On the drive into work today it occurred to me last month marked my thirtieth year in bail. The ink was barely dry on my diploma from Plano Senior High School in December 1981 when I took a job as a runner for Guaranty Bail Bonds in downtown Dallas. While I’m a second generation bondsman, my first job was not working for my father, Jack Whitlock (though I would eventually work for him for more than 20 years), but my older brother who actually got me a job as a runner. My brother got out of the business and while I didn’t know it at the time, bail became my career choice.
The life of a bond runner is far from glamorous. It’s a hard job, you’re effectively a gofer. Go post this bond, go wait for the defendant to be released, take an application, call the client with his court date, etc. I went through more than one set of tires on my ’78 Nova, running bonds to jails all over Dallas County. Only bondsmen and law enforcement can recognize the particular fragrance defendants can acquire after a night in jail. Aside from that, most clients were glad to see me, as I was their savior of the moment. Most were good people going through a bad experience.
I also recall working the graveyard shift, when downtown Dallas was asleep and eerily quiet. Parking was not a problem that time of night and if I paced myself, I could make every green light on Commerce Street as I returned from posting a bond at the county jail. Still the nights were endless and unforgiving.
I worked for three bonding companies before going to work for Texas Fire & Casualty as a bottom rung claims processor. It was at TF&C, and a year later at Allied Fidelity, I first started working with the likes of Don Floyd (GA), Marvin Byron (CA), Bud Goldberg (MN), Carl Guillory (LA) and Linda Braswell (FL), the current president of PBUS. Good people all.
I learned a tremendous amount during my first five years in bail which helped me through the subsequent twenty-five and today. It’s when I began working with bail agents in nearly every state in the country I really began seeing the big picture of what commercial bail means to the criminal justice system and the forces who work to eliminate our profession. The few years I spent in retail has helped me relate to the bail agents I’ve contracted through the years.
Bail has become my passion. Working in this profession has allowed me to provide for my family. I’ve been truly blessed to work with my father for more than twenty years and have partners like Bill Carmichael and P.J. Longstreth and work with a great staff of experienced good people. The bail agents I work with everyday are hard working decent people trying to make a difference and my wife Marcia and our kids who have been tolerant of my odd work hours and extended travel schedule. It’s been a good ride so far and I’m looking forward to many more years working in this noble profession. Happy New Year!