Early Traveler. 

The sun isn’t up yet. Beyond the windows of the airport terminal, the only lights are the orange dots of building lights and the runway bulbs, lined like troops in the darkness. 

Bleary-eyed people start to fill the gate areas to board flights to all corners of everywhere. I’m seated in what seems like an unnecessarily uncomfortable metal chair with only the slightest hint of a vinyl cushion, watching the world around me. My own flight has been delayed. Significantly. I’ve been rerouted and shuffled, such that my arrival in Louisville Kentucky is a full ten hours later than initially scheduled. Part of me expects a full cancelation at any time. 

With four and a half hours to go until I board, I spent far too much money on coffee and reading material, but since I usually work overnight and this time of day is my ‘evening’ I’m too wide awake to sit still and read for too long. The large blonde roast from the concourse Starbucks may also have something to do with my alertness. 

The gate next to mine begins to board. Folks from obviously seasoned passengers to confused-looking children clutching backpacks and carry-ons filter through the nylon-taped aisle and vanish beyond the ticket agent, who seems a bit more chipper than I am comfortable with for this time of day. 

My own gate sees very little activity. No ticket agent punching keys at the computer, no line of people. We’ve got a long wait yet. 

I say ‘we’ – there are two of us. Myself, and a black-clad young priest standing in a corner hunched over a tablet of some kind, a far cry from the image of the priests I remember as a kid- old, and about as likely as your average grandparent to be current with technology. 

Even as I write this though, “Boarding group 5” on the flight in the neighboring gate is called, and my unknowing companion packs up his tablet, and he too disappears through the door. 

I’m left alone at Gate A6. Me, my book, and my phone. 

I’m not much of a flier. The last time I flew on a plane was pushing ten years ago. I have no reservations about flying, in spite of having a close friend whose father was killed in a very public plane crash a few years back. It’s just that the opportunity or need never arose. 

I don’t even mind the delay. Things at work and at home have been going a thousand miles an hour for quite some time now, and this forces me to slow down. For several hours there’s nothing to do. No incidents to handle, reports to write, or various family matters to attend to. My only concern is that the damn digital marquis keeps the red letters “ON TIME” on it, instead of “CANCELED.” 

True, that’s a fairly large concern, seeing as how the ticketing agent told me there isn’t much likelihood of finding alternative travel arrangements, and more troubling, I was dropped off at the airport this morning, with no scheduled transportation home until Sunday afternoon. And if this flight gets canned, I stand a fair chance of missing a good friend’s wedding… Which I am in. 

Still, there’s nothing to do but wait. So that’s what I’ll do. 

Next to me, the recently busy gate is now empty but for the ticket agent, who- like me, has his face buried in his phone. 

My watch reads 6:20. Four hours until boarding. It may just be time to find something reminiscent of breakfast, and stare with exaggerated interest at the multitude of cultural and artistic pieces which line the garishly carpeted concourse hallways while listening to the repeated warning of not to take anyone else’s luggage on a plane with me. 

So begins my day. 

Reeling.

This isn’t the joyous and triumphant return to blogging that I’d hoped for.

6:00 Tuesday morning. I sat at the dispatch desk streaming a movie and trying to stay awake. With the students gone on break for a week, there isn’t a whole lot to do. All at once, my phone buzzed. It was the app the ambulance I work for uses to announce calls. Not being on duty with them, I glanced at it in passing.

“One car MVA with injuries.” The address was extremely close to where I live, just a few hundred yards as the crow flies. I closed the app, and went back to my efforts to stay awake for another hour until the day shift came to relieve me.

The drive home was uneventful, until I came to the intersection of my road and the state road. The state road was closed. Several fire trucks blocked it, and a few tired-looking firefighters directed traffic up the hill on my road to skirt around what I had deduced was the accident site.

I recognized a few of the guys, and thought about stopping, but I was exhausted, and there was a line of cars behind me. I went on up the hill, went home, saw the wife and little one off to pre-school, and went to bed.

At noon my wife woke me up, which is a little out of character.

“Do you know anything about that accident?”
“Only that it was with injuries. It came through on my phone.”
“It was a County Sheriff’s Deputy.” At this point, my sleepiness vanished as she said “Haverly.”

My stomach knotted at the catch in her voice, and I asked the next question, already knowing the answer. “Fatal?”
“Yes.”

The fucking world stopped.

When I started my first PD job, Deputy Haverly was one of the night guys from the county assigned to my zone. As a result, we saw a lot of each other. We spent quite a bit of time parked side-by-side running radar, backing each other up on traffic stops, and shagging calls together, including one where a crazed woman threatened to call the police on us if we didn’t get off her porch.

In short, he became a friend. We talked about a lot of things, both personal and professional. He gave me advice on what to do with the circumstances which led to my resignation from that first job, and offered to help me find another gig. Even after I left, we kept in touch, texting through late-night shifts.

It had been some time though, since we last spoke. And now he’s gone.

He leaves behind a fiancee and three young kids.

My entire county is in shock. He’d only had four years on the job, but he was damn good at it, and loved what he did.

We all know the risks that come with the uniform and the job. None of us are strangers to the idea that a ‘bad day’ at work means you might not come home. We’ve all seen the headlines, read the stories, and seen the news reports on TV about line of duty deaths. Unfortunately, they come with the job. But, like any other tragedy, we have a tendency to greet them with a bit detachment since they’re always ‘someplace else.’

We forget, that we are all ‘someplace else’ to ‘someone else.’

This time, it happened here.

On Monday, I attend my first police funeral. I told my supervisor I might need time off to attend, to which he replied “I already figured” and had started making arrangements to cover for me.

As shaken as I am, I cannot imagine how the brothers and sisters of the Sheriff’s office are dealing with this. They’re a top-notch organization with an exceptional esprit-de-corps. You can see it whenever you train or work with them. They’re excellent.

My worry also, is for the men and women who responded with my ambulance that morning. One of them, the driver, is another police officer, a veteran. He recanted the experience to me briefly via text, and it was enough to damn near break me as I sat having lunch with my son in a diner yesterday.

So, on Monday, a family of blood will mourn alongside a family of blue.

I don’t really know what else to say to be honest. It feels good writing about it. I don’t really feel like talking about anything with another person, but there’s a sort of vague comfort about talking about it to a handful of strangers on the internet.

Deputy Haverly was genuinely a good guy. Every time we met, he had a smile on his face. He worked hard, loved his job, loved his family, and would do anything for his friends. I’m glad as hell I got to call him a friend, and even happier that I can call him a brother.

 

 

 

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Comin’ Back. 

This morning I found a notification in my phone from WordPress that a reader had found and liked a post of mine from a while back. 

It started me to thinking about how long it’s been since I put anything here. 

Truth is, that I have really been focusing on my job the last few months. If you dig through my old content, you’ll see that a little over a year ago I landed a fantastic job, one that, for the first time since leaving college twelve years ago, I can see myself doing forever. I’m happy, it’s enabling me to support my family, and I work with some amazing people. 

But there was a catch. A small one. I was given an eighteen month probation period. As time went in and I was given more responsibilities and more freedom to do my job without a supervisor evaluating me, the weight of that probation became very heavy. So much is riding on this job, I couldnt afford to mess it up. 

As a result, my primary focus became doing the best job I can, and some smaller things, like this blog, didn’t make their way into my priorities list. 

But, there’s a smidgen of good news on the horizon, which I’ll share in an upcoming post. It could lead me back here with some regularity. 

One of the other reasons I’ve taken a bit of a break, and this one’s been intended – was because the social and political climate of my part of the world has been so caustic that it would have been difficult NOT to touch on it in posts, and I never wanted to do that here. Let’s face it, there’s plenty of unsolicited political commentary in our social media feeds already, the opinions of a thirty-three year old father of two whose biggest claim to fame is not burning the house down when he makes dinner isn’t exactly going to rate as ‘must read’ material. Yeah, I’ll throw up an opinion piece from time to time, but the way everything has been lately, it didn’t seem necessary or constructive to add any gasoline to the flames. 

I know what I think and feel, and am fully aware that this little parenting blog isn’t the platform to share it with the hopes of winning friends and influencing people. 

With that said, even though there are still a lot of concerns, the overall climate of the world around me seems to have become a little more temperate, and I may be able to come up with material without falling into the minefield of politics and social commentary. 

All this said, thanks for sticking around during my absence. Stand by for something worth reading. 

…. Probably. 

Thankful…and Then Some

Thanksgiving is over. We spent the day with my parents and sister at their house where we overate, played video games, and built things out of LEGO with the boys. It was, all-in-all, a very nice day.
But somewhere along the line, we got a phone call from my brother, which pushed the quality over the day from ‘nice’ to ‘excellent.’ You see, while the family was gathered in NY, he is in Texas, awaiting orders to deploy to Kuwait with his National Guard unit. His wife and mother-in-law had driven down there to see him for Thanksgiving, but he was able to call us. He spoke with everyone in turn, including my oldest son.

It was nice to hear from him and talk, even if it was just for a few minutes. Especially not knowing when we’ll get the opportunity to talk again, as he isn’t set to return home around this time next year.

We ate early since my sister had to leave for work around 3:30, and I needed to catch a nap before I left for work myself. My wife, kids and I left there a little after four, and I crashed on the couch while the boys watched cartoons and played. I don’t remember when I woke up exactly, but when I did, there was a few “Happy Thanksgiving” text messages from people which I responded to.

One though, was a complete surprise. A message from my friend Chris. Those of you who have been around a while might remember Chris from a brief post I did a while back: When I transported him to the hospital

The text simply read “Happy Thanksgiving.” Now, while he’s a friend of mine, this is literally the first text message I’ve ever gotten from, and I’d never sent him one either. Honestly, I don’t remember when we exchanged numbers. I thought it was a little odd to get a message from him, since we don’t see each on a regular basis, much less actually hang out or pal around. Still, you don’t let a greeting like that go by unnoticed. I responded in kind, and got another message from him. We texted for a few moments, and he updated me on the situation which led to his being transported to the hospital with me as the driver, a year or so ago. It was nice to know what he’d been up to and that he was doing better than he had been the last time I had seen him.

Then, he said something that I never, ever thought I’d have said. After he thanked me again for helping him that night, he told me “You helped save a life that night.”

In my line of work, and given all of the experience I’ve had with the ambulance and fire departments, I like to think that there have, in fact been a few instances where I’d been involved in lifesaving activities. Certainly one or two come to mind, but when you hear it coming from a childhood friend…it rings a little differently.

We wrapped up our conversation, and I started getting ready for work. I thought about Chris’s messages, and it got me thinking about all of the men and women who do jobs like that on a daily basis.

I work with men and women in law enforcement who are the most selfless people in the world. Along side them are the firefighters, EMS, dispatchers, corrections officers, and many others who contribute to the health and well being of humanity whenever they can, and that goes for the volunteers as well as the professionals.

So, along with the obvious thanks I have for a happy, healthy family and a decent job which I love very much, I am also grateful for the fact that I can be a part of a group of people who make a difference, not just to strangers at car accidents, but to our very friends and neighbors, even when they look you straight in the face from an ambulance stretcher and say “I’m not coming out of this alive.” The first response family is a huge one, and it includes some of the most dedicated, professional people I’ve ever had the privilege to know, and I am eternally thankful that I get a chance to live and work alongside them whenever I can.

 

 

I am Not a Good Hunter.*

I love hunting. I very much enjoy hunting small game, but every year at this time, the coveted rifle season opens.
I look forward to it all year long. I get a chance to get out into the woods by myself, and relax. Simply take some ‘me’ time. For a few hours every time I go out, nothing matters but what I’m out doing.

The thing is, I’m absolutely terrible at hunting, especially deer. I lack patience, and will often move from a spot long before I should, and be moving around when I should be sitting still. I don’t like the extreme cold, so when the temperatures are right for the deer to be out moving around, I stay in bed.

As much as I enjoy the sport, I am truly, truly lousy at it.

Last Saturday’s opening day hunt is a testament to my terribleness.

It started later than I like it to. I usually like to get into the woods long before sunup, but I was working on ambulance call until 6am. If no calls came in, I was out the door at 05:59:59. None did, so I packed up my gear, and was out the door. By the time I reached the spot where I like to hunt, the sun was up.

I parked my car, and cut into a field where I immediately kicked up three or four doe. No big deal, I didn’t have a doe tag, let ’em run….except…they ran DIRECTLY into the woods where I was headed, snorting and spreading the word that I was there. My hunt, I thought, was over before it had even started. Still. In I went. I made for the tree line, and started up a path which headed to a field where I like to sit for a few hours. The leaves and undergrowth were dry, so stealth was out of the question. I slowly picked my way through the trees up the trail when I started to hear the dreaded squirrels.

You see, for those of you that don’t hunt, the squirrel is a terrible creature. Capable of sounding like the antlered king of the forest as it scampers through the woods, It is responsible each year for more spikes in blood pressure than being pulled over by the police.
The first few times I heard the leaves rustle, I stopped and listened. “It’s a buck” I thought “Sure as hell, its one hell of a……goddamn it.” Squirrel. Every time.

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About an hour into my little walk through the woods, I found a place to take a small break. A downed pine tree. I sat for a while, and had a small snack. Off to my left, I hear the skittering again. I listen, and its stationary. Another freakin’ squirrel. I stood, squared away my kit, and decided to take a leak before I moved on. So I did. I dug through my layers of clothing, did my business, and prepared to set off.

The undergrowth rustled again, this time, accompanied by a stomp. WTF? Squirrels don’t stomp? Oh….shit, that’s a deer!

I knelt down and peered through a short stand of scrub pines. I see legs. Deer legs. Another stomp. There’s three or four deer, less than 40 yards away from me. An easy shot if they cleared the trees and entered the path. The sounds in the undergrowth stopped. Another stomp.

All of a sudden, a realization hit me. I was mere feet from where I had just relieved myself, and deer have a fantastic sense of….. *SNORT!* ……smell.

Damn it.

All of a sudden, they winded me. All of the animals in front of me bolted, never once even showing me if one of them was even a buck, much less giving me anything to shoot at.

Hunt all but over.

Still, I wasn’t sure when my next chance to get out was, so I pressed on, dejected. I found a nice rock to sit on for a while near some massive old oak trees, but nothing ever came along. Behind me, I started to hear something large moving around. I never got a visual on it, but it had to be one of the deer I had spooked. I started to stalk it, just in case it happened to be my quarry. As I did, I started hearing MORE noise, off to my right. Something else was coming up the path.

There’s a golden rule with hunting- never use your rifle scope to ‘glass’ anything. That is, its not binoculars, so don’t treat it like it is. Thankfully, with firearms safety being a massive thing in my life, I did not ‘glass’ this second noise, and its a good thing I didn’t, because it turned out to be another hunter.

Now, here’s where I take a little bit of solace.

See, as I mentioned, and have proven- I’m a lousy hunter….but there are those out there that are MUCH worse than I am. I watched the other hunter come up the path, and it was obvious that he had heard the same noise I had, we were essentially stalking the same animal. I stood still in the middle of the trail and watched him. Now, when I hunt, I dress with the blaze orange. I’m visible to other hunters…or so I thought. This guy, around fifty yards from me, was so focused on the noises ahead of him, that he never even saw me, another hunter, standing in the open wearing blaze orange. It was right there that I decided my hunt was, in fact over.

I made my way back home for a cup of coffee and a nice, long nap before I reported to work where I would largely exaggerate the details of my hunt, and leave out the embarrassing factoid that I had blown myself up with a little bit of wee when I spoke with my coworkers.

….If you see any of them, don’t say anything.

~AD

*Please do not bother to lecture me on how terrible hunting is or why I’m a savage for doing it. I don’t judge your hobbies, nor do I expect to change your mind with a scathing diatribe, please extend to me the same courtesy. Thank you.

 

It’s Over. I’m Back.

So if anyone’s still around, I took an extended break from this blog, on purpose this time.
Right around the last time I wrote an update, the U.S. Election was starting to heat up. I took a hiatus because it was way too tempting to come in here and start writing about it.

I even started a few posts that were related to the election and the candidates, but I realized that as a virtual nobody in the world of politics, my voice would be little more than a whisper in a room full of shouting.

I backed out, not wanting to clutter the readers of my blog with yet another politically oriented post.

There was, of course plenty of other things to talk about, but the spectre of politics was always there. Its been hanging over our heads like a storm cloud for months, and I really didn’t want to deal with the temptation of getting into it.

But now its over. Kind of. At least we’re at the point now where we know how it ended. Now we just have to clean up the mess we’ve been making for the last eighteen months. We need to wait a few more weeks for the initial emotional response to fade and we as a nation return to business as usual.

I will say simply this on the matter, than I’m gonna go back to my own ‘business as usual.’

We all have our own opinions on how the election went. We cast our votes, or our non-votes (which is a perfectly legitimate decision if you ask me) and stepped back to see how things shook out. For some, there’s fist-pumping joy. For others, head-hanging despair. For even others still, there’s a tumultuous sense of disbelief at the entire mess that was this cycle.

But the decision has been made. No amount of finger-pointing, or name-calling will change that. Yesterday is over, and how we act TODAY will matter tomorrow to our children. Will your children see you rioting in the streets because you didn’t get your way? Will your children see you handle defeat with grace and a newfound resolve to champion your cause? What lesson will they take when they turn the pages in their history books to see how their parents reacted to such a debacle that was the 2016 election?

As for me, on election night I was at work and an exuberant young student came up to me.

“Sir, can I ask you, who did you vote for?”

I told him a quick story.

When I was a little boy, my father took me to the polling place on election night. I can’t remember if it was a presidential or local election or what. We went into the booth, he pushed a few buttons and pulled a lever. When we came out, I asked him “Daddy, who did you vote for?”
His response was the same one I gave to the student at work. “When you’re in that booth, whomever you vote for is nobody’s business but your own.”

You probably won’t ever know where I landed in this election. You could try to guess, but does it matter? Is it really worth the effort? That’s not why I started this blog. Its not why I became a part of this online community where we share ideas, tell stories, and swap everything from recipes to parenting tips. Yeah, from time to time current events or political issues will become the topic of discussion, but when its this big, I think it should be a private matter and I’m not out to change any minds or influence anyone.

So. Politics be damned. AD is back to blogging.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

Yesterday was ‘National Coffee Day.’…as if I need a specific day to celebrate coffee. 

My wife and I drove The Destroyer to preschool, then looked for a way to kill some time until pickup. 

You see,  we live a full half-hour from  where he goes to school, and his session runs from 8:30  to 11:30. This means that going home is sort of pointless,  since you have no time to get anything done. 

So,  we found a cute little restaurant, I can’t even call it a diner,  its so tiny. Anyway,  we had breakfast,  than cruised some rural back roads with no destination in mind. At the end,  as pickup time drew close,  we stopped as a gas station for coffee. Signs littered the place.  “National Coffee Day! Free 12oz Coffee,  Today Only!” 

“How nice” we thought,  as we filled two 24oz cups,  because when is 12 ounces of coffee ever enough? 

We got to the register where we were waved off by the cashier.  

“I’ve got you. You’re all set.” 

I looked at her.  “These,  these are the big ones.”

“I know.” She replied. “Have a nice day.” 

Heroics can be found even in gas stations in rural NY. 

Daddy Bakes- A Tale of Redemption

I have a love-hate relationship with baking. Simply put, I love to eat things that are baked, but hate to bake them myself.

Most of my hatred comes from my inability to do it without causing some sort of HazMat situation. I may or may not have mentioned that I screwed up peanut butter cookies one day- you know, the cookies with two ingredients? Peanut butter and sugar? Shockingly simple recipe, horribly complex biological nightmare resulted.

Then there was the time I decided that even in the face of my rookie status in baking, I would attempt a from-scratch carrot cake for my wife’s birthday one year. Somehow the middle of the cake deflated, and my resolution was simply fill the crater with icing, much like I was filling a pothole in the middle of the road.

So yeah. Not a great track record in the baking department.

It’s always said that “Cooking is an art, baking is a science.” Well, having failed science (several times) I’m not surprised.

Every now and then though, I’ll get a wild idea that I’m going to try again. Mostly simple things, like getting a box or two of corn muffin mix and making them for breakfast for the boys. Well, even those damn things thwart me. In the last half-dozen or so runs I’ve taken at simple, out-of-the-box muffins, they always get destroyed in the tins when I try to take them out. I’ve tried baking them for more time. Less time. I’ve greased the ever-living snot out of the tins before I put in the batter to the point where…well….

hvl1j

A week or so ago, as I ruined another batch and grumpily served the top halves of a dozen muffins to my family for breakfast, I swore I’d never bake another thing again. I was done. Had it. Stupid rasafrassin-frikkin-rippin muffins can go #%$*U&% themselves. No more baking for me. Ever. Effit.

Then came the blackberries.

One of the greatest things about summer is the berries. There’s an area near me that was clear-cut a few years back for logging, and when that happens, one of the first things that always seems to grow back in are blackberry bushes. Well, this spot is primo berry picking property. We have a pretty good system for picking too. We’ll drive up to the end of the dead-end, one lane dirt road. We’ll turn around, and my wife will drive the car back, following the boys and I as we fill our buckets with berries. She’ll keep the ‘master bucket’ in the car with her, and we do dumps of the fruit we harvest. This serves two purposes. First, especially with The Destroyer’s sure footing, we don’t lose berries constantly to his tripping, slipping, and dumping them out. Or, to be frank, his inattention to things, which results in dumping. Second, we don’t lose too many berries to little mouths which have a habit of eating them faster than we can pick them sometimes.

We ended up with a metric butt-ton of blackberries, without a real plan as to what to do with them. We tried prodding my wife into making a blackberry pie with them, an idea which she vetoed. So, there this massive bowl of berries sat in the refrigerator, bothering me. I decided that we had berries to spare, so I reversed my decision to never bake again, and started googling.

The first thing I found- was this:

Blackberry Cobbler

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Not mine- rooked from the recipe site

I didn’t have whipped cream, nor the mint-leaf garnish, and mine didn’t look QUITE as picturesque as the one on the recipe page….but hot damn was it good. It was simple too, which I think is what made it so good. If you’ve got an abundance of berries laying around, this one’s a must.

The next morning, thrilled with a victory under my belt, I decided to take another run at the baking thing, and found these:

Blackberry muffins

No picture for this one, because the recipe is actually for BLUEBERRY muffins…a fact which was missed by yours truly until it came time to add the berries to the batter and it didn’t say ‘blackberries.’ Oops.

Turns out, the recipe isn’t berry specific. It works amazingly with blackberries. The picky Narrator had to be stopped before he could eat an even half-dozen of them. This wasn’t as simple as the cobbler was, but still a pretty direct recipe which I was able to follow without killing anyone, or causing any fires.

In the end….these two recipes restored a little bit of confidence in me when it comes to baking. We still have a ton of berries left too…and I have NO idea what to do with them. I’m thinking of blackberry lemonade or on ice cream, or…who knows.

I DO know that I’m not yet confident enough to take a stab at a blackberry pie yet.
Protip: If you can’t master a pumpkin pie with a store-bought crust….don’t eff around with berry pies quite yet.

That’s it for me for now. If I take a run at anything else, I’ll let you know. Thanks for dropping in, and make the muffins.

You’ll thank me later.

~AD

 

Cats: Thwarting 9-1-1 Since 2013

Twice now I’ve been mixed up in calls where a cat has thrown a monkey wrench into the usually well-oiled machine that is the emergency services machine.

The first time was when I was saddled with the cat of a homeless woman who tried to run me over with her car when the EMTs tried to take her to the hospital. I spent nearly two hours sitting in a parking lot with a cat on a leash making call after call to Animal Control, who wouldn’t take it because it wasn’t a dog, and our town didn’t have a certain statute in place that allowed them to deal with cats, and with rescue organizations who denied helping me because it was a pet and not a wild animal. Finally I got a friend of mine who works for a vet to babysit the cat while its owner was in the hospital.

As a bonus, I dealt with the same woman and the same cat not two weeks later. This time, the woman was being transported after a car accident, and I got the cat again. Thankfully, I’d had the foresight to leave my vet friend on speed-dial.

The second time was tonight, and completely out of the blue.

One of the other agencies in the county was out on a call for a potentially disturbed individual. Nothing too out of the ordinary with that, so I didn’t think much of it.

Almost an hour later, at nearly 4am, the phone rings. County dispatch is on the line.

“Yeah….uh…I’m hoping you can help me out. We have a dementia patient we’re trying to transport to the hospital, but we can’t, because she’s got a cat with her and we don’t know what to do with it.”

At 4am, neither the animal control officer, or any of the humane society people in the area were answering their phones. He called me because our campus has a Veterinary Technician program where the students take care of cats, dogs, and the like. He was hoping I’d be able to take the animal and let the vet program babysit it while the owner was in the hospital. Poor guy though, the program is shut during the summer since nobody’s around to take care of the animals.

I did also have a momentary panic attack, afraid that it might be the same woman that I dealt with at the old job, that somehow, she managed to find me and was coming to try to finish the job of running me down. Thankfully…different lady.

What amuses me, is that we’re a set of organizations that train for some of the worst possible situations that human beings have to offer each other. We have training programs for engaging and terminating an active shooter, taking down violent suspects, emergency medical procedures, car chases, gun calls, drug deals, you name it, we get the training for it…but at 4am, when we need someone to take custody of a cat? There’s nothing in the playbook for that one.

Eventually they were able to find a place for the cat to go in another town, and the woman was safely transported for evaluation and treatment.

 

My Cover Was Blown…

So, we took the kids to the Intrepid Museum in NYC last week while I was on vacation.

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A country boy, the drive into, and around NYC always daunts me. I get sweaty, nervous, and probably a little short-tempered. After my GPS had a minor stroke and decided to send me towards the center of Manhattan island to find an aircraft carrier, my wife and I used her phone to find a snug little parking lot right across the street from the museum where we could stuff the car for an eye-watering $30 for the day.
We open the door to the ticket office and I immediately froze. Security and metal detectors were immediately inside the entrance.

“Oh. Crap.” I said out loud. I looked for a security guard.

Me: “Excuse me sir, can I talk to you for a second?” He looks at me.
Him: “Armed?”
Me: “Huh?”
Him: “You’re a cop and you’re carrying?”
Me: “Uh….yeah…How did you….”
Him: (grinning) “We can spot you guys a mile away, go on through” he said, after I showed him my ID.

I go through the metal detector, which bings at me, completely baffled. My wife laughed at me.

“Come on, there’s a LOOK about you guys that anyone in the know can spot. Close-cut hair, clean shaven, relatively good shape… (she emphasized ‘relatively,’ which cut a little.)

I guess she’s right, although I always try to go out of my way NOT to look the part. I don’t wear any law-enforcement themed shirts, hats, jackets or anything in public. I often dress like a well-to-do hobo, and when I’m on vacation, rarely do I shave. I thought I’d been doing a pretty good job of keeping things on the DL when I was in public…but apparently not.

My wife also informed me that no- I’ve not been doing that great a job. Growing up around people who were on the job, she can spot a cop from a mile away so if SHE says it, it must be true.

I’ve been mulling the incident over for a few days, and realized that there have been a few other instances where this sort of thing has happened. “Oh, you look like a cop.” or “You’ve got to be a cop somewhere aren’t you?”

I realized that it all goes back to my academy days when the instructors we had took a bunch of raw jokers from all ages and walks of life, and molded us into police officers. One of my drill instructors, whom I’ll never forget as long as I live, told us one day “No matter how big you are…walk as if you’re ten feet tall.” Apparently, I took that to heart without even realizing it.

Very few professions can boast changing a person’s behavior, attitude, and overall presentation as much as law enforcement can. Our training all but requires such a change. When a lot of us consider police officers as “Never off-duty” you start to develop a personality that brings part of your training home with you when you leave your uniform hanging in your locker.

I’m still very, very fresh to it all. With less than four years on the job, I’m still learning all of this- these things that are sometimes alluded to, but never really taught in formal training. I guess I don’t know if my starting to LOOK like a cop when I’m out with my family is a good thing. Perhaps I have completed the transformation now from IT nerd to police officer, but on the other hand, I feel like there’s a sort of advantage lost by looking the part when I’m out and about. I also don’t want to take too MUCH of the job home with me, as there are a lot of things I see and do that I don’t really want my kids exposed to yet. I don’t need to use my ‘police voice’ when I’m trying to discipline them, and I don’t want to go distant or callous when I’m dealing with them or their mistakes.

I’ve always said that I’m juggling the job and my family, and the more I think about it, the more right I think I am in saying that.