Friday, November 21, 2014

When I Grow Up...

Welcome back to another edition of the November Blogathon.  Today's topic:  What did you want to be when you grew up?  How did that pan out?  Do you still have those dreams?

When I was in 1st grade my teacher, Mrs. Adams, had all of us lay on crisp white butcher paper and using a permanent marker, she traced around us.  From there, we were to cut out our giant paper doll of US and draw a "uniform" (and ultimately a self portrait) of what we wanted to be when we grew up.  That 2D version of us was sitting in our chair for Open House that year.  

I drew a police officer.  You see, both of my parents were in law enforcement.  For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a cop -- just like them!  When you're a pie-eyed naive youth who hasn't had their mind warped that cops are racist power-hungry savages out to put everyone in jail and raise your insurance rates with speeding ticket quotas, you believe they are brave heroes, saviors and, much like Superman, they fight for truth and justice.

As an innocent first-grader, that was my aspiration -- to be a police officer (or Marie Osmond, but ya know... I'll just go with my initial response and paper doll personification.)

That was, however, until I got old enough and, more importantly, smart enough, to realize what an ass whip of a job that really and truly was!  I have no idea how someone would want to do that for a living, but I'm so thankful that there ARE people who want to deal with the dregs of society on a daily basis.

So... flash forward to the early 90s.  I moved to Colorado Springs and worked in the Child Support Enforcement Unit of the District Attorney's office as a liaison with the IV-D (welfare) office.  After a while in that environment, I became completely burned out and jaded by dealing with the welfare moms who kept popping out babies like Pez dispensers, not knowing who the names of their babies' fathers.  One mom had 8 kids from newborn to age 8... by 8 different dads.  I had a dad pull up in his Jaguar, wearing some fancy-schmancy suit complete with a blinged out Rolex watch walk his mortified 16 year old daughter inside with her newborn.  Why were they there?  He wanted to put her on the welfare system for food stamps and WIC because he didn't feel it was his responsibility to care for her "bastard son."  

Therefore, when the opportunity presented itself to interview for an open position in the Communication Center at the Sheriff's Office (conveniently just as my section of the DA's office was being privatized), I jumped at the chance!  While I wasn't involved in "law enforcement," I was involved in law enforcement SUPPORT which was much better for me!  

Our commander was big on teamwork and we were actually asked to go do ride-alongs with deputies from our shift every few weeks.  This gave us an opportunity to see first-hand what they did day-in and day-out which, in turn, enabled us in the Comm Center to do a better job of supporting them.  Because of this experience, my eyes were opened to a whole new world of... well... the intensity of the job.  It was one I would never EVER want to do.

One of the major take-aways from that whole experience was that they (officers) were there for the greater good even when they typically only saw people at their worst.  And, that it wasn't anything I would ever want to do.  Ever.  Never.

I was able to witness domestic violence, drunks, gang bangers, strung-out druggies, violated children, homeless, racism, pursuits, fights, and horrific car accidents involving dismemberment and more.  I have had to help remove a passed out, drugged up heroin addict from a bathroom stall where she still had the needle in her arm.  Not her finest moment... and that's why it's always important to heed your mother's advice to always wear clean underwear.  You just never know!

Working in the Comm Center wasn't all fun and games either because although we weren't present, we often SPOKE with people when they were at their worst as they dealt with major trauma and/or life-changing events.  It was all part of the job, you see.

I've talked suicidal callers down off the ledge, assist in coordinating rescues for horses who have fallen down a ravine, helped deliver a baby over the phone, helped coordinate the rescue of a man who was starting to descend into a diabetic coma -- while driving, spoke with a woman who had just shot her husband (thanks again to CSPD for transferring THAT one 3 minutes before my shift ended!), lightning strikes, cougar attacks, vehicle repos that turned into shooting matches, meteorites, choking infants, child abuse, crazy people who had the interior of their homes covered in aluminum foil because they thought aliens were sending satellite beams into their home, officers in distress, shots fired, house fires, wolf attacks... and the random caller who misdialed and thought he was ordering a pizza from Pizza Hut.  

The best calls were always when tourists coming down Ute Pass (Hwy. 24) would call 911 because a herd of elk were blocking the road.  When you have to explain to morons that that wasn't an emergency.  We had to remain professional, but don't think I didn't pop a mute button to sarcastically ask someone if he politely asked them to move.  

This job, too, led me to become a bit more jaded in that I have always had zero tolerance for bullshit... and dealing with WHINEY ASS WOMEN complaining their ex boyfriend (whom they have a retraining order against) wouldn't leave their house... after they invited them over... and welcomed him into her home... (insert eyeroll here).  "Well, my love, you violated your own restraining order, so we will send a deputy to bring you both to jail.  Sound like a plan?  I thought so.   Buh bye."

Between the two, I would take the Comm Center job again in a heartbeat but there is NO WAY I would EVER want to be on the streets in any capacity.  My hats off to those who do, however!  

My mom was employed at the Irving Police Department for almost 30 years.  My dad was a lieutenant at Dallas Police Department and retired after 32 years.  I have no idea how they did it... but so thankful that they did.  They'll always be heroes in my eyes but neither of them think of themselves as such.  It's just part of the job.

But, I have to admit, it would have been reallllllllly cool to be Marie Osmond, cause I'm a little bit country.  Yes, I had these!  Donny was such a heartthrob with his purple socks.

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Paula Kaye said...

Very well said. My youngest son is a deputy here in Kansas. And he loves it! He lives and breathes police work. He told me once that he would do if even if they didn't pay him. I am thankful he has a job that still, after 10 years, he is eager to go to every day. We dealt with much of the same kind of bullshit when I worked in hospital nursing....I couldn't tolerate those that were freeloading off the system!

Angela Hevron said...

I had Donnie and Marie Color Forms. Do you remember Color Forms? I LOVED them!