Collins: Roger Parks

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Now I've lived an interesting life, and been one of those people that things either happen to, or happen around. A lot of those experiences aren't necessarily things that I'd wish for; but heck, if I learn from them then they aren't a complete waste. Many that start hearing the extent of my life stories, start staring at me, agape in disbelief - or often just look at me with skepticism, and assume that I have to be a bullshitter, because that doesn't happen to one person (until I present witnesses or evidence). But I've lived a pretty bland life compared to some I know... and a few of those I worked with a Collins. Dr. Roger Parks was one of them.

Dr. Roger Parks

Roger was my boss at Rockwell. We got along well from the start.

He was a Vietnam veteran, who was an ex-green beret (as if you are ever an "ex" special forces person), who spoke many languages, and had a fake knee because of it being shot out in the war. I was equally shell shocked as a hyper post-teen, ex-abused kid, martial artist that would jump like a cat at strange sounds. People accused me of having post-traumatic stress disorder. My friends used to love scaring me, from a distance, because I would leap so far and fast or fly into a fighting stance. I've mellowed since then, but I've always been an early riser, as was Roger.

The first time we came around the corner at Rockwell at 5:30 am, and scared the shit out of each other, and both dropped into our respective fighting stances out of reflex, we became friends. Of course he was a bad-ass that weighed about 3 of me, but that I had similar reactions as he did, bonded us.

No good deed...

He and I chatted, and he told me various stories of his past, as did I. His were more colorful at the time; and to this day.

One Monday, Roger was looking particularly glum. I was asking him about it. He was down because he'd been in a murder interrogation over the weekend. Gosh, and I'd only gone skydiving, had a malfunction and lived to tell about it.

He had a girl friend that was trying to straighten up, and she'd dumped her old boyfriend; who had a drinkin' and drugin' problem. The boyfriend was violent and she asked Roger to stay over. She was scared. And in the middle of the night, the boyfriend kicked in the front door. Roger, who was sleeping on the couch, drew his gun and put two through the ten-ring; sheer reflex. That means he double-tapped the guy with a .45, and dropped him dead in the doorway. I think the guy provides a valuable life lesson to the survivors about, "don't kick in doors where ex-special forces guys who still sleep with their guns might be". Or the much broader, "don't kick in doors".

The police came, and they tend to frown on bodies (and the paperwork that comes with them). Yes, Roger had a permit to carry; though you don't need one when you are inside your house. And yes, the body had a knife next to it by the time the cops got there. (I hear it had the knife with it when it came in). But the Cops still don't like the paperwork that comes with a body, and they share the pain with long interrogations. Roger looked a little bushed.

In the end the shooting was righteous and nothing ever came of it (other than a funeral), and Roger was back to work on Monday at the regular time. But it sounded like quite a pain the ass. (From the description of the abusive, drug-dealing ex, society was saved the cost of multiple investigations and incarceration).

Doctor Parks

Roger had gone through Medical training, and was going to be a Doctor. He'd done the whole Michael Crichton thing; of getting into his residency before dropping out. So he had the doctors sense of humor about gore; and was telling war stories about working in a trauma center in a bad area of NYC, long before Rudolph Giuliani cleaned up crime.

A lot of the stories just reminded me of both the fragility, and survivability of human life. There were stories about some poor sod, slipping on his steps, and just being DOA, and so on. Or how many people straining on the pot to bust a vessel and keel over, and so on. There were the gory or kinky stories, like the guy who was getting oral sex from his girlfriend when she has a seizure and chewed him to bits. (That's break the trust bond between couples). Or the really strange things people would get stuck inside them as various marital aides.

But there were also just stories that made you think. One I thought about long since, was of a guy that came in holding the back of his head, complaining that he had been knocked out and mugged just a couple blocks away. They look at his wound, and find a bullet hole. Someone had come up behind him, and shot him in the back of the head and taken his money. The bullet had gone into his cranium but had managed not to take out anything the guy needed. The bullet was lodged in the front, but hadn't exited. So they basically just relieved the pressure, and with some recovery, the guy lived.

Another was of two guys brought in that were both bleeding all over the place. The bigger of the guys (who was perforated with like 6 gun shot wounds), was cursing and relaying how the little spic pulled a gun on him and tried to rob him, so he pulled a knife. So the other guy shot him, so he stabbed him, so the other guy shot him again, so he kept stabbing him. In the end, the guy that was shot lived, the other did not. He disproved the old cliché of never bring a knife to a gun fight. I was thinking, the money was probably cheaper than the surgeries to get the bullets, and rehab is never a fun route to take.

Comrades

Roger had his own "interesting" event with the DoD.

Sometimes, when you have a security clearance, you are given your own file cabinet or drawer that you are responsible for. It is obviously lockable, and supposed to be secured, and you have procedures about taking stuff out, and so on. And the procedures get more elaborate the more sensitive the data. The most annoying ones are when it can't leave a room, and you can only read anything if you have someone watching you (and making sure you aren't photographing anything). But most stuff is less secure than that, you just have to file it, and keep it locked.

Roger wrote and spoke like 7 Languages; one of them Russian (he was Special Forces). This was during the height of the Cold War and Reagan's "evil empire" rhetoric (legitimate rhetoric, but rhetoric none-the-less). So in some pithy mood, Roger decided to labeled his entire file cabinet in Cyrillic (Russian); he figured he was being more secure, since most Americans don't read Russian, so would have a tougher time finding things, and he had an ironic sense of humor. Either way, his files were labeled in Russian.

Well, one day the DoD did a spot audit, on his filing cabinet. Remember when I said they have a limited sense of humor? They went ape, and had many people come in, and interviewed Roger and others. They were less than amused at a secured filing cabinet labeled in Russian. He kept pointing out that American's don't usually read Cyrillic so it was more safe. But they were yelling that, the Russians could read it easier -- and were unimpressed with him questioning them as to what a Russian was doing in a secure facility and a secured cabinet? And if they were in there, they and facilities were the ones who'd failed to do their jobs, not him. They didn't like his logic (or attitude). I loved it.

Conclusion

Roger and I chatted for many months after I left; and I helped him with editing a fiction book he was writing for a while. But of course we lost touch after a few years. Which seems to be the case with most people at most of my consulting gigs; I really only kept in touch with one person (one of the SysAdmins), and that was because he became one of martial arts students, and we saw each other for years outside the office.

But it is always amusing to think back on the stories and experiences Roger had told, and remember that at Rockwell he was one of the tame ones.