Thursday, November 23, 2006

Officer Wooley

Today I felt terrible what with coughing and wheezing, sneezing and blowing my nose, arrggghhh. I did not feel up to going to my wife's mothers for thanksgiving. Besides, I don't feel welcome there any longer.
I just stayed home in my easy chair after taking some cough medicine and a hand full of tissues. Above our television set is a family portrait of me, the wife and our toddler son. The photo was taken at the Police Department for they would do family portraits for us. The wife and I are both in uniform while our son is in a striped jumper. Flipping the channels on the set it was found not to be that much worth watching.

Looking at the picture brought back memories to me from when I first was hired at the P.D. back then. The P.A.T test and doing the weapons qualifying night and day where always tense for me. Being on the firing range was fun though even under the pressure of combat loading under timed target practice. My master eye is my left so I had to shoot left handed even though I'm right handed. Weapons always eject to the right so spent cartridges and shells would whiz past my face sometimes hot particles would come from the breech and sting me. The smell of all the burnt powder in the air and the sound over the loud speaker of directions would get your adrenaline up fast.

Doing the obstacle course was what I dreaded, especially the running part. Running the track and feeling like my legs were heavy as lead at the end of it.
On the obstacle you had to go through doors, crawl through pipes, jump a creek, climb a wall and several other things too. All at a timed run and if you did not make it you had just another chance to do it. This was not the sort of thing you wanted to do in shorts so I wore sweats even when it was hot. After doing the track run I remember almost puking and my lungs where screaming and burning. The thing to do though was to keep walking while trying to stand upright. Stopping and bending over trying to catch your breath is the wrong thing to do.

I thought about all of those things and more. Such as the first day I was issued my badge, uniform and gear. Driving home I kept looking at my badge and thinking: "I can't believe it. Me with a badge. I really have a uniform and a badge!"

What a thrill it was to me to be a part of the department. It took awhile for things to sink in to. The first time I assembled my uniform and tried it on I stood in front of the mirror taking it all in. I looked pretty dog gone good if I do say so myself. My hair was now short and I had trimmed down a few pounds. You have to get used to some things though like going to the rest room. All this stuff you have to take off then put back on can be a hassle. You have one belt and then a utility belt over that with all those keepers. Plus, there is your walkie and the shoulder mike that has to be within reach. At the time we still had those heavy Motorola radios that only had two channels with a toggle switch. Talk about bulky. And, you wanted to make sure to check your radio so as not to lay it somewhere to have an open mike. This was true in your vehicle as well. If your button was pushed and you did not know it, well, everyone else did. If that happened then communications would keep saying to check your radios until whomever it was cleared the channel. If you didn't clear the channel then they would begin going down the roll call list calling our numbers. The person who did not answer was the culprit. I was H126 which was for Humane Officers. We were dog watch which is not to be confused with Dog watch which was the 3rd shift officers. Confused?
Humane Officers search the streets and answer calls that have anything to do with animals mainly but we also look for any human illegal activities or traffic situations. A Dog watch is third shift Officers who, when all is quiet, see nothing but dogs roaming the streets.

One time in the beginning while on the way to a call I came to one of the license check points. I got out my wallet like I'd always done in the past to show the officer who I knew now. I pulled up and they waved me on through and we hollered back at each other something but I don't remember. I do remember thinking " Damn! I'm one of them now what was I thinking?" as I laughed to myself. I can just go right on through it. That's a pretty damned cool thing for a rookie.

Another time a women hit me head on at an intersection. I saw it coming and tried to get out of her way by moving as far to the right as I could. She kept on coming and never tried to stop at all, accelerating, slamming me hard. It happened all in slow motion like in the movies and I could feel blood rushing to my nose. I also remember thinking to myself as the impact threw me to the right in my seat and the rearview mirror headed right for my face "This is going to hurt and when is the shoulderbelt going to react." Luckily the belt caught me only inches from the windshield and jerked me back hard into the seat. I was dazed and confused and could feel warm wetness on me. My mind just knew I was bleeding profusely from somewhere. It turned out to be hot coffee from my mug which had been thrown from its holder and splashed all over.

A man came running up to ask if I was alright and all I could do was stare at him in a fog. He ran back over to the women's car and from where I was sitting could see her engine had pushed up her dash which had slammed her in the face. She was covered in blood and part of the engine was in the car. She had not been wearing her seatbelt. The man came back over to me and said the women wanted me to call her husband. Hell! I didn't even know where I was at the moment myself. Shaking off some of the cobwebs I got on my radio and called in that I was involved in a head on 10-50 at Providence and Washington Streets. "I need an ambulance code three communications." Code three is a hurry the hell up I have injuries call. Man there were sirens and vehicles coming from all over to my location fast. My wife was on Duty in another district and came, I'm sure, well over the limit.

I had to be extracted from the passenger side. I walked with much help to my wife's patrol car and she took me to the hospital. My left shoulder was hurting pretty bad and my shoulder mike had left it's imprint in my shoulder. Nothing showed up on any X-Rays but the Doctor said that in the future it might show up in the form of arthritis. The shoulder belt had been across the mike and dug it into me. I was given some med's to take for pain and could not drive or work the streets. The things made me act a bit goofy so I did desk duty entering info into the system. Not until I was home did we discover that my lap belt had cut like a knife into my leather walkie case saving me from what would have been a nasty gash. My shoulder aches now like someone is twisting the bones from time to time. To much lifting or pulling will really aggravate it. Raking leaves, for instance, brings on a dull throbbing pain. Sometimes I have my son pull my arm forward as hard as he can while pushing on my shoulder. It feels like something is out of adjustment at times and it seems to help ease the ache. Another thing is putting my hands behind my back, like being cuffed and relaxing, my shoulder will kind of drop in a way as if my socket is damaged. It's weird and hard to explain it. To much lifting is not something I can do anymore. People don't seem to understand that.
I get it in my neck as well but not like my shoulder.

Anyhow, that's one of the things I thought about this thanksgiving. I'm thankful I wasn't killed that day and have been lucky enough to see my son growing up.

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