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Thread: Daily Bread

  1. #91
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    Wake me up, when September ends.

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  2. #92
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    You are starting to fit in as a trusted member of your station. You proved yourself in every situation encountered, backed up others and volunteered to take incidents for others who were temporarily over burdened. Conveniently enough, a retired officer runs a little beer joint just across the road from the station. It is a great place to tip a few after work and a place where the bonds of brotherhood are sealed.

    It isn't a cliche, this brotherhood thing. It is real. Your families go out to dinner together, they take trips with each other, babysit for each other and your kids play together. It is the very definition of an extended family. When someone hurts, you all share in the pain. There are constant reminders that you live in a bubble. You are held to a higher standard and when you fail you are punished harshly. There is also a shielding of some that are near the end of a career. They used to carry the weight of the department but now young officers like you step in and take up the slack and give them a break.

    Shift work is something that thankfully is in your DNA. Your father worked shifts at the mill. It was so common that you never considered people actually worked steady daylight jobs. So when you are routinely scheduled to work triple headers you don't complain. A triple header is a diabolical invention of supervisors designed to maximize availability of manpower with the fewest resources. You work a 3-11 shift and take a patrol car home with you. You pray you are not called out during the night. Sometimes you are. If not, you arrive back at the station at 7 suited up and ready to go until 3 in the afternoon. You go home and have dinner, maybe relax in a recliner or lay down for a couple hours and show up for midnight shift at 10:30 or 11 pm. You then work seven straight midnight shifts and get a long weekend off after that. They are known commonly as triple headaches. Much later in your career, your union successfully negotiates an end to that torture but by then you have managed to get into plainclothes detective work.

    You take your turn working the communications desk. At this rural station incidents during the week are handled by call out of the previous shift's officers who have taken the car home. Calling one of them out is like poking a stick into a mountain lion den. They are all scheduled to return at 7am for a full shift. A middle of the night call out means a tired grumpy response at best. At worst, later you might get hauled out of bed for a domestic or accident that mysteriously cant be located. You get the hint. As a new officer you are acutely aware that good decision making and the ability to handle incidents over the phone are valued traits.

    So the night your mother-in-law calls the station at 4:30 am and tells you your pregnant wife who is her daughter needs to get to the hospital, you respond that your shift ends at 6:30 and she needs to hang on. Five minutes later your wife calls and tells you if you don't get home she's going to have your first child at the house without a doctor or a midwife. You make the call and a replacement shows up bleary eyed but understanding. You rush home, pack the wife in the car and drive so fast she reminds you to slow down in between contractions. The hospital is a 30 minute drive. You get there in 15.

    On arrival, nobody seems to be much concerned. They take both of you to the birthing room and a nurse casually steps in saying she'll do a quick preliminary exam and then summon the doctor who is also on call and not at the hospital. After a few seconds her face gets serious and she exclaims, "My god she's 10 centimeters dialated, call the doctor!" Twenty minutes after arrival, your first child is born. The doctor makes it in time to do the delivery.....just in time.

    With a newborn and a stay at home wife, settled into a house in one of the most rural settings your state can offer, you are particularly satisfied. Your work is a challenge but the bonds of friendship have been strengthened. A tiny Methodist church at the crossroads of fifty members adopts your family and makes you feel like this is home. There are plenty of deer and bear and some turkey and best of all a babbling brook trout stream just a short walk from the back door. Winters are vicious but you enjoy the cold and the wilderness atmosphere. At the height of your reverence and love of this place, your wife asks, "Honey, I'd like to move where my parents and brother are. Can you put in for a transfer?"

  3. #93
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    It is hard to say goodbye to friends and colleagues so soon after arriving. There had been a policy requiring three years in a troop before transfer but this has just been changed to one and a half. So you immediately qualify for a transfer. You reluctantly submit your letter requesting one to a different troop. What are you going to do, tell the wife that she'll have to stay? There is no future with a dissatisfied partner who came from the big city and is feeling lost in the wilderness. You might as well be signing the divorce papers.

    The transfer comes through but not to the station requested. You get assigned the worst location in the troop. There is so much to do to prepare for moving that there is no time to find a house to purchase or rent. You can't believe it but the only option is to move into your in-laws house again. This time they have moved from the big city to a rural county midway between the two largest urban centers in the western part of the state. You spend two months commuting an hour while looking for a house.

    Your level of experience is rising. You have investigated a few fatal accidents. You have gotten use to the smell of the medical examiners office and the gruesome coroners investigations. An autopsy is an experience that some have no stomach for. You find that although you never looked forward to one, the insight you gained into the inner workings of the human body is of great interest. You volunteer to attend to these matters and many take you up on it. It is a choice that paves the way for over a decade of successful criminal investigation and a reputation as a very competent and formidable opponent to defense attorneys.

    Youth has a tendency to over estimate ones own talents. Looking back at your experiences in the prior troop you know you can handle things on your own but events are about to happen that will make you question your ability to absorb the grief and keep on being effective. As the transition seems to be going nicely, you can't imagine that soon you will arrive at the scene of an accidental or negligent shooting. Entering the house, going up the steps and turning into the bedroom you come face to face with the realization that your family will be one fewer than it was moments ago. You are seeing so someone will not have to. Your life will change forever. Before this, forever was just a word that described a long time. Now forever threatens to suffocate you.

  4. #94
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    Everyone expects you to be the rock. At least, that is surely how you pretend to be. They all know what you do for a living. To be numb like this for so many days in a row is a terrible existence. You go through the motions of daily life after the funeral.

    The funeral. It seems absurd. To bury such a young man and realize you are burying great potential. In your daily job you have watched as others go through this, you have arrived at the door late in the evening or early in the morning. Who will answer? Mother, brother, sister, lover. You have learned not to get wordy for fear of saying the wrong thing. I'm sorry, your loved one did not make it seems to work as well as any other.

    The response is never the same. Sometimes they take it like you are telling a neighbor you will be away for awhile. Other times they collapse as though their skeleton has been instantly taken from them. Many times you remain to try to comfort them but mostly your staying just serves to open the wound further. They have too many questions you don't want to answer. Was it painful for them? You hate this question. You practice answering it convincingly without a trace of deceit. You look them straight in the eye and say that it was quick. They were gone in an instant. They shake their head. Neither of you knows the truth. Perhaps you return to them a piece of jewelry. You know that if they see you, days or weeks or even years from now out in the community, they will be brought back to this useless day and all the pain. You are simply a reminder of grief.

    Grief. They must be going through hell. They ask you things they think they must know to settle it in their hearts. That God did not step in and save their young child, is something that will leave a hole in their faith or strike a better understanding of their reliance on God......who knows. But you try to provide the answers they seem to need. You provide them with a copy of the report which is intentionally brief and concise. It dutifully documents the details but it does not answer why a gun would be hanging on a wall for anyone to take down. Or why live shells would be stored within it. Or why the barrel was not pointing in another direction. Or why he was visiting in the first place. Why, why, why?

    Thats a question that haunts you and will to eternity. You somehow find a way to blame yourself. Aren't you the professional in the family who handles guns daily? Don't you possess the skills and understanding that would have kept this terrible thing from happening? Why.....didn't you impart the knowledge? There were plenty of opportunities. Days in the field hunting pheasants. You just assumed I guess. Assumed he knew how to keep others from sweeping their barrels past them. Remembering back to when you were just a teen. Someone's had to teach you. Now amidst all this pain, you blame yourself. The blame turns to shame, a private misery that no one knows continues.....forever. Everyone is looking at you to be the rock. Outside, you look the part. Inside, you soak up the pain like a sponge but their will come a day when every death reminds you of the tremendous loss that goes with it. The sponge has only the ability to soak up so much pain before it is saturated. There are ways to ring it out but it seems to fill up so fast.

    His grave marker and bench are supposed to provide a place to heal. You all visit and sit from time to time. All you do is silently apologize. There is no healing. They move away.

    You get up most days and put on the uniform. You go out of the house ready to step in the gaps between reality and fantasy. Patch things up here, tear things down there. It is your job to enforce, serve, protect, issue warnings, take away freedoms, put yourself in harms way, change a tire, stick a pistol in a dark place, write up a ticket, say what happened under oath again and again and again. You are expected to fix in fifteen minutes what people have taken lifetimes to screw up. How do you go to the same place over and over and see the same drunken problem over and over without becoming separated and impatient?

    When you stand in front of the locker and strip'off the uniform at the end of a shift, you feel freed. It is only your own problems you are responsible for. You unload your gun and lock it up. The uniform that was once such a joy to wear, feels like a cement block. It begins to rub you in very tender places.

  5. #95
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    Oh, Williamsmith. Just oh I'm sorry.

  6. #96
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    Much of what you write reminds me of when I was a social worker with court ordered clients, abused kids, etc. I only lasted 4 years. I started to cry every night driving home. Then it was back to college for me to get another grad degree so I could do something different.

  7. #97
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    The October monarch butterfly migration is beginning. I keeping my hanging impatiens plants going as the nights get colder because the monarchs are feeding during the day as they pass my patio. I look at each individual and wish I could ask them....where did you come from? Or if they dred the long trip ahead of them to Mexico nearly 2000 miles away.

    Such a fragile package and beautiful. Their flight is mesmerizing. It is a fantastic dance upon the air currents. I want to thank them for bringing me companionship and allowing me the satisfaction of providing nourishment for their journey. Early in spring when I fashioned the hanging arrangements from plastic, soil and seedlings....I was thinking of the joy the flowers bring me in their variable colors but now at the end of their lives they provide for the hobo monarch passing through my town.

    A monarch flutters gracefully near attracted by the potential of the brilliant blooms of red, purple, white and pink. It circles in the wind and prepares to land. It hovers with two or three quick compressions of the oversized wings and then lights softly on a flower. I can get close but not too close. They are aware of danger and their fragile existence. It launches out into the open spaces and circles to a different plant.

    I am not a monarch. I have a gas furnace and a fireplace to warm by. I have a big box store to fetch groceries. So I am no longer a hunter gatherer and I do not migrate to warmer climates other than for vacation. So these orange and black visitors are welcome. I will see their next generations as they fly by in later years.....here on my patio. There is the seed of a soul in a butterfly...of that I am sure.
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  8. #98
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    Another


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  9. #99
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    Magnificent, Williamsmith. An exquisite description as well.

  10. #100
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher Terry View Post
    Much of what you write reminds me of when I was a social worker with court ordered clients, abused kids, etc. I only lasted 4 years. I started to cry every night driving home. Then it was back to college for me to get another grad degree so I could do something different.
    I thank you for your four years. Social workers get all the frustrations of imperfection in the court system. Four years is a long time in that kind of work. A lot of those kids were sexually abused I’m sure. It speaks to your compassion that you carried their memory home with you. No doubt, you made a difference.

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