Waiting Tables or High-Speed Chases?🚔

Hi, all—

I promised a final blackmail-able author photo. But first, an explanation. As everyone knows, college students need money. At the time, I was no exception. Since internet job postings weren't a thing yet, I dutifully headed to the financial aid center at the University of Texas, where I studied a giant cork board at length. The index cards filling it represented Austin's current student part-time job openings. Unfortunately, 9o% of the slots were for waiting tables.

Guys, there's a reason why I'm never selected first for team sports that require agility: I'm a total klutz. Plagued by visions of upending a tray of food & drinks into some poor patron's lap, I kept searching the board. And there it was: an opening with the campus police. The UTPD was looking for a security guard. (With 50,000 students enrolled at the time, they needed the extra set of eyes.) The requirements? A background check, ability to work from 11 pm to 7 am on Friday & Saturday nights and a willingness to wear their uniform.

I'd passed my initial clearance with the Navy, so I wasn't worried about the 1st requirement. As for the graveyard hours, I was a student & already acclimated to near-zero sleep. And the last part—what was one more uniform in my closet? Plus, the job had to be more exciting than clearing tables & losing tips from my graceless ineptitude, right? It was!
The 2nd night I was on duty, one of the cops gave me a lift so I could join the guys for their 2 a.m. dinner break. Curtis & I never did make chow. He was forced to conduct a traffic stop due to a reckless driver. That stop ended prematurely when another reckless driver in a truck hurtled past. Not only had the truck been stolen from a campus construction site, it was filled with oxygen & acetylene bottles. Curtis hit the cruiser's lights, but the driver declined to stop, inviting us on an adrenaline-laden, high-speed chase down Austin's MLK boulevard instead. A string of cop cars later, the chase ended with the driver slamming into a massive brick wall. Fortunately, there was no explosion—just a suspect to take into custody & a crime scene to process.
Clueless daughter that I was, I promptly called my mother the following morning to share the exhilarating account in detail. Once I'd calmed her down, I realized sharing hadn't been the best of decisions. Hence, my mom never knew about the flooding in a dorm's electrical transformer room, the fire in the student union or the interstate accident Curtis & I responded to in lieu of another missed meal. The one in which the drunk driver walked away without a scratch—as I held his cousin's shredded leg together with my bare hands while Curtis & the EMTs tried to save the life of the driver's sister. (She'd gone through the windshield, so sadly, it didn't end well.) And I certainly didn't tell my mom about the night I ended up staring down the wrong end of a cop's 9mm while assisting in the clearing of the campus chemistry building following an intruder alert. But, I can honestly say that I had the coolest part-time job in college. Definitely more exciting than waiting tables. Plus, it came with fantastic future writing/research tips! ☺️
It goes without saying that interacting with & learning from Curtis & the rest of those amazing guys only enhanced my appetite for police procedurals. No doubt that job, along with my Navy & Army experiences, explains why my protagonists tend to be military detectives, or some variation thereof. As to why my plots tend to dip into the geopolitical sphere...the blame for that belongs to my degree (political science) as well as my other part-time job in college: I spent a summer in Washington, DC, as US Congressional Intern. Yep, I learned to tell tall tales & outright lie from the masters! 
Candace Irving working for UTPD
And now you know why my characters & plots have a weird military/crime/political mashup to them. Write what you know...and make up the rest. 😉
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