“HOW YA DOIN’?”
With these four syllables, delivered in an unmistakably authentic New York accent, Steve Osborne has riveted thousands of people at the legendary storytelling venue The Moth (and many tens of thousands more via YouTube) with his hilarious, profane, and touching tales from his twenty years as an NYPD street cop. Steve Osborne is the real deal, people: the tough, streetwise New York cop of your dreams, one with a big, big heart. Kojak? NYPD Blue? Law & Order? Fuggedaboudem! The Job blows them out of the water.
Steve Osborne has seen a thing or two in his years in the NYPD—some harmless, some definitely not. In “Stakeout,” Steve and his partner mistake a Manhattan dentist for an armed robbery suspect, and reduce the man to a puddle of snot and tears when questioning him. In “Mug Shot,” the mother of a suspected criminal makes a strange request and provides a sobering reminder of the humanity at stake in his profession. And in “Home,” the image of Steve’s family provides the adrenaline he needs to fight for his life when assaulted by two armed and violent crackheads.
From stories about his days as a rookie cop to the time spent patrolling in the Anti-Crime Unit—and his visceral, harrowing recollections of working during the weeks after 9/11—The Job: True Tales from the Life of a New York City Cop captures the humanity, the absurdity, and the dark humor of police work, as well as the bravery of those who do it. These stories will speak to those nostalgic for the New York City of the 1980s and ’90s, a bygone era when the city was a crazier, more dangerous (and possibly more interesting) place.
In this engaging memoir, Osborne, a former NYPD lieutenant, shares the highs and lows of the two decades he spent tussling with the worst that the Big Apple had to offer. Raised in blue-collar Jersey City with a cop father, Osborne knew early on that he wanted to take down the bad guys some day. He chose to work graveyard shifts in bad neighborhoods, which provided him with thrills, good arrest stats, and stories worth telling, including an account of a run-in with a Wall Street rapist and a close encounter with a subway train. Osborne first presented much of this material via the Moth, a storytelling series, and because each Moth story is treated as a standalone, some jokes and phrases are repeated in the book. Yet the public origin of the stories surely helped Osborne develop the frank and intimate voice that suffuses his prose. At times, he comes across as a crusty cop with heart of gold, but his humor, sensitivity, and attention to detail transcend that stereotype. Osborne's personal life is described only obliquely in the book, including his reasons for leaving the NYPD (although the chapter on 9/11 provides clues), but this is a solid insider's account of what life is like on the force.