Monday, April 30, 2007

Just a Glance

Today, I was doing my duty between classes watching students in the hall. Two young men were headed south and a young man was headed north. The two headed south reached where the hall splits and gave each other a quick hug like girls do all the time. The kid that was northbound saw it and made a comment to himself as he passed me. It was in a nonjudgemental deadpad voice, kind of a reflection. He said, "That was kinda gay." His expression never changed and he just kept on. It was all I could do not to giggle.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The School Burglary

One night on 3rd shift, I was dispatched to an alarm call at the alternative school. I arrived about the same time as TL and we started out in opposite directions shaking doors and checking windows. Just to the north of the front ramp, TL found a broken window at ground level. A jacket and a hammer had been left on the ground and a small amount of blood was on the broken glass.

We called for additional units and asked dispatch to call the principal. The window was too small for us to enter the building without removing our gear so we needed a contact to unlock the door. My best friend, ML, and a couple of other units arrived just slightly before the principal.

The back of the property was surrounded by a 12 foot fence topped with razor wire. The contact unlocked the gate first so that two units could cover the back of the building and then came around to unlock the front for us. He then went back and waited in his car for us to clear the building.

None of us had ever been in the building so he gave us a brief overview before we entered. The three of us, TL, ML, and me, entered the front door with guns drawn. It was very dark. A large bank of windows was at the end of the hall and some muted light from the street lights filtered into the hall casting weird shadows and screwing with our night vision.

I was on the left and TL was on the right with ML in front of him. The first door was on the right. The door lead into the main office with several small offices attached. I held the hallway while the other two entered the office. While they were clearing it, I stood very still, listening, watching for anything unusual. A large clock on the wall clicked and I almost jumped out of my skin.

They came back into the hall and we approached the second door. It was on the left so ML and I went in to clear it. It was a lounge with vending machines, tables, and two small bathrooms. We checked the small area and cleared the bathrooms. I cannot express how unnerving it is to open a windowless door not knowing who or what was on the other side. We reentered the hallway and moved to the next door which was on the right. ML and TL opened it and we realized that it lead to the basement where the burglar had made entry into the building. I again held the hallway during the eternity that it took them to clear the basement.

We reached the end of the hall which was a T-shaped intersection. We could tell in the dim light that the hallway to the right was shorter and had less to check than the hallway to the left. The decision was made for me to hold the hall to the left while ML and TL checked the short hall to the right. TL took the north side and ML took the south side. TL checked the first classroom door and found it to be locked. They passed it and went to the second classroom on the north side; it was unlocked so TL entered it to clear it. As he was exiting it, ML opened a windowless door on the south side. It was a bathroom. He cleared it and reentered the hall.

I was listening to all of this. My job was to watch the east hallway to make sure that no one came in behind us from the non-cleared part of the building. My hearing was hyper alert and I was not pleased that I was not with my friend, ML.

TL checked another door on the north side and found it locked. ML checked another windowless door on his side. It was not locked. As he opened it, he screamed and disappeared into the pitch black room. TL ran across the hall shouldering into the door. I had left my post and sprinted toward ML. I reached the hallway outside just as TL went through the door. BAM, a gun discharged. Something went flying through my hair on top of my head. I went from 5’9” to about 2’6”in a blink of an eye. I hit the door and it didn’t budge. TL and ML both screamed for me not to enter the room. The bad guy had his back to the door between them and me.

Me: Shots fired. We need backup and a supervisor.

Dispatch: Shots fired?

Me: Shots fired. Send backup and a supervisor now.

As I was talking to dispatch, I was running toward the end of the hall into not cleared parts of the building looking for another way to get into the room where my partners were obviously struggling with a guy and where someone had discharged a firearm. I wanted, no, I needed to get to my partners and help! I ran into the kitchen, realized that not only had I left my post but I was running blindly into part of the school where someone else could be hiding.

I carefully backed out, returned to my post and began directing the units that were arriving to help. It had gotten quiet in the room where everyone was and no one would respond to my verbal inquiries or my radio transmissions. What was going on? Was anyone shot? How can we get to them?

I instructed the first unit to ask the contact what was in that room and was there another way into the room. It was being used as a broom closet but was actually a small room with an exterior door. He had a very large ring of keys and was sure that one of them would open the exterior door.

I put a rookie in the hallway to take over my post. I went outside and got the keys. As I was running around back, other units were arriving including my Sgt. and Lt. They joined me around back and sent two others to clear the east and south halls. Dispatch was finally able to get TL to respond to his radio and told him that there was an exterior door. They told him that we would be attempting to unlock the door to get to them.

We had no idea what kind of weapon that the guy had; who had discharged their weapon; or if anyone was hurt. It was going on 45 minutes since ML had yelled out. I crept up to the door and began trying keys. It was excruciating crouching on the steps reaching across the door trying keys. My mind was racing trying to imagine what we would find on the other side. SC was waiting behind me with a shotgun.

I finally found a key that fit. I motioned to SC that I was about to open the door. He got into entry position and waited. The door opened to a pitch black room. Both TL and ML had their backs to us and the bad guy was backed into the corner against the hallway door holding a box cutter. Both officers’ flashlights had burned out so the three of them had been frozen in place in the dark waiting for some movement to alert them of the other's location. It was going on 90 minutes then.

Once everyone could see, they started trying to talk him out of the box cutter. He refused to give it up. ML and TL refused to leave the small room until he was under arrest. We started taking stuff like mops and mop buckets out of the room to clear a take down area. This went on forever. The alarm sounded about 2:30 AM. The sun was beginning to peek up over the horizon by this time.

My LT, a two tour Vietnam vet, got impatient. He ordered TL and ML out of the room. I have never been so glad to see two guys in my life. I felt like a mom wanting to check them over to be certain that they were not hurt.

The Lt. took the shotgun from SC. He entered the room and told the bad guy that if he did not drop the box cutter; he would shoot him. He backed back out and gave SC back his shotgun saying, “That will be way too messy and they have classes in a couple of hours.” He took out his firearm and reentered the room. I am not sure what happened next. I heard the Lt tell the guy to drop the box cutter. He yelled, “Stop” and a shot rang out. The bad guy had a gunshot wound to his arm.

ML and TL ran back in and drug the guy out of the door. They cuffed the guy and drug him out to the ambulance crew that had been on standby for hours. They hauled him off to the hospital.

ML and TL then filled us in on the details. As ML entered the room, the guy was behind the door. He struck ML’s arm that held his flashlight with a tire iron. ML lost his flashlight in the process. When TL entered the room, the guy grabbed his gun which discharged. The casing from his gun was what flew through my hair. They struggled with him for a few minutes until he grabbed the box cutter off a shelf and started swinging at them. Then, it was just an extremely long standoff.

He was eventually convicted for the burglary and sent off. Months later; I received a very legal looking document that informed me that ML and I had been sued for 1.3 million dollars. He claimed that we found him walking down the road, grabbed him, and hauled his ass into the school. Once we had him in the school, we allegedly beat him and shot him. I was astonished at his pitiful story for one but also how I, not TL or the LT was named in the suit. Go figure, he used a jail house lawyer and of course, lost. Well actually. It was thrown out before it ever went near a court. I was interested to see where I was going to come up with that kind of money. Even though it was BS from the beginning, I had to list the suit on applications and such for years. That was very stressful.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Paying It Foward Before The Movie Was Made

In the early 70’s, our country went through a recession. My dad was one of the casualties. He lost his job and was unemployed for three years. My mom taught in a private school so money went from tight to non-existent. I can remember many times that my parents had a difficult time scraping $125 together to pay the mortgage on our house. We grew most of what we ate and felt very lucky when there was meat on the table. I guess that I was about 12 when he lost his job. The mantra that was most often heard around my house was, “We can’t afford it.”

I was in Girl Scouts and my troop leader decided that a trip to Savannah, GA to see Juliet Gordon Lowe’s home would be a great trip for the troop. I lived in Birmingham so it would be quite a drive. We sold cookies to defray some of the cost but still had to come up with money for the hotel room, gas, and food. When the time came to commit to the trip, I never even asked my parents. I just told the leader that we could not afford for me to go.

A few days before they were to leave, the leader came by the house to talk to my mom about the trip.

Leader: “A person has anonymously paid for ‘A’ to go to Savannah with us."

Mom: “What trip?”

The leader explained about the troop going to GA and the cost involved. They both turned and looked at me with the most puzzled expression.

Mom: “Why didn’t you tell me about this trip? Don’t you want to go?”

Me: “I would love to go but I know that we can’t afford it so I didn’t ask.”

Leader: “We want ‘A’ to go and we have a person willing to pay for her part of the trip if you will let her go.”

Mom: “I don’t know how we would pay them back.”

Leader: “’A’ would be the one paying it back

Me: “I’m not old enough to have a job. How can I pay them back?”

Leader: “You are not to pay this donor back. The only obligation attached to the money is that when you are older and have the means, you help someone else that can’t afford something important to them.”

I went on the trip and even though I was young, I have never forgotten that obligation. I have more than spent the small amount that was given to me on others. Each time that I help someone, I attach a note with the same obligation. “When you get older and can afford it, help someone else in need.”
I have tried numerous times over the last 30 some-odd years to find out who paid for my trip. My leader continues to refuse to tell me who it was. I just want to say thank you and let them know what a profound impact that obligation has had on my life. I guess that they knew that I would fulfill their terms. I hope that they have not been disappointed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Dress Code

A young lady female student wore a shirt today with two hugh icecream cones prominently displayed atop her unnaturally prolific cleavage. It read, "Lick 'em, Don't Bite Um." My question did she make it until 4th period before someone actually noticed?

A month or so ago, I stopped a student in the hall shortly after 2 PM wearing a shirt with 5" red letters reading, "What the Fuck?" Is anyone paying attention?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Breakroom at Lunch

KG: Why have so many parents been up to school today?

SM: They have been coming in droves trying to talk to counselors about their kid's next year's schedule.

KG: You would think that they would dress more appropriate. They are wearing stuff that we would send their kid to ISS for.

SM: You should have seen this one parent that came in today! The end of her nose looked like a penis. I could not look her in the face to talk to her. It made me uncomfortable!

The rest of us ....bahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Thesis

It is done! I just E-mailed it to my advisor and barring any complications, I will print it and mail it tomorrow. Can you say relief and elation? That's a big 10-4!I will soon be 10-42, signing off for the shift, on grad school.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Donuts Anyone?

After school the other day, I stopped in an old haunt, i.e. convenience store, to shoot the shit with some friends. The Krispy Kreme guy was there putting nice fresh donuts in the display case. They looked so good and seeing that mystery meat had been served in the cafeteria at school, I had resisted the temptation to eat.

Two of my friends in blue were there hanging out and they proceeded to give me a rash of shit as soon as they saw me looking at the donut case. I glanced down, realizing that I was dressed mainly in dark blue, grabbed up a donut and took a bite.

5-0: “Don’t let me ever see you with a donut again. You’re still one of us! Real police don’t touch those things!”

Me grinning: “I’m wearing blue today so I just couldn’t help myself!”

5-0: [groaning] “Oh that hurt!”

2nd 5-0: [laughing] “You HAD to go there, didn’t ya?”

The owner and clerks were laughing so hard that one of them spit coffee all over the counter.