Today, Ma’am, DEA Stands For “Darn Earnest Apology”

May 4, 2012


Terrifying News item: After a drug raid at UC San Diego, engineering student Daniel Chong was questioned by DEA agents, after which he was locked in a 5-by-10 windowless room.  He was left there for 4 days without food or water after agents “forgot” he was there.  After being accidentally discovered and spending 5 days in the hospital, he is expected to survive and recover.  An apology has been offered to the family.

Because that ought to fix it.


Okay.  It’s ringing.  Deep breath.  Confident but sincere.  Confident but sin-

Ah, hello?  Mrs. Chong? This is special agent Bill Showerman at the DEA.  Um, hi… how are you?  No, scratch that.  Silly question.  Just a little nervous.


I just wanted to call and say, gosh, you know… we’re just really, really sorry about that whole… thing.  Really sorry.  You should see the guys here at the office.  Everybody looking down, listless… everyone just feels really bad about this.  If someone walked in to our offices off the street, they’d think someone had died.  Heh.  Which, you know, I think it’s important to note, no one did.

Water under the… uh, yes ma’am – that would be the water your son didn’t have four days. That’s true…

How is Danny doing?  Can I call him Danny?  No?  Oh.  Fair enough.  How is… your son… doing?  No permanent organ damage?  Well, that’s super.  Really.  Everyone’s going to be just tickled to hear it.  Tickled.  Because, again, we’re just super sorry.  But sounds like he’s going to be fine.  Why, this will all be water under the bridge before you know it.  Under the old bridge.  A thing of the past.  An anecdote.

Silly mix up, right?  Just… silly.  Do you know I forget where my car keys are, like, every day?  Ha ha.

No, of course that’s not the same thing.  I didn’t mean… yes… sure, I can imagine you do feel that way… I just meant… never mind.

Hm?  No, of course it’s not a regular policy at the DEA throw people in cells and leave them to starve.  You’re thinking of the CIA.  Just a little joke there.  Lighten the mood.  No, ma’am, I have no idea how it happened; can’t figure out how we didn’t hear his cries for help.  Maybe if he’d pounded SOS against the door or something.  No, I’m not saying he’s to blame, of course I’m not saying that.  I’m just saying I don’t know how it all happened.

As you’re locking that suspect in a room, without food or water or a toilet, stop and ask yourself: Am I trying to do too many things at once? Should I write this down?

Rest assured, Mrs. Chong, we’re making every effort to make sure it never happens again.  Well, for starters, we’re putting a big sign over the front doors that read “Before you go: Did you leave anyone locked in a windowless room today?”  Also, everyone is going to have to attend a mandatory “Don’t Lock People In Empty Rooms For 4 days” seminar.   Uh, I think the brochure said it’s about 3 hours long.  Yeah, there’s a guy out of Tallahassee;  there’s a seminar for everything these days, isn’t there?

Hey, here’s some good news! The whole drug possession charge thing?  Forgotten.  Like it never happened.  Well, that’s true that he was never formally charged before… you know… but still!  Isn’t that exciting?  Just our little way of, you know, making things right.  Because of how sorry we are.  And in the interest of putting this… you know, unpleasantness… in the past.  I think that’s what we all want, isn’t it?  Not to dwell on this?  Especially in, say, a legal setting?  A lawsuit…type… situation…?  Don’t you think?  Sure, you know, whatever you think.  Just a thought.

Well, I don’t want to keep you.  Tell that son of yours that we think he’s one tough fella.  We could use a guy like him here at the DEA if he ever… no, sure, probably not.  I’m just saying… One tough fella, is my point.

So, take care.  And again, you know… sorry.  Just totally our fault.  Really.  Big, fat oops.

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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37 Comments on “Today, Ma’am, DEA Stands For “Darn Earnest Apology””

  1. Christina Says:

    Poor Daniel! Good to hear he’s well…gosh I wish this conversation really did take place!


  2. Valentine Logar Says:

    Don’t you think they need the shite kicked out of them? Perhaps urine laced coffee? Can you imagine getting that call?


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Well, and of course there probably wasn’t really a phone call. Just a press conference with “It is certainly not the policy of the DEA…”

      That would be reasonable, though, wouldn’t it? Sue them, not for money, but to get to drop by the DEA office whenever you feel like it and punch people in the face.


      • Valentine Logar Says:

        Yes, that is reasonable. Though urine laced coffee would work for me. They likely would not know the difference. So money, punch in face at random and whenever the desire hit + urine coffee. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.


  3. 1pointperspective Says:

    Brilliantly written! I can only imagine the agents shifting nervously from foot to foot as they drew straws to see who the guy was who got to make the call.
    Thanks for the smile.


  4. Anastasia Says:

    If it were me I wouldn’t ask for much, but I guarantee I’d be debt free with a little nest egg after I got done with them. This story was just….SO….ugh! Nice to know DEA is *that* stupid.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      It’s literally a nightmarish story, isn’t it? There really is no correct response. It’s a government agency, so suing them doesn’t actually hurt them, but what else can you do?


  5. Life With The Top Down Says:

    Honestly, anything other than … “My Bad” and “Who should I make the check payable to?” wouldn’t even be heard by these ears.


  6. MJ, Nonstepmom Says:

    Well done sir ! But I heard an interview on NPR with the student and he is saying he was not “forgotten” – he could hear people just outside and was yelling to them etc. – he’s not buying the “we forgot” excuse.
    First secret service, now DEA…..think its time to clean house !


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I agree – I’m sure they thought it was just someone refusing to quiet down so they ignored his surprisingly effective impression of someone terrified and dehydrated.


  7. Soma Mukherjee Says:

    Brilliant write up….loved the captions they are so hilarious…


  8. becomingcliche Says:

    I rely on you to keep me up to date with the news, you know. Because you cover it better, anyway.


  9. Catherine Johnson Says:

    I caught that headline this morning, it makes you feel sick. This post is awesome!


  10. pegoleg Says:

    As long as the apology was earnest, I don’t know what more Mr. Chong expects?

    The thing that TICKS me off so bad is that the beaucoup $$ he’s sure to get, with good reason, doesn’t hurt the govt any. It comes from you and me.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I agree. When suing damages a company for its wrongdoing, there’s a sense of justice to that. But next year? The DEA won’t be operating at a $20 million deficit.


  11. madtante Says:

    Complete shit to hold him responsible for his family’s wrongdoings.


  12. Running from Hell with El Says:

    I am incensed to hear what happened to this man. My husband and I were talking about it last night . . . and yes, he deserves to be compensated for his injuries, but it is frustrating that we taxpayers will bear the brunt of it.


  13. Alison Armstrong Says:

    I wonder if the prison guard who found him was the guy saying “It’s not supposed to be my job to check if the rooms have been cleaned, that’s Frank’s job, that is.” Lately I’ve been feeling that way about the music rooms in my care… don’t pass the buck, just don’t. Particularly when your choice is cockroaches and dead people, or just cleaning up after people who haven’t done their job.


  14. Audrey Says:

    It’s stories like this that make me wonder how our government even manages to function on a daily basis… I need to move to my private island STAT!


  15. gojulesgo Says:

    OMG. This would SO happen to me. When I had to get a physical before starting my current job, they left me in an examining room for almost an hour, while I heard the doctor chatting on the phone to her family in her office. Note that I had just had my standard panic attack because of getting blood drawn. I wandered to the front desk after 40 minutes, but no one was there. Then finally Dr. Dingaling came in and said she didn’t know I was waiting all that time! Guess whose blood pressure was sky high (and whose rear was sticking to paper)?

    This post really made me giggle (“…that would be the water your son didn’t have four days,” tee hee!). You know, despite dredging up bad memories. 😉


  16. Lorna's Voice Says:

    This is an example of government bureaucracy at it’s finest: if the wheel isn’t squeaking (or the prisoner isn’t screaming), don’t fix it (or check for signs of a law suit). 😉

    By the way, I found you through your interview of Peg. Love your style! 🙂


  17. tomwisk Says:

    Those scamps at DEA. I guess a day of knocking down doors and investigating the guy who has one pot plant growing in his spare bedroom makes remembering a prisoner a moot point. $20 M ain’t enough, maybe an overhaul would do.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Yeah, but that guy with the pot plant will get sent away for the next 20 years, thus ensuring the safety of an entire community from that monster. So, totally worth it.


  18. benzeknees Says:

    Love the way you handled this! Being Canadian I don’t always hear your news, so this was an interesting way to learn of this faux pas


  19. Remediator Says:

    Wouldn’t it be more fun if the DEA had to operate with $ 20M less? The agents should be required to raise the money through raffles and bake sales. After all, that is what would be required of a school district.


  20. Michelle Gillies Says:

    When my therapist is trying to prescribe some zombie drug for me because she can’t understand how I can be so horrified by something while at the same time being so amused, my plan is to explain that I keep up to date with the American news via “Byronic Man Headline News”


  21. spilledinkguy Says:

    ‘We’ll even send you a DEA hat. Our treat. Just pay shipping and handling.’


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