Grateful

Posted: May 4, 2010 in Life
Tags: ,

When you’re doing something you’re not supposed to be doing, they’re the last people you want to see.

When you’re in trouble and afraid for your life, they’re the first people you want to see.

Twice in my childhood I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to, and got caught.  Both on the same day.  The day that  my friend and I – both around twelve years old – had decided to take a long hike.  

On that sunny warm day, the first thing we did was walk down the railroad tracks, as far as we could go.  Then we got off of the tracks and started walking down the road when we felt the dust of the road reach up and wrap around us as a police car drove past us and parked in front of us.  The cop got out and asked us to step into his parlour. 

My buddy and I looked at each other.   We complied.

“Do you boys know why I stopped you?”

Neither of us said anything.  We just looked at him.

“Well you’re not supposed to be on those train tracks.”

We just looked at him.  As adolescents do.

He wasn’t getting through to us.   He knew it.

“You know you broke the law here, right?”

I spoke up.  “No, I didn’t know that.”

“Did you see the sign that said ‘no trespassing’?”

Mike, my buddy, said “no”.

“Well it’s there.  And it’s there for a reason.  You can get killed by walking on the tracks.”

Mike said “no way.  We would have heard the train coming.”

The cop looked at him.  “That’s what everyone says, son.  And yet every year, lots of people get killed on train tracks.”

He could tell we weren’t buying it.

“There’s another reason you’re not allowed on the tracks.     There’s lots of vandalism on the train cars.”

We sat there, as the warm sunlight burned the backs of our necks.

“In fact,” he continued.  “I found some damage to one of the train cars just a while ago.  Did you do that?   Did you break anything?  Steal anything?  Should I check your pockets?”

He could tell looking at us we weren’t the type.  Still, he got our attention with that one.  Ever see innocent youngsters look guilty for no reason?  That was us.  We were in trouble.  We couldn’t prove we hadn’t done anything wrong.  But his gruff voice told us he thought we were criminals.

“Honest!  We didn’t do anything officer!”

He stared at us sternly.  “Why should I believe you?”

Now we were silent.  But the tension was terrific.

“You see why it’s a bad idea to go on the train tracks?”

“Yessir!”

“Are you going to go there ever again?”

Mike and I both shook our heads.

“What?”

“No sir!”

“Good.  Now get out of the car and stay from the tracks.  You hear me?”

“Yes sir!”

And that was that.

Well, except that the next thing we did was hitchhike down the provincial highway.

This time another cop picked us up.

Once again, Mike and I were invited for a little talk.   After we were done, he advised us to hop the fence at the side of the busy highway, which we did.

At that point, we cut our adventure short.

There have been at least two times when I’ve called the police because I was sure my family and I were in physical danger from The Beast.  Both times, officers showed up, not having any idea of what they were getting into, but coming anyway.   Both times they manage to defuse my angry drunk father.

Some may stop and count and think “well that makes you even, right?  Getting picked up twice, and twice calling them for help”

Not quite.  That makes four times that I owe them.  Every interaction with them was about keeping me safe.

I’m amazed at the work they do.  I have cop friends who’ve related some pretty hairy stories.   Though I once considered going into police work, I’m grateful now that I didn’t.   My friends talk about only having to deal so much with the criminals and dregs in our society.  Doesn’t sound like much of a picnic to me.    And instead of society thanking them for the dangerous work they do, cops find themselves on the business end of uninformed opinion instead.  It’s got to be frustrating, being told by armchair critics about how they should take down a criminal.  (Gently and with many apologies about hurt feelings, of course)

Check out the blog at the right side in my blogroll entitled “The Boogie Man Is My Friend” for yet more funny and hairy stories from a police woman.

Comments
  1. contoveros says:

    Walking on the railroad tracks reminded me of “Stand By Me,” the movie based on the short story by Stephen King. You’re lucky you didn’t find a dead body.

    Oh, you’re saving that for your next post? The one where you and the cops rescue the damsel in distress, but could not help the bad guy who hitchhiked with a Canadien serial killer?

    Twelve years old is a good time to learn a lesson for life. Thanks for sharing.

    michael j

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  2. Hear hear. We have had three suicide-by-cops in the past six months. Once ounce of thoughts would indicate that’s what they were. The last time, a naked man in a park threatened to kill two women, then came at the cop with a knife when he approached. He got deaded. The hue and cry was all about excessive force. It makes me angry.

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    • One of my best friends took police training (he ultimately didn’t make the cut because of his poor eyesight). He told me about the various steps and reasons for the way police have to approach dangerous people. Without that knowledge I might have ended up being one of those armchair quarterbacks, second-guessing some of their methods.

      One thing I learned: when an officer pulls his or her gun, the intent is never to maim or disable. It’s to kill. It has to be, in those situations. Disabling is a fantasy.

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  3. As a teen potential delinquent full of rebellious thoughts about all authority, I had a disdain for the cops.

    As an adult, when I became director of a mental health program, I became close friends with the local chief of police. He and his professionally trained officers helped us therapists save many people from suicide and potential homicides and abuse. Through knowing Bob and his officers, I gained a great deal of respect for the police. They have a tough job and do take a lot of crap.

    Having said that, I still get nervous when I suddenly see a police car in my rear view mirror…even when I have my speed control set within the speed limit.

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    • I get nervous too. But heck, when I’ve been speeding and I know it, I’ll say as much.

      Once I got pulled over on suspicion of something – I have no idea to this day what it was. All I know is, the questions were alarming: do you have any guns in the car? Any drugs?

      The police were professional and polite but to the point. They took their own safety into account as well as my own and treated me with courtesy. After they had satisfied myself that I wasn’t a threat, I asked for their names and sent their boss a note of appreciation.

      It really is a thankless job, for the most part.

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  4. suzrocks says:

    Well, I think that the type of cop you are dealing with depends on your location. Here, cops are bullies… they are usually more interested in pushing their weight around than they are actually helping people. They profile, judge, and even set people up if they don’t like them. Small town politics…etc… they are above the law here. It’s just a real mess. I’ve had some bad experiences. Never any good stories like yours, I’m afraid. You’re in a different world.

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  5. suzrocks says:

    I once caught a cop cheating on his woman, so he set me up with drugs and busted me… he came to my house with a warrant, but never stepped foot inside… instead, when I stepped out he beat me on the pavement and shoved me in the back of the car basically because I was a threat to him/his lifestyle. In the back of the car, he threw the drugs in my lap (I was handcuffed) and said that was what he found in my house because I needed to learn not to F with him. I went to jail…etc… $5,000 I got out of it… but I couldn’t afford to go any further that clearing my name… it would’ve cost me $3000 more to try to take him down and I just didn’t have it. I was young and it took my life savings just to get myself out of trouble. He’s still a cop today. There’s a whole lot more to this story, but this is the gist of it.

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    • Wow. You’re fortunate to have come out of that relatively intact. I suppose he had a vested interest in not pushing too much further either though. Even the accusation that he was cheating might have done him in good.

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  6. MousE says:

    We used to walk the tracks all the time too as kids, me and my brother. Never got stopped by a cop tho. In fact, I only remember the police coming to the house once when my dad, drunk as a skunk, was setting off fireworks in the back yard on the 4th of July.

    OoO the memories. Thanks for this. You grew up with the Beast, too, I see. Those are memories I can do without. But I have good ones, too, like the train tracks and bike adventures.

    Thanks for this blog. Beautifully written I must say.

    Cheers!

    Like

    • Thanks MousE! Great to see you here.

      Yes, I have a lot of memories about The Beast. Even wrote a blog about it, but decided to keep it private for now. Probably a little too stark and raw for public consumption.

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      • MousE says:

        Thank you for the welcome!

        I know exactly what you mean.

        I have a fondness for Pat Conroy’s descriptions of this particular… Beast. The Great Santini was difficult to watch, for me.

        Anyway, I look forward to reading more of your writing!

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        • And now that you’ve referenced “The Great Santini” I’m going to put it on my list of films to see. Thank you! I don’t know what it is, but characters like that are intriguing. Probably why I was so engrossed in “The Sopranos”.

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