Yesterday was my twentieth anniversary of being a cop, and while that might sound like it should be a big deal to me, nothing really changes. Tomorrow, I will drive the same car in the same uniform that I have been wearing for most of those twenty years. Since very few things in this world last this long, however, I suppose that a twentieth anniversary is still worth noting.
To be honest, I’ve done zero reflection. My shift was busy, and while I had realized that the date was approaching, I didn’t notice when it finally arrived. It can be easy to get distracted.
May 19, 2015
Getting ready for work, I noticed that a small millipede—small even by millipede standards—had found its way into my bathroom. I have a weird thing about this particular breed of invertebrates. When I find one all curled up on the floor looking dead, I try to determine if it actually is. If not, I will do my best to save it. I mean, I’m not a freak about it. If it’s a lost cause, I just toss it away, but this particular one didn’t seem too crunchy, so I picked him or her up and put the wee creature in the window box outside of my shower where it started to move a little. I lightly watered the ground and then placed a leaf over it to give it a fighting chance against hungry birds and the brutal sun. That was pretty much all of my millipede dealings for the day.
Work was a bore for a couple of hours, but then a two-year-old girl managed to go missing from her house, throwing everything into chaos. About a dozen cops and services aids responded to the scene. By the time the officers searched her home and reported that she wasn’t in it, I had called for a helicopter, a tracking dog, and a detective. We were attempting to establish a search grid and marshal additional assets when someone reported that she had found the little girl hiding under the sheets in her parents’ bed. We had already checked the bed once, but had somehow missed her. In fairness, two-year-olds are small, and this one was also quiet. She had fallen asleep.
I saw a kid make a wide, reckless turn out of a development and speed off down the roadway. Expecting him to run, I lit him up, but he pulled over immediately. When he got out of the car, I could see how nervous he was, so I told him to relax. I actually said, “I’m the coolest cop you’re ever going to meet,” and immediately realized what an embarrassing thing that was to say. All that I meant was that I wasn’t going to issue him a ticket, which I didn’t. He told me that he had just bought the car and wanted to see what it could do. I told him a few safer places where he could speed without getting a ticket. When I went to leave he shook my hand saying, “You are pretty cool. Thanks.”
I got a phone call on my cellphone from the police department’s main line, but I wasn’t able to pick up because I was on another call. Whoever it was didn’t leave a message, and the caller ID doesn’t show extensions, so there were dozens of possible candidates. Because this was the fourth time that this happened to me in the past two days, I fired off a department wide email explaining proper phone etiquette and tried not to sound irritated, even though I was. Now, everyone has been calling and hanging up as a joke.
Dispatch asked me if I wanted a unit to respond to a call of ducklings that were stuck in a storm drain. Even though baby ducks are way more appealing than millipedes, I didn’t send a cop. Firefighters take care of the “ducks stuck in storm drain” calls. They have a special net for it. I’m not making that up. Besides, we didn’t have any fires going on at that moment, so they had the time.
Someone hid a stolen car in a storage unit, but the rental company who owned it tripped the OnStar™ system, and we were able to track it down. We sat outside of the bay listening to the muffled sound of the horn going off intermittently as we waited for a search warrant—the obtaining of which is no quick process. I got bored and irritated by the horn, so secure in the knowledge that the car had been reclaimed for its rightful owners, I left.
I saw a young black man bending over by a wall with a red pen-like object in his hand. He stopped when he saw me and started walking, so I pulled up ahead and waited for him. When he got near, I waved him over to my car. He came over and handed me his ID without me asking for it. I took it and gestured for him to take off his headphones so we could talk. I asked him if he’d been tagging the wall. He said, “No, I don’t even have anything to tag with.” I hadn’t exactly accused him, but he didn’t like the suggestion. I told him to relax. I guess I say that a lot, but it often has the opposite effect. “I didn’t even get out of my car,” I said. This, by the way, is not how I’m supposed to check out with people. “You’re not in any trouble. It just looked like you were doing something suspicious, and I have to investigate.” I really did think he was writing on the wall, but I also didn’t care all that much about that particular wall. He was agitated, and I could tell that he thought that I was going to use the opportunity to do something unpleasant to him. He explained to me that he was emptying his drink and I immediately recognized the red object as the straw that was sticking out of the lid. I glanced at his out-of-state license, and handed it back without noting any of the information. I tried to engage him in small talk, but I could tell he just wanted to leave. It’s a shame that it’s this way, now. Maybe I’m just boring to teenagers. I hope that’s not it.
It was about 11:20 p.m. when I realized that it was my anniversary—forty minutes before the end of my shift. About being a cop, I’ll say this: it was a strange way to kill twenty years.