Thursday, March 22, 2007

A New Slant on Early Release

Sorry that I haven’t been around for a few days. I am trying to put the finishing touches on my thesis so that I can graduate on May 12 as scheduled. Some things have been interfering in my concentration and sending my stress level through the roof.

My mom has been occupying a great deal of time helping her get her utilities turned on in her new house, find a plumber, tile, etc. to remodel her bathroom and refinish the floors before she moves in. I asked her to wait until I finished school to start all of this but she found a house she likes so the time table has been moved up.

I have been on a board over a large organization for 9 or 10 years that is imploding. We had a meeting Tuesday which can only be described as hostile. I did not get home until midnight from a meeting that started at 6 PM. My telephone which never rings has been steadily ringing for three days and so has my cell phone. My email box has been overflowing.

My car overheated. It turned out that I had to get a new radiator to the tune of $250. I also have to renew my tags on both of my cars and camper in addition to renewing insurance on all three before the end of March.

We have been blessed with a visit from Sharon’s sister-in-law and kids for the last two days. Their visit was a bright spot in my spring break but it also interrupted my work.

My sister called this morning with not so good news about my brother-in-law. His diagnosis included the word terminal. She wants me to tell our mom in person so I will be traveling Saturday to tell her the news.

I did manage to get a much needed massage (birthday present) and go to the gym today.

On the way to the gym, I passed the spot of a call many moons ago which caused me to laugh so I will share it with all of you.

My partner and I were riding around, bored, on a Tuesday afternoon. We had been assigned to the northeast part of town which was not a hopping place in those days. The dispatcher told us to go uptown to BOLO (be on the lookout for) for a white male that was bothering kids who were riding their bicycles

Us: Do you have a better description?

Dispatch: 10-4, suspect is wearing two pair of socks and a baseball cap.

We started laughing making comments (not on the air) that he ought to be easy to spot if that is all he was wearing. We also were making less than nice comments about the dispatcher and how a shirt color or hair color might be more helpful.

Us: 10-81 (in the area)

Dispatch: [laughing] 10-4

We drive around for a few minutes until we see some kids bicycles lying in an alley, no kids in sight. We turn up the alley and there he is …a white male, 6 foot, blond curly hair, wearing a ball cap and two pair of socks. ….that’s all ….nothing else….. just those items and his birthday suit. We get out and try to ascertain who he is and why he has removed his clothing. I am sure that we were a sight, a tall fat bald headed man and a tall thin blond girl both in uniform talking to a naked guy wearing a ball cap. The naked guy standing there like it was the most normal thing in the world.

We found that he had just been released from the psych ward of the local hospital. He got hot so he took off his clothes. They were neatly folded behind the dumpster. He just wanted to borrow the kids bicycle because he was tired of walking.

We put his clothes in the trunk and placed him in handcuffs and off we went to jail. We charged him with public lewdness. You should have seen the faces of the jail personnel and trustees when we stepped out of the elevator. I think they let him out just a little too soon!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Greetings to all my readers! Wear green today in celebration of my birthday! I have never been able to figure out how I became so famous that people in many countries celebrate my special day and why green is the color of choice. I was just a wee little thing when all of this started so I didn't have much say in it all. I do like the parades and I like that others drink green beer although I don't touch the nasty horse piss myself.

Enjoy a parade or a drink on me today! Look for a Shamrock, kiss an Leprechaun, BUT if you find that pot of gold must share with the birthday girl!

Friday, March 16, 2007

They Plump When You Cook Them!

When I got divorced, I moved into a very small (600 sq. ft. or less) apartment in the town where I worked. I got free rent for being security for the complex. The apartment was upstairs with a small balcony off the living area. The building sat at the bottom of a small hill. There was a large grassy area behind it and more apartment buildings at the top of the hill. The apartment beside me was a mirror image of mine. Their bedroom backed up to mine which was entertaining from time to time. When the entertainment got too much, I would put on my headphones, put my Fleetwood Mac album on the turntable, and sing every song at the top of my lungs. NOT pretty even to me!

I had very little furniture. In my bedroom, I had an extra long twin bed, a big black hope chest, and a small chest of drawers. I used the hope chest as a bedside table in addition to storing my sweats and such. I worked second shift at the time. When I came home I would take my stainless steel S&W 357 magnum revolver out of its holster and place it beside my bed on the chest facing the exterior wall toward my balcony. The hope chest also held my hat, wallet, and a windup style alarm clock with the on-off button on the back.

Due to the upheaval in my life, my sleeping and eating habits were a little off. I wasn’t eating and I would sit up until the radio stations would go off the air (OK, I am telling my age. Things haven’t always been 24 hours a day.) One night, I got off work about two and didn’t attempt to go to bed until 4 or so. I forgot that I had to be in court at 7AM the following morning! When I realized that I had to get up so early, I began to worry that I would oversleep. I called the third shift dispatcher and asked for a wake-up call at 5:30. I set my alarm for 5:15. The call from dispatch was a backup in case I turned off my alarm (no snooze, it was a windup) and fell back to sleep. I went to sleep.

I was in deep R.E.M. sleep when the alarm sounded. I rolled over, mashed the button on the back of the clock, and went soundly back to sleep. I was on my left side facing the hope chest. I started smelling something unusual….it didn’t fit into my dream….what is that smell?

I opened one eye and looked toward the clock…5:20. I closed my eye. That smell…what was it? I knew that I should recognize it but I couldn’t place it. Half asleep..I kept thinking about the smell. GUNPOWDER! Why do I smell gunpowder? I opened one eye back up and looked past the clock. I saw a large black circle on my wall with a hole in the middle of it. Closed my eye …opened both eyes…looked again …it was still there.

Oh SHIT! I jumped out of bed realizing that I had just shot a hole through my bedroom wall …. the wall between my bedroom and my balcony. The balcony that faced the grassy knoll, the balcony that looked up the hill toward other apartments! I literally ran out of my bedroom, wearing next to nothing, through my living room and out onto my balcony. I looked all around searching for bodies laying on the grass. Nothing, no one out. OK, that was a good sign. I turned and looked at the wall and saw a much larger blackened hole. Damn ….. what if I shot into an apartment?

I ran back inside. What should I do? I slowed my breathing and picked up the phone. I dialed dispatch.

Dispatch: ** PD, how may I help you?

Me: Ummm, it’s A*****, I am up already so no need for that wake up call. [deep breath] By the way, have you guys gotten any calls about gunshots in my neighborhood this morning? [holding breath]

Dispatch: No, it was a quiet night and nothing like that has come in.

Me: [sighing] Oh, Ok, I must have heard a car backfire, never mind.

I hung up the phone, sat on the couch and started shaking. Where did the bullet go?

I ran into the bedroom, dropped to my knees, and looked out of the hole. All I could see was my grill that sat on the balcony. It had a nice new hole right in the side of it. I put on some clothes and went back outside. I looked around. I still didn’t see any bodies so I turned to look at the grill.

Did you ever see that hotdog commercial, I think it was B*llp*rk Franks, that “plump when you cook them?” In the commercial, it showed the hotdogs punched out the side of the grill as they were cooked and “plumped.” No hole, just the metal stretched in the shape of the hotdog. That was what I saw when I looked at the side of my grill. The bullet had enough velocity to go through an exterior wall, through the side of the grill, but not enough to go through the other side. I opened it and fished around in the ashes and found the bullet. I still have it in my jewelry box. I kept it to remind me of how important gun safety is.

Relieved, I went back inside. I went back in the bedroom to try to figure out how I shot a hole in my wall. Apparently, when the alarm sounded, I reached to mash the button on the back. Instead of grabbing the clock, I grabbed the trigger of my gun and squeezed. I still to this day cannot understand why the sound didn’t awaken me. Have you ever fired a 357 less than two feet from your face in a closed space? It is very loud! Deafeningly loud! The smell awakened me…not the noise! Go figure.

Ok, it was time to get to court. I jumped into the shower and then slung on all the accoutrements of the job. I quickly cleaned my gun, reloaded, and hauled ass to court.

When I got back home, I stuffed the hole with newspaper and put duck tape over it on the outside. The building was gray, who would notice? I covered over the hole inside with lots of toothpaste. I think it took a whole tube before it looked solid enough to pass for sheetrock. When I moved, it was still fixed like that. I never bothered to patch it properly.

I am very thankful that I was always careful to point my gun to the outside and that no one was outside at the time. I never slept with my gun within arms reach of my bed again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It Has Begun!

My soon to be 79 year old mom fell and broke her shoulder last summer while she was visiting my cousin in Seattle. It was her right shoulder and she is right handed. Although, she has recovered, she has lost a great deal of use of her arm and hand. She is a very independent control freak but even she has admitted that she can no longer take care of her 4 acre yard full of flowers and a garden. So..the hunt for a house began several months ago. She found one two miles from my house and the buying process began.

Monday night, my mom drove up to my house to spend the night before the closing. She brought her new cell phone and I spent half the night entering numbers into the phone. We also had to get her to pick out a tone that she could hear. She said that the best show to watch on TV was the off button while she sat in my normal place on the couch.

Mom needed to put her van in the shop to have the air conditioner repaired while she was here. She never asked me to take off work to go with her to her closing but I decided to anyway. The plan for the day was to drop the van off at the shop, pick up Sharon’s car that she had left in town, and go get breakfast. We were going to meet a man at the new house to get an estimate on refinishing the hardwood floors and then a plumber was meeting us to give her an estimate on remodeling the bathroom. After lunch, we were going to the 1:30 closing. On the way to the shop, mom tells me that she is not sure what the amount to write on the check nor to whom it should be made out. She said that she tried to call her realtor but had to leave a voice mail.

We got to the shop and found that the owner had a doctor’s appointment and would not be in until Wednesday. This really did not present a problem because my mom had already asked to borrow my truck for a few days. I drive a vehicle that gets much better gas mileage for the most part so not having her van was not an issue.

Mom: Well, maybe I should bring it back some other time.

Me: Mr. H will be back tomorrow. You cannot drive it when you can’t turn off the heat, you’ll have a stroke.

Mom: But Mr. H isn’t here so I can’t get back this afternoon.

Me: I thought you were borrowing my truck anyway.

Mom: It’s just not what I planned.

Me: [sighing] What do you want to do?

Mom: I guess we’ll leave it if you think it will be OK.

So, we leave the truck at the shop that was open for business even though Mr. H wasn’t there and headed to breakfast. Mom’s cell rang, it was her realtor. They were just chatting away so I told her to ask about the check. She ignored me. They talk a while longer; I suggest that she ask about the check again. She gave me the ‘I know what I am doing look’ and said, “I already know about the check.” She had just told me that she didn’t so I asked if I could have her cell phone. Not only did I find out the amount and to whom the check should be addresses but also that it had to be a bank draft! Ok…add run by the bank before meeting the floor guy.

It was only 8:15 by this time and my mom was pouting because I made her feel “inadequate.” I am not a morning person, not grouchy; it is just that I don’t function on all cylinders before 9 or so. Not the best start for my ‘day off.’

We ordered breakfast and I smoothed out her hurt feelings. We headed toward the bank that I use to see about obtaining a bank draft. The bank opened at 9 and we arrived shortly thereafter. Well, my mom’s bank does not have a branch anywhere within an hour’s drive of us and my bank will not do the transaction. They suggested that we have mom’s bank wire the money to my bank, no guarantee that it would get there before her 1:30 closing, and they could issue the check in my name, etc. My mom is starting to panic and my stress level isn’t exactly low. I was pretty irritated at the realtor for not telling mom earlier…like before she left home.

We went to another bank in town and they were great. They wouldn’t issue the check but they found a bank about 30 minutes away that was affiliated that would. While they were calling, I left mom at the bank and ran to the realtor’s office to pick up a key to the house. So, at 10:25 we left the bank and flew to the house to meet the flooring guy. He was prompt and they agreed on a price and date. He left just as the plumber arrived. They talked and talked and decided on a plan. It was about 11:35 when the plumber left. I rushed mom out the door to get in the car and it wouldn’t unlock! WTF, the keyless entry malfunctioned. It would not do anything. So, I had to unlock the door with the key which promptly set off the alarm! Welcome to the neighborhood. Hope no one works 3rd shift. I got the alarm off and off we go to the bank across the river. The bank issued the check, we ran through a drive thru, and arrived at the closing with 10 minutes to spare.

The closing started 30 minutes late but went off uneventfully. I took mom to my house, emptied out the bed of the truck, packed up her dog and sent her home. I emptied the trash and litter box, changed into gym clothes, and went back to town for my 4 PM workout. On the way, I stopped to let someone test drive Sharon’s car.

When I arrived at the gym, I told my trainer to work me to death so I could work off some stress. She took me at my word..I can barely move today!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Front Desk

One of the shit jobs that rolls around at the police department from time to time is working the front desk. It is a most hated job because you would stay incredibly busy and you are stuck inside for an entire shift. You sit at a desk separated from the public by bullet proof glass so that you can take reports and or complaints from walk-ins, and fill out the paperwork for bonds. There is a phone on the desk that makes you cringe when it rings because you know it is someone that the dispatchers could not satisfy. Most of the time, desk duty is given to officers that are temporarily on light duty due to injuries. I always thought that the powers that be believe that desk duty was good medicine and it promoted rapid healing.

One day on day shift, Tommy G. was assigned to the desk. He was not a happy man. Tommy could only be described as a unique individual. He was short for a man and his gut hung so far over his waistband that you couldn’t see the buckle on his gun belt. What little hair he had was greasy and graying. He perpetually had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth or jammed between his thumb and index finger like someone would hold a joint. The smoking issue was one of the reasons that he was so unhappy about the assignment, he couldn’t smoke in the building or out front. That meant that he could only have a smoke break when a unit came in with an arrest or to do reports which on a Saturday morning wasn’t often.

Tommy had a gravelly voice that was plain grating and he talked loudly! When he was on patrol, he didn’t do much patrolling. He would come in to squad meeting in the morning and as soon as he hit the street, he would go home. He would remove his gun belt, sign onto his computer, and stay there until he absolutely had to leave on a call. He would try anything to get out of a call. He was divorced and dated some less than classy women. Tommy bragged that he could speak Spanish enough to take a report or make an arrest.

I had stopped by the office to drop off some reports when I heard Tommy greet someone coming in the door of the police department. No one said anything back to him so I glanced through the door to see who had come in. There was a Hispanic couple standing there talking to each other in Spanish.

Tommy: [in a lazy, non-interested voice] Need help?

Couple: [rather excitedly] Necesito ambulancia.

Tommy: [raising his voice] You need sumpthin, you gotta tell me.

Couple looking at each other confused.

Couple: [frustrated] Necesito ambulancia.

Tommy: [yelling louder] Oh, no Englisho! Needo helpo?

WTF? His “Spanish” consisted of saying everything in English with an “o” added to the end of each word in a very loud voice because talking louder helps people understand in a language they don’t speak! ROFLMAO, what a dweeb!

Fortunately, an officer that actually spoke Spanish happened in the door and got the poor people an ambulance. I don’t believe that they were amused!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Cactus Club Series, Part 2

During that time that the city was dry, I sometimes got a break from riding with Santa’s Helper. One such night, I got partnered up with Mike H. Mike was a couple of years older than me and like me was divorced. Unlike me, who was once divorced, Mike H. was on his fourth divorce. He had a steady girlfriend at the time and he told me that he wanted me to meet her.

I really liked Mike H. but he had the most abrasive personality that I believe I have ever run across. He pissed off everyone he talked to! It didn’t matter if they were a victim, a suspect, or someone asking for directions, he would rub them the wrong way within minutes of coming into contact with them. I would kid him frequently that this was why he couldn’t keep a wife. One day I actually told him that he had an abrasive personality. He didn’t know what the word meant so I explained that sharing space with him was like having your skin rubbed with a Brillo pad. He thought that was the funniest thing he had ever heard. He was very proud of this personality trait so I dubbed him Brillo Billy. The name stuck. I believe that some people would not know who I was talking about if I called him Mike H., they only knew him as Brillo Billy.

So Brillo Billy and I left out on patrol one Saturday afternoon together. As usual, he was chain smoking and drinking coffee in the car. This was not the best combination for fresh breath when closed up in a car for 8 hours together, frankly, his breath was rather foul. He started talking about his girlfriend and how great she was. I was trying to figure why any woman would agree to date a guy whose marriage record was a train wreck and whose breath was so very foul, not to mention his rather obnoxious personality. He decided to drive by her apartment building so that I could meet her.

We pulled up to her building and she was outside getting a laundry basket out of the back of her car. She was average looking and dressed normally. I was really impressed that she actually gave him the time of day until she spoke. She did not have a tooth in her head, no dentures, nothing but pink gums! We talked a few minutes and then we had to go to take some type of report. I didn’t mean to be rude but I had to ask about her teeth or lack thereof. Before he thought, he blurted out that he loved a woman with no teeth because…well, use your imagination…too gross to mention here! I told him that I could not wait to tell the guys about his criteria for selecting women.

Later that night, we went to a club down the street from the Cactus Club that catered to a teen-early 20's crowd. There was no one in the parking lot so we decided to do a walk through inside. The bouncers did not do as good a job of keeping alcohol out of the club as the ones at the Cactus Club. They had some pretty good 80’s rock playing and the dance floor was full. We worked our way through the crowd looking and smelling for violations.

The hair regulation when I was hired was the same for men and women. Our hair could not touch the tops of our ears nor our collar and it had to be tapered, not blocked. I was tall, thin, muscular, had short hair, and wore a bullet proof vest so I was often mistaken for a very young boy by older people. They were not used to women being officers so they just assumed.

We were threading our way through the crowd and this girl about 18 or 19 attached herself to my left arm. She started begging for me to dance with her. I told her no thanks and she kept on. She was literally hanging all over me. I was thinking that she thought that I was a guy so I told her that it wouldn't look right dancing in uniform. She started telling me to take the night off and come back and dance with her. I looked over her shoulder and saw Brillo Billy laughing so hard that he was about to wet himself. My face turned scarlet and I started trying to disengage myself from her. By then, I was starting to stutter I was so taken off guard. She started talking all kinds of trash which led me to believe that she KNEW I wasn’t a guy. That was worse than mistaken identity!

Brillo Billy finally saved me when he said that we had a call. I got the hell out of there as fast as I could. He was cackling! When we got into the car, he struck up a deal. He said that he would never tell a soul that a girl hit on me if I would keep his toothless preference to myself. I thought it was a bang-up deal and as a far as I know, neither of us ever told a soul.... well, until now.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Teeth are for Chewing

Before the advent of the mega convenience stores, we had several little mom and pop grocery stores. One sat on the southeast corner of the intersection of a major highway and the road that went to the local hospital. It was a small long narrow building that had about five parking spaces out front. Nestled up beside the store was a very small, second generation Mackey Dees. The owner of the store was very police friendly so it was a several time a shift stop when time permitted. The Mackey Dees was one of the local teen hang-outs so in the evenings, the parking lot was packed.

One evening, I was still riding with Santa’s Helper and we got a call to check a guy passed out in front of the store. It was about 8PM and a rather slow night in the early summer, short sleeve weather. When we pulled up, there was a 60ish skinny white guy lying on the ground between the parking spots and the front wall of the building. He was not a local so we approached with caution. You could smell the Bay Rum aftershave that he had been drinking a good five feet away.

We tried to get his name and such from him once we got him awake but he was not being cooperative. The owner of the store came out and asked us to remove him from his property. He said that people wouldn’t come in while he was there. It was a reasonable request so we started the removal procedure. Step one was to identify him to see if there were any warrants on him. He had no identification and was not forthcoming with his name so that was somewhat frustrating. We told him to get up and he refused, so that was frustrating also. Santa’s Helper was not the most patient person so once he had had enough of this guy’s fun and games, he decided that it was time to go to jail for public drunkenness, a slightly different charge that public intoxication.

We each grabbed up under an arm and heaved him to his feet. He was a dishrag until his feet hit the ground, then he stiffened up like a board. He held his arms out at about a 30 degree angle from his body, back straight, knees and elbows locked. I don’t know what this skinny old man did for a living but I was thinking a roofer or something labor intensive. He didn’t look muscular just skinny but looks can be deceiving. We started to struggle with him, trying to get his hands behind him so we could cuff him.

Now understand, Santa’s Helper was no small man and I was very strong then but we were having trouble, his arms wouldn’t bend. Apparently, the kids in Mackey Dees were bored and one of them had noticed the dance going on in front of the grocery store. A few had come out and were standing in the parking lot watching. We finally got his hands behind him and cuffed. We half drug him to the car and opened the door to place him inside. He wouldn’t bend! We needed to fold him in the middle to get him in the car, nope…not doing it!

Santa’s Helper grabbed at his legs and I grabbed around his neck with the intention of placing him in a choke hold. The next thing I knew, this son of a bitch had clamped down on my left forearm with all of his choppers! He was like a snapping turtle! He would not let go and it hurt! I was screaming at him to let go and I reached back to my right hip pocket. In that pocket was a 7 inch spoon shaped lead lined leather slapjack. It was legal to carry then and the only guideline that we had was not to hit someone in the head with them. I had never used it but I am pretty sure that my plan was to hit him in the head so he would let go.

As my hand closed around my slapjack, Santa’s Helper grabbed my hand.
Me: “What?!!?”
SH: [very quietly] “Look over your shoulder.”

All of Mackey Dees, employees and all, had emptied out into the parking lot to watch.

SH: “Too many witnesses.”

I released my slapjack and took the flat side of my hand between my thumb and index finger and smashed it into the underside of his nose at the base of his nostrils. He let go from the shock and I completed my choke hold. As he went limp, Santa’s Helper grabbed his legs and shoved them on the back seat. He ran around, opened the car door, and yanked him into the car feet first. I crammed his upper body in the car and slammed the door. A cheer went up from the Mackey Dees crowd.

I looked down and saw the perfect outline of his teeth in my forearm. It was bruising and swelling quickly but thankfully, no broken skin. We jumped into the car and started towards the jail. The guy started kicking the back windows and managed to break one of them about a block from city hall. We drove down the ramp into the basement where we unloaded prisoners. Just as we came to a stop, the elevator door opened and the shift Lieutenant stepped out. He told me to go upstairs and clean up my arm. He said that he would help Santa’s Helper with the prisoner.

I got on the elevator and as the doors closed, I saw the Lieutenant bounce the guy’s head off the trunk of the car. I never went up to booking. I did not want to know what I was powerless to change. I can just about bet that he never bit anyone again!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Little Miss Angry Teen

The second year that I was a teacher, a large majority of the student body knew me as a police officer. I had been a DARE officer in many of their elementary schools; all of their middle schools; and a few of their 10th grade health classes. Kids were still asking me if I was working undercover in the school. I had arrested a few of them and many of their relatives. I had a reputation of being strict but fair.

A new girl was placed in my Algebra 1A class a couple of months into the school year. She was short, stocky, street smart, angry, and in a nut shell, education was not her greatest concern. Usually, I can connect with this type child. I have been in their homes and know the horrors of their lives so I don't sweat the small stuff. I set parameters and define consequences of going outside those parameters. If they mess up, they suffer the consequences. After they serve their sentence, I treat them as if they had never had an infraction.

I pride myself on having this ability. In fact, when I took over the high crime unit, the ‘boys’ tried me by defying an order and I followed through just like I told them I would. After, I acted like it never happened. One of my guys, RA that had been in the military, told a friend of mine that I was the best supervisor he had ever had because of this trait. I was honored at the compliment.

Back to the girl, she got into trouble a lot and was in and out of in-school suspension. I would take the time to go see her and check to see if she understood the assignment that I sent her. She actually wasn’t that far behind in math, not like most of the others in that class. Her behavior just got in the way of her learning.

One day, I noticed that she was writing a note instead of paying attention in class. When that happens, I float around the room until I can come up behind the transgressor. I remove the note from their desk and put it in my pocket. Later, when students are otherwise engaged, I read it. If it is just kid stuff, I give it back at the end of class and warn the student not to write notes in class. If it has inappropriate content, I send the note to the assistant principal to handle in whatever manner needed.

I float up behind her, reach down and pick up the note. Like a cat after a toy, she reached out and snatched the note from my hand! In the process, her nails clawed a great deal of skin off the back of my hand. My class froze …..watching…..waiting for my reaction. It all happened in a flash but it felt like slow motion….. I reached toward her … my mind, I was planning how I would snatch her out of her desk, body-slam her in the floor, cuff her…WAIT…MENTAL BRAKES APPLIED!

I froze …. TEACHER…..TEACHER…chill, think…..

I knelt down by her desk and in a very still quiet chilling voice, I said, “Don’t you ever touch me again. Get up quietly and follow me to the office. Do not say one word.” The look in my eyes and on my face must have meant something because she did exactly what I told her to do. I turned her over to the assistant principal who acquired the other half of her note without incident. I returned to my room. Everyone was diligently working, not normal behavior for teenagers when a teacher has to leave them unattended.

She came back to class after several days of in-school suspension. One of the hardest things that I ever did was to treat her as if the whole thing never happened but I did. She had good days occasionally, but mostly she was still that angry young girl. She never responded to my attempts to form some type of teacher – student relationship.

We made it through the semester and she did not return after the Christmas break. She got kicked out of chorus and they changed her schedule. She went to someone else’s math class. I would speak when I passed her in the hall but she never responded. She dropped out of school at the end of the year.

I was shopping one afternoon about a year later when I hear someone yell, Ms A. This is not uncommon so I turned to see who was calling me. I got hit with a bear hug. It was little miss angry teen! She excitedly told me that she had a job and liked it. School just wasn’t for her so she left. She said that she might try to get her GED one day. As we parted company, she turned and said, “You know you were my favorite teacher. Thanks.” She walked off and a tear rolled down my face.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

10 Odd Habits I Kept from Police Work

1. I will not sit with my back to the door of a restaurant unless I am eating with other officers. Then, I verbally tell them that they have my back.

2. I am overly cautious about anything with an account number on it. I shred it all and till it in my garden.

3. I have dead bolts in all my doors and the doors with glass can’t have a thumb lock. They must lock with a key only.

4. I don't put my seatbelt on when backing out of a parking space until after I put my car in drive.

5. I watch people’s hands. Hands can hurt you.

6. I look at tags on passing cars to see if they are expired and silently read the letters military style, alpha, baker, charlie, delta, etc.

7. I will not put anything in the trunk of a car unless I am leaving when in the view of the public.

8. I have a bad habit of driving in the left lane.

9. I rarely go the same route twice, it’s all about efficient movement based on traffic patterns.

10. I will not put any mail with checks or account numbers in our mailbox on the street. I take them to the post office and personally hand them to a postal worker.