For more information about myself or my book please check out my website, http://www.thegovernmentman.com. For a look inside go Amazon.com.
Oh my….that’s wild