January 4, 1909
Every hour of the day and every day of the week from a half to a dozen people from all walks of life sit in the big waiting room adjoining the private offices of Mayor Thomas T. Crittenden, Jr., in the city hall waiting to get "a word with the mayor." The visitors attract little if any attention from the other throngs that pass in and out of the building, so today when an unconcerned appearing man takes his place with the other callers at the mayor's offices, and mingles among them in an unconscious sort of way there is no possibility of his presence exciting more than passing notice. But after he repeats for days his presence he will then become an object of notice, and people will begin wondering and asking why he is there and what is the necessity for his continual attendance. Then it will all come out.
The mysterious stranger is a police officer, and he is there to deal with cranks, near-cranks and other objectionables that are making life burdensome to the mayor. This class of individuals is fast becoming a pest, and Mayor Crittenden has had some experience with them of late that has induced him to follow out the rule in vogue in the offices of mayors of other cities and have an officer at arm's length when emergency demands. Very often, too, the mayor is requested by citizens to have a service performed that he cannot impose consistently upon his private secretary, and in instances of this kind "the mayor's office" will be quite handy. Officially, however, the officer will be expected to be the crank squelcher.
"I had hoped that there would be no publicity over the detail of an officer to my offices," said the mayor yesterday, "but as it has gotten out there is nothing left for me to do but say that it is a usual thing for an officer to be in the mayor's offices in other cities. There is always more or less need for an officer in city hall."
"It is said you are becoming more frightened over visits from cranks, and consider the need of protection," it was suggested.
The mayor laughed heartily, and while he would not concede that cranks were altogether responsible for the detail of an officer for the mayor's protection, still indirectly they had something to do with it.
"Every day in the week," continued the mayor, "I have from fifty to 100 callers and I have to listen to them. Eighty per cent of my visitors have to be directed to the heads of other departments, and the other 20 per cent are politicians with an ax to grind, job hunters and cranks.
"Then you do have visits from cranks?"
"Yes, a great many and they are extremely annoying. It was not so very long ago that a fellow called upon me, and insisted that I, and only I, could remove a hypnotic spell that was upon him. I jollied him until I could summon an officer from headquarters, and I never passed a more unpleasant ten minutes waiting for the officer to report. The fellow was put under restraint, and to pacify him I underwent a sham performance as if removing the hypnotic spell. I don't know as I succeeded, but I have since learned that the fellow is now a raving maniac.
"A professional man who is having troubles, and whose sanity has been questioned, is becoming intolerably annoying. He is persisting that I give him a permit to carry a gun, and he believes that if I only would that I can patch up his marital woes. Every time he comes in here his eyes look glassier, and he acts more like a madman. On his last visit his eyes looked like two electrical bulbs to me.
"Friday forenoon while I was my busiest I was called from my office by a man whom I immediately sized up to be a crank. I had never seen him before, still he greeted me with the cordiality of lifetime friends and was disagreeably familiar.
" 'I want a job and I want it quick,' said the stranger.
" 'There are no jobs to be given out; this is the dull season in municipal matters,' I replied.
" 'Give me a job, and I'll tell you how you can make a million dollars,' the fellow whispered confidentially into my ears.
" 'I can't barter away city jobs for my own personal gain,' I told the man, and he became quite demonstrative. It was self-evident that the fellow had to be solaced, and I invited him to call on me again and I would see about giving him work.
" 'Remember,' he flashed back, as he departed, 'get me a job and there is a million in it for you.' "
"The cranks are not confined wholly to the men. I have calls from women cranks and they are the hardest to dispose of. Quite recently I had a woman on the shady side of 40 implore of me to use my influence with a youngster still in his teens to be responsive to her love and affection for him. The woman said that the object of her heart had repelled all her devotion for him, and that without his love and esteem life to her was not worth the living. To be rid of her I made a promise to see the young man, and when she calls again she will be introduced to the officer in waiting."