The microwave

Law enforcement is mostly serious business, but sometimes it can give you a laugh or two….

One of the nag jobs one had to do at DEA was Duty Agent. The Duty Agent mostly handled incoming calls from tipsters for a week from generally unbalanced people while attempting to keep his or her own sanity. Duty Agent calls, however, were not without their moments of levity.  Like the call I took one hot summer night right while I was assigned to the DC office from a man who was convinced that the statue of the Virgin Mary was talking to him and telling him about a big drug stash located on a boat in the Chesapeake Bay.

One other duty call I took some years ago while assigned to a small office in Virginia stands out as well. “Am I speaking with an agent?” The caller asked. “Yes,” I replied, how can I help you?”   “Listen, my name is Billy Ray, and I have to tell you, I am a convicted felon, but I am not a liar!” “Okay” I answered, “good to know.” He continued. “Your DEA airplane (I had no idea how he had surmised that this “plane” he was seeing was ours) keeps circling over the corn field at Larry’s farm.   I have to tell you something; your guys are missing the drugs! Larry has them right in his shed by his house, and your guy can’t see them!   How can your pilots be so incompetent? They need to fix this right away! I have tried to wave to the guys in the plane to direct them to the right spot, but they seem to be ignoring me (go figure)”

“ Sir, I will get right on that” I answered, “but I have a couple of questions. Do you have any aluminum foil in your house?”   “Sure” the caller said. “What about a microwave?” I continued, “do you have one of those?”   Billy Ray hesitated a bit “Err, yes, I have one of those too. Use it at least once a day”   “Is the microwave close to the aluminum foil?” I asked. “Yep” he answered, “I keep the foil right above the microwave.”   I sighed for a second “well, there you have it, the problem is not our pilots. It’s you. Your using that microwave close to the foil; and this is generating waves that are jamming our reconnaissance equipment. Would you please do your country a favor and stop doing that?” Billy Ray was apologetic “wow, I am so sorry. I will throw out all of the foil right away!” I thanked him for calling and let him know that while he could call back anytime (preferably when some one else was duty agent). A few days later, I came in from the street and found a phone message on my desk from our group assistant “Billy Ray called. He said he has thrown out all of the aluminum foil in his house, but he just can’t part with the microwave!”