A senseless death…

We arrived at the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room at the same time.

He and his partner parked and I pulled up to their left and did the same.

I got out of my car and watched as the officer hurried from his seat and opened the back, driver’s side door.

When the officer grabbed the boy from the back seat of his police Tahoe, I knew almost instantly.

There was a split second though, before instantly I guess, where I didn’t know. For that split second, the officer looked like any dad grabbing his sleeping boy from the car and putting the boy’s head on his shoulder to carry him inside to sleep comfortably in his own bed.

For that split second, it was a sweet moment.

The officer, an around fifty year old white guy, clutched the little boy over his left shoulder gently, but with a clear purpose. The boy was small, a black child with his hair in corn rows and dressed as a typical five or six-year-old dresses.

He reminded me of my own six-year-old son.

The sudden, pained look on the officer’s face and the fact that the boy wasn’t crying or yelling or doing anything other than appearing to be asleep made the split second fantasy fade away fast.

We hurried into the emergency room where we were met by the trauma team and hospital staff. I’m always in awe at how these emergency room doctors and nurses and staff are so able to get to working on a patient so fast.

There was some sliver of hope that the boy would make it, at least that’s what we all wanted to believe.

The truth, and I think we all knew it, was that this boy would never fall asleep in his own bed again. When the officer laid the boy down on the gurney and stood back upright, any wind that may have been in my sails quickly faded to nothing.

His shirt said it all.

FullSizeRender (5)

Where the boy’s little heart had laid so close to the officer’s own heart, was a mess that told us things would not end well.

The three of us officers, with nearly fifty years of city police experience under our collective belts, waited not so stoically outside of trauma room two as the doctors and nurses busted their tails to save this little guy.

We paced and exchanged awkward smiles with each other and the nurses and staff who were passing by. There were several times when one or all of us was close to tears, but we held it together.

It was hard for the officer, because he did the best he could and it wasn’t going to be enough. It was hard for me, because I have a son about that age at home and couldn’t imagine anything like this happening to him.

It was awkward because we were all hoping, but we also knew that it was going to take a miracle for that boy to live.

He was not granted that miracle.

Just like that, at a couple of minutes after 8pm, a five-year old boy was gone forever.

The sheet of paper, which I’ve seen way to many times, verified it. It’s the one with a line printed on it. When it’s completely straight, you’ve died. You’ve straight-lined, as they say.

I was done with being in the hospital. I wanted to leave.

To go back to my car, I had to walk past the same group of people who were in the waiting room when we walked past them earlier with the dying boy. Three little boys grabbed at me and asked me if that boy we carried in earlier was dead.

“Did he die, officer? Was that boy dead?” They asked me.

I got no help from their mom, as she was tending to a clearly sick kid of her own.

“Boys, he’s fine. He’s a strong boy, just like you guys.”

I felt bad lying, but it seemed easier than having to explain death to three strange kids all under ten years old.

I went to my car and grabbed a bunch of Dum-Dums from the bag I carry around. Mom was cool with me giving them suckers, and they left me alone about the dead boy they still thought was alive.

I couldn’t tell them that the boy who was about their same age had straight-lined.

Five-year olds shouldn’t straight line.

Why did this one?

Because of gun violence in the city.

The weather was nice so the people were out.

Some people were out with their guns.

Why did this boy have to die?

Was it disrespect?

Drugs?

A woman?

Money?

All stupid reasons to fire a gun anywhere near another human being, let alone children, but here we are again, with another child lost to violence.

We tried to save this boy.

The officer showed up and there was a hostile crowd of people, most of whom had nothing to do with the shooting, and most not even sure what they should be angry at. The were just angry because anger is easy. Patience is hard. Kindness in the face of adversity is hard. Understanding is hard.

Some chose to be angry at the police while others were taking video on their phone. Meanwhile, nobody was helping a child as he lay dying on the sidewalk from a bullet that had torn through his little body.

The officer fought through the angry crowd and put a dying boy he didn’t know in his car.

Did he have to do that?

No.

EMS was coming, but they were too far away. It was too risky to wait for them, so we raced that little guy to the hospital in record time. We had all sorts of cars shutting down the route to the hospital, just like we would were a fellow cop shot and in need of medical care. That’s about the highest honor we can give a person, and this boy deserved it.

Still, it didn’t matter on this night.

I truly believe that when it’s your time, it’s your time.

Five years shouldn’t be anyone’s time, but that’s not my call.

It’s queer, but I left hospital and went back in service to handle more calls. I had to handle some subsequent calls with a little dead boy freshly on my mind.

That’s the thing with policing. It never ends. You have to carry on, so I pretended to care about a car accident and a stolen bike when I just wanted to shout in their faces, “AT LEAST YOU DIDN’T DIE AT FIVE YEARS OLD FROM A BULLET THROUGH YOUR CHEST!!! I HAVE NO INTEREST IN YOUR BULLSHIT PROBLEMS RIGHT NOW!”

But that’s not professional.

I’m wrapping this up having finished a six pack of Bud Light Lime and I just kissed all three of my own sleeping kids as well as my wife. I also laid on the ground and wrestled my dogs at 2 am, even though one of them is dying and has no interest in playing, and I have to work in the morning.

I’m still thinking about a boy I never met alive, and hoping he’s in a better place.

I’m looking at my own six year old’s homework folder and wondering if this dead boy has a homework folder in a backpack never to be turned in again. Will his mom see it when she gets home and cry? Did he have a lunch packed for the next day that will still be in the fridge this weekend to remind his family of a lunch that was never taken to school?

Did he go to kindergarten?

Will somebody have to explain to his classmates that they’ll never see this little guy alive again and why?

This is all too sad and it needs to stop.

Someone please figure out how.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 359 Comments

Fun with letters…

It appears that it’s been over two months since I’ve posted anything on this floundering blog of mine. 


No worries, I’ve still been writing, I promise. No, not the novel that I may write on my deathbed someday, but rather letters. I spent the better part of a day recently writing letters to all of the companies who’ve pissed me off recently. That’s no short list. From Maytag to McDonald’s and everything in between, nobody was spared my lunatic wrath.


Since I have nothing better to share here, I’m going to share my letters to companies with shitty products and or customer service.


The first one for your reading pleasure is to Eastpoint Sports in New Jersey. Their quality products are supposed to bring years and years of fun. Look at these young, white people frolicking and enjoying their ping pong table below. That’s the exact table I was supposed to be playing ping pong on!




Look how happy they are! This could have been us, but our ping pong table never made it past being an eye sore on the basement floor in twelve thousand pieces.

Below is my letter to the company explaining my ordeal. They’ve still not responded, so they’re getting a follow up letter here soon. Enjoy!

———-

Dear Eastpoint Sports:

So the wife and I purchased a fairly expensive EPS 3500 ping pong table from Walmart.com, in the hopes that it would be a nice Christmas gift for the kids, since that’s what the older two kids wanted. Walmart.com was probably our first mistake, right?

 

We were pleased that it arrived at our local Walmart in enough time for me to assemble it in time for Christmas.

 

After borrowing a truck and hauling this nearly180 pound sonofabitchin’ box into my basement, I began to put it together. All was going well until I got all the way to step one and noticed that the brackets weren’t all the same size as the instructions suggested they needed to be. I figured I could make it work, so I tried to assemble the table using what I was given.

 

My progress stalled at step 6 wherein a leg from the table is supposed to fit into a bracket, rather neatly, apparently, if the photos are any indication. While I had a couple of different brackets, the legs I had didn’t fit neatly into any of them. I called and spoke to customer service and they said they’d send me new brackets. It was going to take 7-10 days.


This was aggravating because it meant the table would not be assembled until not only after Christmas, but after the new year when the kids would already be back in school from their break.

Whatever, the kids were still excited to see the table on the ground waiting to be assembled on Christmas morning, so it wasn’t a total loss.

 

We got the new brackets and I was excited to see they all matched this time. Unfortunately, they were all the same size as a bracket we already had, so the legs didn’t fit into any of them, of course.

 

Stymied and increasingly pissed off, I noticed on your website that the dimension of the legs on your table didn’t match the dimension of the legs I had received in my box. See, your dimensions indicate that the legs I need are 33 inches from from one leg to the other.




 

The legs I got, however, were not 33 inches apart. See?




Aha, I thought! The legs were the problem! As you can see from the attached photos, the distance between the inner leg posts (according to your own dimensions) is supposed to be 33 inches, and the distance between the legs I had received was closer to 21-22 inches. I called customer service again and spoke with a very condescending and rude Blake person, who was having trouble understanding my explanation of the difference between 21 inches and 33 inches. There is apparently a language barrier between my midwestern Missouri English and the Snookiesque English spoken in New Jersey or wherever you people are. I digress, because in spite of his attitude, he agreed to ship me proper legs so we could all move on with our lives.

 

The legs arrived in a proper amount of time, and I knew they had arrived when they did, because when my daughter got home from school, she called me immediately while I was at work to tell me how excited she was that the legs had come and that her table would finally be put together properly.

 

When I got home from an exhausting shift patrolling the mean streets of my city, I thought a game of ping pong would he relaxing and fun, so I opened the box that the legs arrived in right away, only to be disappointed that there would be no alleviation of my exhaustion or fun to be had on this night. You see, when I opened the box, I was faced with another set of the exact same, non-fitting legs that I’d already gotten in the original packaging.

 

I called and spoke to a couple more people in customer service. They spoke to managers and warehouse people and I believe a sandwich delivery guy even tried to help at some point, but for whatever reason, nobody could figure out why the legs didn’t fit.

 

The implication from the fine folks at Eastpoint was that I must be a moron. That had to be the answer. While they didn’t say that explicitly, of course, it was implied.

 

Knowing that I’m not the handiest fellow in the world, and that perhaps I was just a moron, I had another two people look at the legs, plus, my wife snuck her father in to try as well. If it could be rigged, he could do it.

 

No dice.

 

Twas not I who was the moron this time at all.

 

So, Eastpoint Sports, it would appear to me that one of the following is happening:

 

1) there’s a meddlesome employee at UPS or the post office swapping out the proper parts in my deliveries for improper parts just to screw with me,

2) you people are sending out incompatible parts to begin with and UPS is innocent,

3) your dimensions on your very own website are completely wrong or,

4) this has all been a bad dream

 

As I’ve pinched myself and it hurt, this isn’t a bad dream,but it’s been a very bad experience. I’m not saying your company ruined Christmas for our kids, because they’re good kids and a gift that never materialized doesn’t bother them in such a way.

 

It did bother me though, because I had to drag that 180 pound bastard of a table back upstairs, repack it, and have it hauled back to wherever it’s being hauled to. You owe me $147 in duct tape!

 

The waste of time and energy that went into this gift has been exhausting and it’s my hope that your company will do something to make it right.

 

I’m still baffled as to why this couldn’t be worked out, so if you figure it out, please let me know. I’m REALLY curious to get your answer as to why this is my fault.

 

Also, we’re still in the market for a ping pong table.

 

Regards,

 

DOAT

 

Don

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 39 Comments

Winning a routine call for crazy…

The call was for an “OBS.”

If I’m remembering correctly, OBS is an acronym for Organic Brain Syndrome, but it’s used in my circles to refer to somebody who’s basically crazy.

I guess crazy isn’t politically correct, and maybe OBS isn’t either, but you get the picture.

OBS calls are by far my least favorite, because they almost always involve dealing with somebody who’s agitated, probably not taking necessary medication, and somebody often needs to go to a hospital against their will.

These calls are dispatched as two officer calls, and the other officer had arrived before I did. When I pulled up, I noticed the officer, who’s young and has been doing the job for less than two years, had his Taser out.

He’s a good, young officer. He’s not a hot head or one of those guys who makes a bad situation worse by escalating it with his mouth or actions.

In front of him was a large 19 year old, young man with his arms raised as he moved forward towards the officer. Another person tried to restrain him. The kid was waving his arms in the air and challenging the officer to shoot him with the Taser.

“Whatch you gonna do!? I don’t care, shoot me with dat Taser!”

He was loud and obnoxious and a pretty big kid to boot.

The guy trying to hold him back was trying to help with his actions, but his words were conspiring against those well intentioned actions.

I had grabbed my large flashlight and was walking towards the fun when I heard the other guy telling the OBS that “these officers ain’t gonna play wit you, man. They’s white dudes, man. They’ll shoot you dead.”

“Fuck them then! Let them shoot me; I don’t give a fuck!”

He was getting all wound up and I could feel my eyeball twitching. I’d be lying if I said the thought of drop kicking both of those men across the nearby park didn’t cross my mind.

As I got closer, the OBS turned his rage on me and asked what I was gonna do.

I ignored him and rolled my eyes to nobody in particular as I walked past the three of them to a woman I suspected was momma.

Momma said her son was schizophrenic and was two weeks overdue on his medicine.

“I ain’t taking my medicine!” the boy screamed at his mom.

“You need your medicine, Junior!” Momma said back to him calmly.

I could tell this poor woman was spent. She said Junior had torn up her house. The door was wide open and from the front yard, I could see a Christmas tree on the floor and broken ornaments all around.

“You’ve got your hands full, don’t you?” I’m the master at stating the obvious.

The guy who had been holding Junior back let him go and left in a car, obviously no longer concerned enough that we might shoot his loved one to stick around for it.

“Will you at least let the ambulance come to the house so the paramedics can talk to you, Junior?” I asked.

“I ain’t talking to nobody and I ain’t going nowhere! I need five dollars to buy my weed. That’ll calm me down!”

Junior unzipped his sweat jacket and took a couple of steps towards me.

“No sir,” I said in my regular tone. I pointed the butt end of my flashlight at Junior and said, “Come one step closer to me and you’re gonna need that ambulance for more than your medicine.”

Junior cursed me and started to walk away from the house. He walked down the sidewalk as I talked to mom about what we could do.

“I really don’t want to have to wrestle your son into the back of an ambulance, ma’am. Somebody’s going to get hurt.”

As we talked about different options, Junior came back ranting and raving about still wanting five dollars to buy some weed.

“Get off my property!” Junior yelled at me. “I need five dollars to buy some weed!”

“Oh my god, fuck! Go buy your weed, Junior.” I told him. I was frustrated by this point. “Buy your goddam weed and then come back here with it so we can throw your ass into the back of a police car and be done with you for the night.”

It wasn’t my finest moment, but this house wasn’t in my area and I was getting aggravated.

Junior walked around in a couple of circles before he finally sat down on his mom’s porch.

“Does he have medicine here, mom?” I asked.

“Yes, let me go get it,” she answered.

Momma walked into the house through the open door. I heard her say something to somebody and then say, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” probably to herself.

I felt bad for her.

Junior had lost much of his spunk and looked a little defeated when he looked towards me and said, “I ain’t taking my medicine.”

He said it matter of factly, not with anymore of the anger he had displayed just moments earlier.

Momma had come back out with several different bottles of medicine in her arms.

“Junior, if you let your mom give you your medicine, I’ll leave your property. I’ll leave you alone and you’ll never see me again,” I said. I don’t know how rational schizophrenics off their meds are, but getting rid of me seemed like one of the few positive outcomes for this kid at this point.

I started to walk away as momma coaxed some pills and a couple large spoonfuls of something down his throat.

We win, I thought to myself.

I turned back and walked a couple of steps closer to mom and Junior.

“Will that calm him down, mom? You’re going to be okay now?”

She assured us that he would be fine now and that they’d get him whatever more permanent shot he needed as soon as possible.

I thanked Junior for doing the right thing, wished he and his mom a Merry Christmas, and we left, without anybody getting hurt.

That’s a winning outcome.

———————————————————————-

Dealing with people suffering from mental disorders is one of the most challenging aspects of being a cop. Having mom here certainly helped to keep this from turning ugly. Had this kid left and been somewhere else, would we have known he had a mental condition and wasn’t just all worked up and angry about something or other? I don’t know the answer to that. People don’t carry signs with them indicating they have a mental disorder, and it’s not always easy to spot. I don’t know that he would have calmed down so quickly had he not been at home with his mom there. Had he continued on with his raging, he almost certainly would have been Tazed to keep him from hurting himself or somebody else, but that’s for another day, I guess.

Posted in Police Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 38 Comments

An atypical typical traffic stop…

I pulled a car over recently because it had an illegal temporary license plate attached to it.

The driver, who I couldn’t see as I turned on my lights, was a young, black woman.

She cracked open the door, as I stood outside her window, to tell me that the window didn’t work, and that’s why she hadn’t rolled it down.

“That’s fine,” I said, then I asked her if she had any clue why I stopped her. Of course, she said she didn’t.

“Your temporary plate is illegal,” I told her matter of factly.

“This is my cousin’s car,” she said. “What do you mean illegal? You mean it’s expired?”

“No ma’am, I mean it’s illegal. Somebody copied and tinkered with it.”

She furrowed her brow and gave me a quizzical look as though the person before her had three heads.

“I was just going to the store to get some groceries,” she finally responded.

“Do you have a driver’s license?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Can I see it please?”

The young lady rummaged through a bag and handed me a food stamp card and a non-driver’s identification card.

“Is this all you have?” I asked. “Neither of these is a driver’s license.”

Again, I got the puzzled look before she turned to half-ass rummage through her bag and console, ostensibly to find her driver’s license.

As she rummaged, I chuckled to myself about how many times I’ve been through this very same scenario.

“Ma’am, please stop. Stop rooting through your bag and look at me,” I said.

She looked at me, more deflated than puzzled this time.

I looked at the ID that she had given me and asked her if the name on the card was her.

“Yes, that’s me. I promise.”

“It’s a lovely name, ma’am. Very unique.”

“Thank you. Are you going to give me a ticket?” She must have thought she found an opening where we were getting along to ask that so abruptly.

“We’ll see. You may get a whole bunch of tickets, honestly. Let’s try this one more time. Do you have a driver’s license? I’m not asking if you have one on you, I’m asking if one exists anywhere in the world with your information on it.”

She looked straight into her steering wheel and pursed her lips.

“No.” She whispered.

“No?” I asked.

“No sir.” She said.

“Have you ever had one, or is it revoked or suspended or what?”

“I ain’t never got one,” she said.

“Okay. But this non-driver’s license is you for real?”

She turned to me and said, “yes, officer. I swear that’s me. I’m not lying to you about that.”

“Okay. And you’re twenty-two years old?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Do you have any warrants or anything like that? Please tell me you’re not wanted for murder or some egregious act of terrorism.”

She smiled and assured me that she was not wanted for anything and I told her to hang tight while I went back to my car carrying her food stamp card and her non-driver’s ID card.

It was cold and windy, so the car was nice and warm when I eased back into the seat and turned the computer towards me so I could run her information.

Having been told that she had zero warrants, I was hopeful that it was true, but alas, she had four, all from other jurisdictions.

I sat in my nice warm car and pondered what to do.

Arresting her would get me out of the cold for a little bit, so that’s a pro.

Writing her several tickets would maybe get her attention and be the wake up call she needs to get a license and the rest of her shit together, so that’s a pro also.

Arresting her and writing her tickets would both get me out of the cold and would surely get her attention, so that’s a another pro in favor of taking action.

I shook my head at the computer screen and muttered, “no warrants my ass” to nobody in particular and made my way back to the woman in the Pontiac Grand Am.

She opened the door to speak to me again and I returned her food stamp card to her.

“You’re a wreck,” I told the woman. “You have four warrants, not zero.”

She again gave me the I have three heads look of utter bewilderment and said, “what? No way!”

“Way,” I said, and explained to her what they were for and what police departments they were from.

“Are you going to take me to jail?” She was calm, but tears started to flow from her eyes. She wasn’t bawling or anything, they were those tears you can’t control that just race out of your tear ducts all of a sudden. They were maybe tears of frustration.

“Step out of the car please.” I said.

“Am I going to jail?” She was still calm and teary. “Do you want me to turn the car off?”

“Nah, you can keep it running,” I answered.

I motioned her to come to the sidewalk towards the back of her car. I noticed two mechanics watching us intently from across the street, amazingly, neither of them was recording us with a phone.

The woman was petite. She stood before me in a pink panther t-shirt and some fuzzy Hello Kitty pajama bottoms. She crossed her arms to try to keep warm.

“Four warrants is right about the number where I seriously consider taking a person to jail,” I told her.

She opened her mouth to respond, but before she could make a sound, I continued, “look at this temporary plate. The VIN doesn’t go to your car and it’s expired. You may as well put a neon sign in the back window begging officers to pull you over, you know that?”

“It’s not my car. I’m so sorry,” She said. “I just wanted to get some groceries for my kids.”

I explained to her that I could think of at least seven tickets to write her without even trying to look for less obvious violations. I explained to her that the cost of taking care of the bench warrants and the tickets would easily exceed a thousand dollars.

As she was about to respond again, I looked over her head and said, “but it’s Christmas.”

She closed her mouth and wiped her tears.

I had been feigning some aggravation, but not in a condescending way, just sort of enough to keep her from knowing that I never intended to take her to jail for sure.

I became a little more serious with her and said, “I don’t care about your traffic warrants from other jurisdictions, and I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt when you say this isn’t your car and you didn’t know about the plate being illegal. You’re twenty-two years old though, so it’s time for you to get your shit together, don’t you think?”

“Yes. I think so.”

“Hey, you can drive a car, so I’m sure you can get a license. It costs like twenty dollars or so. Can you imagine how much better it’d be to have a valid license and not become a nervous wreck everytime a cop is behind you?”

She chuckled, “yes. You’re so right about that.”

“Okay, I’m gonna leave. Since you don’t have a license, please don’t drive at all, or at least until I’m gone. Tell me you’re walking home.”

“I have to walk home?!”

“I said I want you to tell me that you’re walking home, or taking a bus.”

Another quizzical look…

“I don’t want to SEE you drive this car away, but I’m going to leave and be out of sight shortly. Whatever happens when I’m gone happens. Understand?”

She smiled a great big, white toothed smile and said, “Yes. Thank you.”

“Bah! Get your shit together,” I said as I was walking towards my car with my back to her.

“Officer,” She said.

I stopped and turned to find her walking towards me.

“Can I give you a hug?”

I was caught off guard. Nobody has ever asked me that on a traffic stop.

“I never turn down hugs,” I said, and that’s the truth.

So we hugged, right there on the street in North St. Louis. A petite twenty-two year old black woman and a not so petite EARLY forties white man must have been quite a sight because the two mechanics across the street looked at us like we both had three heads.

As I opened my door to get into my car, one of them gave me a thumbs up, even though there’s no way he could have known what just happened.

I gave him a nod and a thumbs up in return and drove off hoping that three more people have a little bit more faith in the officers who serve their community.

—————————-
Other than the hug, this is a very typical encounter when I conduct a traffic stop. I lose interest pretty fast, especially when people don’t act like total douchebags right off the bat. I’m lucky to have some discretion where I work, and this is typically how I choose to exercise mine, particularly now that I have many moons of experience under my belt.

Feel free to tell me if you think I should be more of a hard ass. I probably won’t change, but I’m interested to hear your take.

Posted in Police Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 97 Comments

A chat with some protesters…

Hi protesters, it’s me, Don.

Do you remember me?

No?

I’m a police officer.

We’ve met before.

Excuse me? Did you say Ferguson?

No no no, not there. I’ve only been there a couple of times, but never in riot gear.

You, the lady with the black shirt on. I remember you from what I think was your house, or maybe that was your grandma’s house.

Do you remember that time your 23 year old sister swallowed a good deal of toilet cleaner because she was distraught at being pregnant again?

Gosh, I remember it like it was yesterday.

That’s right, I was there with that young, black officer.

He is handsome, you’re right.

Yes, that was me that knelt down on your dirty, roach infested bathroom floor and turned your sister onto her side to keep her from choking to death on her own vomit.

That’s right, I stroked her cheek and rubbed her arm to comfort her while we waited for the ambulance to come.

When she finally came to, she was in no mood to go to the hospital, was she? Wooo, she was pissed.

You asked me to make her go to the hospital, and I was going to anyway since she tried to kill herself, but people are funny about being forced to go to the hospital against their will.

Your mother was understandably upset, but that handsome young officer and I, along with some firemen and you were able to sweet talk her into going without having to fight her into the ambulance.

That’s always a win for us.

Yes, you thanked me that night and I appreciated that.

You don’t know it, but I stopped by your house again a few weeks ago to see how everyone was doing, but you weren’t home. I happened to be on your street, so I thought I’d check in. I like to follow up on my calls sometimes.

Maybe I’lll catch you next time

Hey, you there with the dread locks. Yeah, you, the big guy! Do you remember me?

Don’t be embarrassed, it’s a funny story.

Remember when I saw you sprinting across Baden Street and then down the sidewalk?

You had the look on your face of a man who’d just seen a ghost!

When you saw my car, you flagged me down and tried to jump in my back seat.

Sorry about locking the doors, but there are a lot of people out there who’d hurt a police officer, so I have to be extra careful when people come running frantically at me like you were. Plus, you’re a big dude.

I got out of the car and held your gym bag for you so you could catch your breath. You pointed while you tried to say something about whatever it was you were running from.

Remember, I asked if you were hurt or being robbed or shot at because these are the sorts of things that happen on Baden Street. You shook your head no and pointed towards an alley at the suspect.

“Whoah!” I believe was my exact response.

What I could only guess was the result of a pit bull mating with a Clydsedale horse sauntered out of the alley right towards us, so I did finally let you get into my car.

I was going to join you, but you remember that little girl?

Right, that cute little girl about my daughter’s age. I remember that she was walking right towards the dog. Remember the dog lost interest in us when she saw that little girl? The dog turned and was going right for that little girl, who I had assumed couldn’t see the dog because she was on a hill.

Oh good Lord, I thought. I’m going to have to shoot that dog, if it gets near that girl.

I sure didn’t want to, because I’ve never shot an animal before.

We drove the patrol car past the beast and into a driveway to cut the girl off.

When I rolled down my window to warn her about the dog and tell her to get into the car, she pert near peed her pants laughing at us.

“That’s my Baby,” she said.

“Your baby?” I said.

“Her name is baby. She’s my dog and I’m so sorry she got out of the yard.”

That wonderfully mannered little girl then walked right around our car and gave Baby a big hug while telling her what a naughty dog she’d been.

We were both embarrassed because that dog/horse thing couldn’t have been any sweeter with that girl.

“She could ride that thing home,” I said as we both watched her walk alongside the dog into a nearby yard.

You laughed and laughed and called me stupit, but not in a mean way.

We shook hands and you thanked me. I appreciated that.

That was a pretty funny ending. Much better than what could have happened.

“Hey, I remember you too, Officer Don.”

Hmmm, I’m sorry but your face doesn’t look familiar.

Wait a minute, I know you now. I didn’t see your three boys there behind you.

Wow, the boys are looking good.

Last time I saw them was that time you were all huddled on a bench in the cold. I remember driving up and asking you if you needed any help and you said you didn’t.

Well, your words said you didn’t, but your face said otherwise. Your face and the faces of those handsome boys.

I asked if you were sure and you said yes, so I let it be.

I drove into an adjoining parking lot and waited for my next call. I parked just close enough that you could call to me, if you changed your mind, but you never did.

Your older son finally did walk over though and asked me if I had any baseball cards.

Holy crap, I thought.

It’d been a long time since I’ve been asked that.

Remember when we used to get Cardinal baseball cards with safety messages printed on them? They would be a mess all over the police stations, but the kids loved them. I don’t think we give them out anymore, but man that took me back thinking about all the cards I’ve handed out over the years.

Anyway, I told your son I didn’t and he said, “Thank you, sorry to bother you, sir.”

Wow, I love a kid with manners.

“How old are you, son?” I asked.

“Fifteen, sir.”

“What are you guys doing on this bench? It’s pretty cold outside”

“Momma’s boyfriend kicked us out. We’re waiting for my grandad to pick us up.”

“Do you want to sit in my car and warm up with your brothers for a minute?” I asked him.

I remember he nervously looked to you and you told him to stop bothering that man.

“He’s no bother,” I shouted to you. “He wants to see the inside of the police car. Are you okay with that? They can come too.”

You smiled because you knew those boys wanted out of that cold.

“You’re welcome too.”

You declined, so the boys and I sat in the car for a few minutes while I showed them all the bells and whistles. I was happy that you trusted me enough to let your boys in the car. A lot of people don’t.

I forget what’s mundane to me is still fascinating to others, especially kids. It was fun watching them goof around and ask questions about what everything does.

As usual though, I got a call on the radio and had to go.

Before they got out, the youngest one mentioned that his stomach hurt.

When I asked if he was okay, the oldest one said he was probably just hungry since they hadn’t eaten in a couple of days.

“WHAT???”

“Please don’t arrest my mom!” The middle one said suddenly.

Ugh, I remember that one stung my heart. I hate that he thought that’s our answer to such a situation.

I gave the fifteen year old all that I had, which was a $20 bill. It’s not a lot when you have three growing boys to feed, but that’s not chump change to me either, and I assure you that I only give money to people I deem worthy of my charity.

I remember your kids were good kids and it was a pleasure to part with what I would have probably just spent on beer anyway.

I told them boys to make sure you spent it on food.

You had what?

Hardees?

I’m glad. Oh stop, you thanked me enough that night, and I appreciated it.

I have many more memories of so many of you men and women, and so do all the other officers you’ll see during your protest and beyond this mess as well.

Please remember the good times as well as the bad.

None of us are perfect and I won’t deny that some terrible things happen at the hands of some police officers.

Some.

I hope you’ll remember also that most of us struggle as you do too.

We’re just regular men and women when we’re not working in your communities.

Our communities.

We coach your kids and go to your churches and eat at the same restaurants.

We pass each other in the gas station all the time, on and off duty.

Please don’t destroy our gas stations or churches or restaurants. That won’t accomplish anything.

If you talk to me, I’ll listen to you.

I don’t know how to fix all the problems of all the people in a crowd this size, but I know police officers aren’t really what everybody is upset about.

Some of you are, sure, but I suspect that most of the people are upset about more than how the police behave.

We know we have some bad apples, but that’s not really what’s getting to most of you, is it?

It has to be the lack of job opportunities or unequal educational opportunities or the decades of violence in your neighborhoods that have finally caused you to say enough is enough.

Hey man, I couldn’t agree more.

Enough is enough.

Michael Brown’s death isn’t the cause of all your anger, it’s just the straw that broke the camel’s back, I think.

Let’s put this camel back together with each other’s help.

Posted in Police Stories, Stories, The not meant to be funny stuff | Tagged , , , , , | 95 Comments

Last week, sort of. a stray dog, bloody nips and funny signs…

Well, since the wee gray organ inside my skull is unwilling to spew forth anything new or creative, I’m just going to rehash the week that was.

That just was?

Is it rehash my last week?

Whatever, I’m going to tell you about some of the seven prior days of my life, is what I’m saying.

My work week got off to a rousing good start with a call for a vicious dog near some kids playing outside. The caller was afraid that the dog was going to attack the kids.

I don’t know who made the call, but when I arrived, three little girls flagged me down and pointed out the dog to me. They didn’t really have to do that since she was about a 70 pound dog and she was standing right behind them wagging her tail and looking all confused about what was going on.

I noticed that the dog was a bit wet, and when I asked the kids what that was all about, they said that they’d just got done bathing her with a hose.

Confused, I asked, “You mean you sprayed her with a hose and soaped her down, or you sprayed her with a hose to scare her away?”

Also now confused, the girls asked, “Geez, don’t you know what bathing means, officer?”

“Touche brats!” I thought, but they were sweet girls anyway.

“Somebody called and said that the dog was vicious,” I told them.

When the girls asked me what vicious meant, I found myself laughing inside my head as I mentally wrote a Dora cartoon that included a vicious bear running from the wavy forest towards the magical lake to rip her and Boots’s throats out before eating them and then wiping its ass with the map and sparing future generations anymore of that nonsense.

No, that’s not appropriate. Still, Dora and Peppa Pig could do a better job of teaching kids about some negative things in life along with their alleged positive messages.

Instead of being too graphic, I simply said that it meant that the person who called was afraid that the dog was going to bite or scratch them.

The girls had a pretty good laugh at that, and to prove the point, they all three gave the dog a giant hug as she looked at me like, “What the fuck is going on, officer? Do you have any treats in your pockets?”

That’s what I think her face said anyway, but no, I didn’t have any treats.

The dog looked pretty good for a stray, so I decided to see if she’d get in the car so I could take her to Stray Rescue. It’s not that I was being nice to the dog so much as it was a good way to kill an hour without having to answer more radio assignments.

As though she were reading my thoughts, the dog raced to the car and nearly knocked me over as I reached for the handle. She’d clearly been in a car before and enjoyed herself.

We had a fine time conversing and looking for bad guys (insert cat burglar joke here) on our way to the shelter.

Vicious and I patrolled the mean streets together, briefly.

Vicious and I patrolled the mean streets together, briefly.

I was briefly sad at having to leave my new friend with the folks at animal control, since the no kill shelter joint wouldn’t take her in for me. What’s up with that? The fine folks at animal control assured me that they’re a kinder, gentler place and promised me that they’d call me to come get her, if they couldn’t find her a home. They seemed pretty confident that they could, and I hope they do. I have my hands full with a geriatric lab with no sphincter control and whatever this one’s problem is.

Staring at nothing...

Staring at nothing…

She’s taken to sitting awkwardly on the stairs and staring at nothing out the windows. She only takes a break to look over at me every now and then with an expression that asks, “Why aren’t you making whatever it is I want to have happen happen?!”

Read my mind, DON!!

Read my mind, DON!!

I don’t know, dog!

Well damn, day one really took up more time and energy than I thought, so there’s no time to tell you about the rest of my week. So, instead of boring you with things like that pregnant woman drinking cleaning solution (she lived but I worry about her baby being raised by this person) or more shootings or my epic night of Bud Light Lime consumption, I’ll end this with my yesterday.

Yesterday, the wife woke me at seven something in the morning to go cheer for our good friend and neighbor, Margo, as she was trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Normally, this is no problem, but the night before was a 40th birthday party for a college buddy and I may or may not have put down 20 bottles of beer and three really good bloody mary’s with dinner. Either way, getting up was unpleasant, to say the least.

Alas, we made it to the course, and it turns out that the only thing almost as bad as running in a race is watching other people do it.

It is made more entertaining by holding funny signs though. Margo’s husband had some ready for the DOAT clan to help inspire the runners.

Ace and Cool were all sorts of into it.

Motivating runners all classy like...

Motivating runners all classy like…

Gman had his moments, but not so much.

Distracted by donuts...

Distracted by donuts…

The wife promised him a donut on the way to the run, but we ran out of time. That explanation wasn’t sufficient, however, so he spent the next seven hours talking about getting his donut until we finally found a gas station donut to shut him up.

So the thing with marathons is that apparently, men do bleed out their nipples, which is quite disgusting. Here’s a pro tip, runners – when your nipples start to bleed, that is your body telling you, “STOP! LOOK AT YOUR NIPPLES!! THEY’RE BLEEDING!!!”

The nipple bleeders did not stop though, as I saw several men with bloodied nipple shirts trudging on against the protestations of their bodies. I am quite confident that I would listen to my nipples, were I ever interested in running again.

So anywho, this went on and on and we got nowhere, so I’ll wrap it up.

I don’t know what Margo’s official time was, but it was something ridiculous like under 3:40 and she was still down on herself. That’s a perfectionist for ya. I would be proud to just finish a marathon, let alone run it that fast.

We had lunch and did some things after the race, and there were still people being announced as they crossed the finish line, six plus hours later. Most were walking, of course.

I’m sorry, but if you walk any significant portion of the marathon and it takes you more than five hours, then you didn’t run a marathon. You simply traveled 26.2 miles on foot.

I did the same thing myself yesterday walking up and down Main Street while the wife shopped. Of course, I did it alternating a five and a three year old on my shoulders, but no medal for me after the end of my long day.

Hahaha, well my brain went flaccid just now so there’s no funny ending to this just an abrupt little se

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Lick’n lunch with the boys…

I walked into the kitchen the other day and found myself standing behind Cool and Gman as they were seated at the island waiting to be fed lunch. They insist on being fed every single day, often multiple times during the same day.

All this child feeding can be very annoying when all one wants to do is sit his fat ass on the couch with his Doritos and watch the ball game, but I’ll digress.

They didn’t hear me walk into the kitchen because I’m quite ninja like that, and also because when they’re together, their noise level is always somewhere equivalent to that of a jet plane repeatedly taking off and immediately crashing into a mountain and exploding upon impact. I believe the decibel number is somewhere around 150, for those of you who need such numerical data to visualize the insanity.

The boys were giggling and having a good time together.

As I snuck behind them, I was pleased to see that they had already gotten what they wanted to be fed from the pantry and refrigerator. That sort of initiative on their part is rare, so it’s to be applauded when they do it.

Before I was able to praise them for their ambitious venture into the pantry and fridge to help get lunch started though, I saw what was so funny to the both of them.

They were licking all the sliced lunch meats and putting them back into the packages.

What?

Right?

You heard me.

THEY WERE LICKING THE GODDAM LUNCHMEAT AND PUTTING IT BACK INTO THE PACKAGES!!!!!

It was apparently the funniest thing in the world to them, until I asked, “What the fuck are you two doing??!!” in the best daddy’s not psychotically enraged, but he’s clearly pissed off tone that I could muster.

Gman continued to giggle while Cool, of course, put his face in his hands and became dejected at having been scolded.

I sighed, walked back into the adjoining room, and proceeded to pound my head on the desk five or six times before I came back and had lunch with my boys.

They enjoyed their licked on salami with mayo and cheese sandwiches while I opted for a lunch-meatless PB&J and a glass of milk.

I sent the boys out the door to terrorize the neighborhood so that I could consider whether or not I needed to try to make myself vomit in peace.

This isn’t the first time daddy has discovered one of the boys returning food to its packaging after it had found its way into a mouth.

A few weeks earlier I was enjoying my Salt and Vinegar flavored sunflower seeds when it occurred to me that some of the seeds lacked flavor and may or may not have seemed a little soggy. (I was going to say moist, but I hate that word. Moist…*shudders*)

Anyway, when I inquired as to whether or not anyone had touched daddy’s seeds, Ace finally looked away from whichever there’s no parent around and the teens are being dicks to each other show that she was watching to let me know that “yes daddy, Gman was sucking the flavor from your seeds earlier and then putting them back in the bag.”

She then smiled at me before turning indifferently back towards her television show.

“Hey honey?” I asked.

“Ace.”

“That fucking tv. I need to remember to cancel cable. These kids are rotting their brains,” I thought.

“ACE!!!!” Jesus Christ, she was sitting seven feet away from me.

“Yeah?”

“Why would you…wait, did you just say yeah?” I asked.

Ace sighs, clearly annoyed at having to pause her stupid show for ten seconds again.

“YES, Dad?”

“That’s sort of better. Why would you let me eat seeds that you know your brother has put into his mouth? Why would you do that to your daddy!??”

Ace shrugged her shoulders and smiled again. “He can’t eat those seeds, Daddy. They’re too hard for him to figure out. He just likes the flavor.”

She has a sweet smile and she’s a sweet kid, so I can’t really be mad at her, even though a small part of me wants to drop kick her ass into the next county for letting me eat sucked on seeds.

That’s just nasty. I’m not a person who enjoys drinking or eating after another person. I find it appalling, in fact.

I have gotten a tiny bit better about it since I’ve had kids. I’ll eat their leftovers when I’m mostly sure they haven’t touched it with their mouths, and I can share a water bottle with them, but there are some things that ain’t happening, and one of those things is me eating anything that has been entirely inside another person’s mouth, fruit of my loins or not.

As Ace returned to her semi-catatonic state to enjoy her show, I sat on the couch and pondered my life.

How many sandwiches have I eaten since these kids have been born that were made with slobbered on lunch meat?

Do they stick their fingers into the peanut butter? Oh God, I bet they lick the knife and put it back into the jar all the time!

Are they licking the salt from my hard pretzels and putting them back into the box? I’ve noticed a bunch of my pretzels haven’t been as salty recently.

Dear God!

My Doritos? Are they licking the dust from my Doritos too?

The thought of it all has me overwhelmed, so I’ve sworn to only eat food at home that I know for a fact is still untarnished. That would basically  be nothing, except for whatever I open from an untampered with package.

Failing that, all my meals will be eaten out, in a restaurant, where I can trust that FDA agents and minimum wage earning, salt of the earth human beings are doing their best to ensure that my food is served to me in a clean environment, completely free of child slobber, floaties or other cooties.

Posted in Family, Humor, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 61 Comments

A shooting a mother and her baby…

The intersection of Vandeventer and St. Louis Avenue isn’t in my district.

I am not subject to calls that come out in that area, but my car had a tire that was running low on air.

I told the dispatcher that I was going to the police garage to have the tire filled and I put my mic into my bag. I was out of service now so I could relax for a little bit and enjoy the trip to the garage without having to worry about another call coming my way for a few minutes. I cranked up Billy Joel’s Piano Man and headed south on Vandeventer.

As is often the case with the best laid plans of a police officer, my relaxing drive was interrupted, almost immediately.

An officer in the adjacent district heard shots fired nearby. He was on the scene almost immediately.

A more veteran officer in my own district called out to the shooting as well.

I was nearby too, just trying to get some air in that tire of mine.

I could have gone around the whole scene to get to the garage, but I felt compelled to go to the shooting scene that wasn’t in my area and that was zero percent my responsibility. It may sound harsh, but shootings in North St. Louis are hardly rare. There would be plenty of other officers on the scene in no time, but I stayed my course on Vandeventer and ran right into the huge crowd of people gathering at the gas station where a woman and a man had just been shot.

I made my way through the crowd to the woman on the ground at the gas station.

She was young, maybe early twenties. I was hard to tell. The blood and mucus and other shit on her face made it hard to tell what she might look like on her best day.

She was unconcious and if she was breathing, it was too shallow for me to tell.

A complete stranger tended to her as she lay there dying.

“Sir, were you with her?” I asked.

“No. I was pumping gas and she was pumping gas. She got shot man”

He was talking to her.

“Keep that up, sir. Keep talking to her, the ambulance is almost here,” I said.

The crowd nearby was angry.

“Where’s the goddamn ambulance!?” A lady screamed. “Where’s the fucking ambulance?? We don’t need the fucking police, she need a ambulance!!”

“The ambulance is coming, ma’am. It’s on its way.” I assured this woman I sort of wanted to punch in the face.

I knelt down near the woman as she lay there dying.

Maybe she was already dead.

I thought she was.

“Keep talking to her sir, you’re doing great,” I told the stranger helping a young woman he didn’t know.

I still didn’t really know what had happened, so I asked the man tending to the dying woman what happened.

“She was pumping gas man. This is her car. Somebody came and shot her.”

It made sense now.

It’s hard to construct an incident in your mind when there are hundreds of people around yelling and screaming, but it started to make sense to me now.

Then I heard crying.

“What the fuck was that?” I thought to myself.

I stood up and looked into her car.

Kids.

Little kids.

Not even little kids, they were babies.

There were three, maybe four of them in the back seat of the car. I only remember three of them. One was asleep. The other two were awake, but not aware of what was happening.

They were so young and so tiny.

The ambulance showed up as I told a younger officer to get the kids from the car.

“Hand me that first one,” I said.

“Bring the other two over here so they don’t see their mom like that.” I’ve seen people in many states of alive during my fifteen plus years as an officer, and I was certain that this woman was at least walking to the light as I spoke.

The other officer, the one with twenty-seven years of service looked at me and spoke.

“There’s no way.” He said.

I knew what he meant.

The officer leaning into the car handed me the first baby as I’d asked and I walked with him over towards the police tape separating the scene from the crowd.

The boy was maybe eight or nine months old and he was sleeping.

“This is what sleeping like a baby must mean,” I thought.

He was maybe nine months old and handsome as handsome could be.

I cuddled him in my arms and wondered what my wife would say when I called her and told her that I was going to bring a baby home tonight.

In the middle of what can best be described as chaos, me, a forty-one year old white curmudgeon of a police officer held a nine month old black baby in my arms and nearly shed a tear.

I can count on three fingers the number of times I’ve shed a tear in my uniform, and every one of them involved a police officer’s funeral and some bagpipes.

For whatever reason though, I nearly shed tears as I held a baby whose mother I was sure was dying on the other side of a Chevy Impala.

As he was awoken because of the crowd noise, I wondered how he’d react. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I wanted him to stay asleep through this whole ordeal.

He rubbed the sleep from his face, and as babies who are awaken from their slumber prematurely do, he looked around confused by what was going on. He finally joined the ranks of the fully cognizant and made eye contact with me.

Just as I thought he was going to cry, he smiled. He smiled so big that his pacifier fell from his mouth.

We shared a few smiles and coochie coos with each other before he decided he was wet or hungry or just plain wanted his mother instead of the stranger holding him right then and there and began crying.

It’s been a little while since I’d held a baby that small, and my skills had clearly eroded. In my defense, I didn’t have a bottle or a baby toy with which to distract him.

As EMS raised the stretcher with his mother on it, I covered the baby’s face by touching my forehead to his.

“Shhhhhhhhh,” I whispered. “It’ll be okay.”

The boy continued to cry and I knew I could never soothe him.

He wanted his mom just then. I knew that from my own experience as a dad.

I knew when my own kids wanted their mom, just as I’d learned to know when they wanted me instead.

Parents get it.

Believing that their mother was being put into the back of an ambulance never to be seen again, I rubbed that baby’s head and hugged him tight.

He stopped crying for a few moments and I put his binky back in his mouth.

I looked towards three other officers trying to console three other, older kids and suddenly felt sad for all of them.

I looked at the baby in my arms and without thinking, I told him that I loved him.

He looked at me and furrowed his brow. I felt awkward all of a sudden.

I’ve made it a point with my own kids to say I love you as often as I can, because I suck at saying it, so I have to make myself say what couldn’t be any more true in my heart. The disconnect there is one of those things I just don’t get.

The baby started to cry some more and a sergeant came over and took the baby from me so that I could tend to something else.

As I watched the kids, kids I assumed were brothers, trying to register what was happening, my heart sank.

I walked through the crowd to a mini mart and made my way inside.

All eyes were on me in an uncomfortable way.

“Do you have any juice or milk I can have?” I asked. “I’ll bring money tomorrow. I don’t have any cash right now, but it’s for the kids across the street.”

After I said that, the folks in the store relaxed and were very accomodating. “Here, here, here, take this. How many do you need?”

“Just one.” I said.

Only the one seemed old enough for a drink outside of a bottle. The others seemed too young.

I made my way back to the kids and extracted the straw from its wrapper and poked it through the hole as only a dad with ten plus years of service can do.

I knelt down and gave the oldest brother his drink and told him to promise me he’d take care of his little brothers.

“Be a good big brother, okay? I’m the oldest of my brothers. It’s an important job.”

He said he would.

He got it.

He knows what’s going on because I suspect he’s a kid who’s living a rough life.

The news crews came and did their interviews.

I watched from my car as the news crews turned off their cameras and made their phone calls.

By this point, I’d heard that the woman who was shot was in critical but stable condition.

I was stunned when I heard that.

God bless EMS crews and trauma units for what they’re able to do, because I’d have lost a lot of money betting that the woman I saw on the ground earlier was going to meet her maker very soon.

That she’s alive makes me happy.

While I have my doubts, I hope her near death experience will cause her to appreciate her life and love her kids as though she were dying, because last night on that gas station parking lot, she was.

 

Posted in Police Stories, Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 77 Comments

That post last week…

Um, so remember last week this time when I was being bombarded with views to my blog because of that post I wrote that went sort of viral and stuff?

Well, it did. I lost count at the 75,000 views point. This one post nearly doubled the number of views of my nearly two year old blog. Wow!

Not only did it get hella shared on social media (cool people say that, right?), it was also Freshly Pressed, the next day. I understand that striking while the iron is hot is one of those things, but it really did catch me off guard.

I had started about twelve different posts about Ferguson during various stages of intoxication over the week prior to my post last week, but none of them felt right.

I wrote out of anger towards looters, then out of empathy for the family of the “victim” and I wrote out of anger towards people judging all cops based on a few and it went on and on. I never wrote anything that felt comfortable, until last Tuesday.

Last Tuesday, I woke up early and met the wife at Gman’s school. It was our last first day of preschool, so I didn’t want to miss it, even though I worked late the night before and may or may not have had several Bud Light Limes with the dogs when I did finally get home.

IMG_0192.JPG
Gratuitous cute kid pic (our last first day of preschool, hopefullly?)

I left Gman at school and returned home with every intention of falling to sleep again. ALL THE KIDS WERE IN SCHOOL!! Alas, after lying there for a bit, I had to accept the fact that, in spite of the rare moment of peace, I wasn’t going to fall asleep again. Hell bent on not getting out of bed yet, I reached for the iPad and started to write a post.

I knew I wanted to address the shitty events in Ferguson, because writing helps me process things, but I didn’t want to write anything that was inflammatory or that could necessarily be perceived as taking sides on any of the myriad issues that everyone had taken sides on by then.

It had dawned on me that I was getting inquiries from friends, both reality based and online, asking if I was okay and whether or not I was in the Ferguson mess. The folks asking about me were as close to me as the neighboring town I live in and as far away as the other side of the world.

It seemed as though the media had made the entire St. Louis region appear as though it was in shambles, and that simply wasn’t the case. Unless you were in the epicenter of the rioting, you could still be in the region, even in most of Ferguson itself, and not know that there was anything unusual going on. So, I wrote a post that was simply my, “I’m doing okay, thanks” answer to all my friends.

I wrote it while laying naked in bed, and like most things I do naked in bed, it didn’t take very long to finish. I clicked publish and was satisfied that I had posted something and could soon enjoy the comments of my regular 10-15 online friends.

After putting on some pants and getting coffee into my system, I got a text from Wife that said, “nice work, daddy!”

I hadn’t started cutting the grass yet, so I had no idea what she was talking about. It turns out she was talking about my post. Well, Wife is one of my harsher critics, so when I saw that she had posted a link to it on Facebook, I had to read it again myself.

I read it a few times, actually, and decided it was a pretty okay post. The story really tells itself; all I did was put it into words what was going on in my wee brain.

The post was shared by some of my other friends, and then friends of theirs, and before I knew it, it was all over my Twitter feed as well. Even the mayor of St.Louis’s press person retweeted it.

I was contacted by CNN to do an interview with Don Lemon, whoever that is, and by another agency as well.

It was pretty crazy, but I’m really glad to hear that so many people enjoyed the post.

I certainly didn’t invent the idea of being nice to the kids on patrol, and in fact, I wrote once about one of the men who inspired me to do it here.

Police officers going out of their way to help people is an everyday thing, it just seldom makes the news because, who cares if an officer gives a homeless man a few bucks or some new shoes or whatever, right?

We’re all human beings, so we should be doing what we can to help each other.

I don’t know how to find comments on places like Reddit or Stumblewhatever, but I can say that the comments on my blog page and most of those I’ve found outside of my blog have been supportive and positive. I say that only because it gives me hope that people still care.

People still enjoy hearing about the good that humanity has to offer, and that’s encouraging.

So, to all you new followers, welcome. If you haven’t read my other posts, you probably shouldn’t. Most of them aren’t touching in any way, though there are many pictures of my lips touching a bottle of beer, so there’s that.

I hope you’ll stick around and have fun with me here.

To my regular readers, thank you as always. I looked at the other post I wrote that was Freshly Pressed just about a year before the one last week, and was amazed to see that many of the people who commented on that post are still my friends today. Yes, I consider my followers my friends.

Thank you all so much for staying with me. Your comments and likes and love on Facebook make blogging one of those things I look forward to doing.

Well fuck (almost an entire post without saying it!), I have to get ready for work now, so until next time…peace!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 70 Comments

Meanwhile, just outside of ferguson…

I followed a trail of blood up the concrete steps as Deja vu overtook my thoughts.

I’d been here before, just a few short months ago, doing the same exact thing, following a trail of blood to an open front door.

As was the case then, on this night there had been another call for shots fired heard coming from the street.

A trail of blood, an open door and no body to be found.

Just like last time, the person was taken to the hospital by a friend, so we wait to hear from the hospital when they make their mandatory call about somebody coming into the emergency room with bullets in their body.

As I was checking the house for another injured or dead person, I couldn’t help but notice that the house was exactly as it had been before.

There was no furniture in the living room and there was trash all over the place. Paper plates with leftover food and cigarette butts littered the kitchen counter. The upstairs was where the televisions and furniture were kept. When you live in fear of drive by shootings, upstairs is the safer place to spend most of your time.

As I was leaving the kitchen, my eyes were drawn to the floor by a cockroach scurrying over a button, the kind that you can pin to your shirt to announce things like, “I voted” or “I gave blood!”

This button had a picture of Michael Brown on it and the words “Justice for Mike Brown” or some similar message around the photo.

There was something queer about the button being on this particular kitchen floor on this particular night, surrounded by roaches and drops of blood and dog shit as well.

I shook my head and left the house satisfied that nobody was dead or injured inside.

Just outside of Ferguson, life is going on.

The shootings and robberies and burglaries and car accidents and domestic incidents are still happening, and people are still calling for the police to come help them.

People still need our help, and we’re still providing it.

I’ve received many messages from people around the world asking me if I’m alright, asking whether or not I’ve been in Ferguson.

I am fine and I was up there for a little bit, yes, though not on the front lines of the chaos.

There seems to be a perception, outside of this area, that it’s a war zone here, that the whole region is in shambles.

I can see how a person might think such a thing. I mean, God forbid the national media folks take their cameras outside of the immediate area where all the trouble is happening to see that life is still being lived by decent folks, even just outside of Ferguson.

Just outside of Ferguson, here in St. Louis, I watched as several black kids played basketball in the street. They were the same kids I had watched playing ball several weeks ago.

The were playing with a basket that had a net attached to it. That’s a novelty in the city.

Several weeks ago, however, long before anyone knew who Mike Brown was, I watched as they bickered and argued and almost got into a fist fight, as young boys sometimes do, over whether or not a shot had gone through the rim or not.

“It went in,” I said from the car.

“Awe, NO WAY!” The defending boys protested.

“You need new glasses,” one of the boys shouted in jest.

He was probably right, but the ball had gone through the hoop, I was sure of it.

“And you boys need a new net,” I replied.

I got a call right about then and had to go. As I drove off, one of the boys asked me if I’d get them a net. I promised I would and left for my call.

A few days went by and I’d forgotten to get the net. I felt bad, so I drove around North St. Louis looking for a basketball net. Unbelievably, it’s difficult to find such an item in the area where I patrol.

Poverty and crime aren’t great assets for areas looking to woo businesses, so I had to venture into the County, towards Ferguson, ironically.

On a Saturday morning, I finally went to a Walmart and bought several nets. I went back to where the boys had been playing and got out of my car and started to walk to the netless rim.

As I was walking towards the rim, a man in a red Camaro parked right in front of the basket put his hands out the window and said, “I ain’t doin’ nothin’ wrong, officer. Just waitin’ on my girl.”

It’s sad that he assumed I was headed to him, but I get why.

“I didn’t say you were doing anything wrong, partner. Carry on with your day,” I told the man.

Thankfully, the rim wasn’t set at the 10 foot regulation height, so I could reach it without having to balance on something.

I started to put the net on the rim and the guy in the Camaro got out and walked over.

“You bought that net?” He asked.

“I certainly didn’t steal it,” I joked. “I told the kids I would bring one a couple of weeks ago, so I’m making good on my promise finally.”

“Awe hell, that’s really cool.” He said.

He came over to the rim, grabbed the other side of the net and helped me put it on. We shook hands, thanked each other and went about our days.

As I watched the kids playing basketball the other day, one of the boys asked me if I was the cop who bought the net.

“Yep. It’s been a few weeks now and I’m still waiting to hear somebody say thank you.” I was just being sarcastic, but I’ll be damned if every last one of those little buggers didn’t immediately say thank you right then and there.

I was given the honor of a couple of shots with a ball that had no air in it and proceeded to chuck an air ball and what I believe is still called a brick before hanging my head in shame and leaving the kids to their game. I looked to the porch and got a smile from one of the adults, maybe one of their moms, and I smiled back. Smiles are small victories to me. They probably laughed at me, but if they did, they had the courtesy to wait until I left, at least.

The boys weren’t concerned with what was going on in Ferguson because they were too busy being little boys.

Most of the other people I’ve dealt with aren’t consumed by it either.

The Subway clerk was still friendly and didn’t spit on my sandwich.

An old woman took my hand in a parking lot and asked to pray with me. I’m not normally into such things, but in times of crisis, being open to anything can only help. She asked Jesus to lift me up and help me be just and fair and to remain safe as I do God’s bidding.

I don’t know about all that, but I was glad for the prayer. She was the second person to ask if they could pray with me in a week. It hadn’t happened, that I can remember, in the fifteen years prior I’ve done this job.

I’m still responding for calls about accidents and shootings and assaults and everything we always deal with.

Life goes on, even when there’s chaos.

Crime never takes the day off, and may even become worse when there’s chaos.

Still, I am responding and I am helping and I am hoping, just like I believe the citizens are, that the mess in Ferguson is resolved soon.

We hope all this violence isn’t for nothing.

Something has to change, and change for the better.

Shame on all of us, if we let this pass and we don’t become better people for having endured it.

That’d be a real shitter.

For my part, I’m going to just keep doing the best job I can.

To start, I’m going to buy a basketball and fill it with air.

I’ll bring it to some boys who have a basket with a net, but no air in their ball.

It’s a little thing, but it’s something I hope will help to build trust and healing and keep them from growing up scared of the police.

It’s the least I can do out here, just outside of Ferguson.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 242 Comments