Cast of Characters:
DEA Special Agent Steve, Leader of our International Team.
Agent Steve was a natural leader with a commanding presence. He was the planner, street smart, a no-nonsense kind of guy. He wore his gun like Dirty Harry and had a “make my day” attitude toward perps.
He is from New England, short and stocky, with blue eyes, light brown hair, and a light complexion. Agent Steve and I hit it off well from the beginning. Perhaps because he had been a cop for such a long time, he knew I didn’t belong in this situation, but he was going to teach me something my parents never taught me. That is, you’re responsible for your actions and you will make this right! He gave me a chance to redeem myself, and I didn’t let him down. He also literally saved my life. If it weren’t for him, I would be six feet under. More on that in the book. One time when he was putting on his gear and we were about to meet a suspect, I was holding my cell phone in my hand. He said, “JJ, CIs have been shot for holding their cell in that manner. If you don’t need it, keep it put away! I said, “Copy that” and immediately put it my pocket! Before Steve left for a promotion in Washington D.C., he looked me in the eye and shook my hand and said, “JJ, you can work with me any time. If you need anything you call me. You have done excellent work for the DEA, a good job, and you got yourself out of this mess.”
I’m grateful to Agent Steve and others on the team, not just for saving my life, but for giving me mine back, for teaching me how to take responsibility and be a man.
Excerpted from the forthcoming memoir, The Baggage Handler.