Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Brief Career in Law Enforcement

(Another previously unpublished post per request of my friends who read my blog as part of their court-ordered community service. This one is from October, 2009. I did not post it before because it reveals how stupid I can be. I post it now because... I have no idea why I am posting this.)

Well, my fun career in law enforcement came to an abrupt end, and it had nothing to do with marijuana as had been prognosticated by the tie-dye-clad Unitarians of my mother's generation. (I passed my drug tests, Uncle Jethro. Can you say the same?)

No, the State Police of this beautiful Commonwealth and I turned out to have many things in common, much to our surprise, and would have most likely remained a good employment fit. Some examples:

1) We both think that it is safer to gargle pesticides than to drive during rush hour.

2) We feel that the world is a better place when people are allowed to use the full extent of their language mastery, particularly in times of stress and aggravation even if those times are during working hours. Our shared motto: Metaphor is more meaningful when paired with profanity.

3) We are all addicted to FarmVille, YoVille, Mafia Wars, or all of the above.

4) We are hard on our automobiles.

There were other similarities involving WaWa sandwiches, karaoke, and that holiest of beverages - beer, but let me just say that we ended up getting along better than anyone would have thought considering my strong predilection for pacifism and fondness for Nobel Peace Prize recipients, and their affection for carrying a varied inventory of weapons both in full view and concealed.

So there we were getting along and trying new things... in my case: new combinations of bad words, in their case: listening to a preacher try out new combinations of bad words... when cruel fate intervened severing us like star-crossed Shakespearean tweens.

The deus ex machina in our little one-act turned out to be the Governor who laid off 596 employees of the Commonwealth, an inordinate amount of whom were female, and #347 was yours truly. Serious bummer. They got my girls Ollie and Tonia, too. My brilliant new career cut short by budget cuts.

I was really in a ^&$$#* of a mood about the whole thing and was able to say exactly that during working hours, but I am old enough to know when a relationship was not built to last (or I am cynical) and recovered fairly quickly. In the end, I had to admit that we had a communication problem as so many relationships do. For all we had found in common, there were some chasms that perhaps should not be crossed.

It started with the fact that they refer to one another as numbers. "Have you seen that slackass 2929's new ride?" Or "What does 6737 have a booger up his butt about?" Or my personal favorite from a dispatcher, "What the hell? Is 1040 waiting for an engraved invitation to get in on this pursuit? Come on, knuckle head, COWBOY UP!"

I love that talk but I couldn't remember anyone's numbers. I knew the name of the king of drunk driver catchers, the sweet man who brought us coffee at 3AM, and the one who looked like a slightly redneck Richard Gere. I could remember the trooper who is named after a famous mystery writer, the one whose name should be a hero in a romance novel, and of course the one who shared my last name and called me 'Cuz. But I was no good at calling people by a number. As a dispatcher, that became problematic. You don't get to blab on the radio, "Dave, sugar, you got a possible drunk driver headed toward you. If it's one of my relatives, remind them about the Christmas gift exchange this year, 'Cuz."

Then there was the military-like insistence that natural human reactions should be avoided at all costs. The nature of law enforcement work on our highways necessitates a shockingly high instance of on-the-job encounters with body parts that have left their owners. It is my personal opinion that a person who sees another person in parts should be given some emotional distance should they need it. The cadre agrees with me in writing. The men and women who serve live by their own code, however, so woe unto those who slip into normal human responses. I kept my opinion to myself on this.

So, we had our differences, too. And then there was this colossal miscommunication...

I decided from my gleanings on shifts that there was an epidemic of religious intolerance in the force. I was very wrong but had copious examples and a whopping case of antibiotic resistant dingbat to support my conclusion.

As I give examples, insert a religious persuasion with which you are familiar (like Presbyterian, Quaker, or Theravada Buddhist) anywhere you see the five capital X's.

An agent says to a dispatcher supervisor, "Did I ever tell you about the time 1999 and I were at that bar off duty and he realizes that the guy he's been talking to all night on the next stool was, of all things, a XXXXX!"

Or, "Yeah, that lardass pulls over a XXXXX all by himself and doesn't give a location, the numbskull! Like anyone wants to risk hanging out on the side of the highway in the middle of the night alone with one of them."

And, "You don't hear much about those XXXXX's any more. They're killing their own selves off at this point."

I did not like what I heard but the more I heard it I realized that the prejudice was at every level of the force. The State Police had seen too much unlawful activity perpetrated by XXXXX's and they were not going to put up with it.

I wanted to tell them they were wrong. I wanted to tell them that the XXXXX's I know throw delicious vegetarian potlucks and celebrate Earth Day. I wanted them to know about the XXXXX priestess I know well who is a devoted friend, grandmother, and teacher. I know there is a lot of ignorance in this country regarding XXXXX's but could not believe that the State Police would be of one accord about a religion. And yet, they were.

Thanks be to all that is holy that for once in my life, just once... I kept my giant, chatty mouth shut.

Because one day some pictures of some XXXXX's came across the wire as persons of interest in some tale of illegal activity and general violent nefariousness. And I looked at them. And I thought to myself, "If that's a XXXXX, they must be a Yankee XXXXX because they would not fit in with the Virginia XXXXX's at all!" Maligning kind, sweet Yankees from Maryland to Maine in defense of Virginia XXXXX's, I swear to you, I really was this stupid.

For the record, there is no religious intolerance epidemic in our State Police. There is concern over the safety for the citizens and officers of the Commonwealth regarding an outlaw motorcycle gang who happen to go by the very same name as a group of peaceful, nature-based spiritual practitioners. The motorcycle gang tend to draw their weapons on law enforcement, while my friends celebrate the cycles and seasons of the Earth and make good tabbouleh.

In case you are as sheltered as I... you say Pagan, I say Pagan. And the governor called the whole thing off.


John Rice said...

Nice post...!!!

John@ Career Options

ms. kitty said...

I love reading your posts-poned, AC. Thanks for bringing them up to the light.

Frank D. said...

Just checked out your blog. Nice to hear from you again in the blogosphere.

Looks like you still have time to train for that RA Yoga Flexibility Challenge fund raiser we talked about last year.