Hitting the jackpot on September 11

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

One of the fun parts of this job is the reactions that kids give when they see you walking around in uniform or sitting in the police car. Whenever I see a child waving at me, I make sure to wave back. The smile on their face and the wave back is always worth it.

On September 11, I was sitting in my car in a parking lot when a family walked by. The mother and father told their 5 year old son to wave at me, which he did. I said hi back at the same time I put my emergency lights on for him. He was surprised to see the lights come on and had the “wow” look on his face.

I got out of the car and said, “Do you want to sit in the police car?”

The boy’s face lit up as he turned toward his parents. His mom and dad told him to go ahead. He started to climb into the car when he spotted a penny that was near the seat. He grabbed the penny and tried to give it to me. I waved my hand at him as I said, “Keep it. It’s yours.”

With a surprised look he shoved the penny into his shorts pocket as fast as he could. He then sat down in the driver seat with a satisfied look on his face as I closed the door for him.

His mother took out her phone and told him to smile so she could take a picture. After the photo was taken I opened the door so he could get out. As he started to get out of the car I pointed to the area on the door where I put spare change as I said, “What’s in there?”

The little boy peeked at the door handle and saw nickels, dimes and a quarter. He looked at me as I said, “Go ahead. You can have them.”

His eyes got huge and then looked back at the coins because he had just hit the lottery. His huge jackpot eyes then looked back at me to be sure.

“Go ahead.”

He grabbed at the change like his hands were miniature Pac Mans gobbling up everything he could find. He had the biggest smile as he put the change into his pockets as deep as he could to make sure none would come out. His parents then told him, “What do you say?”

With a quick turn of the head he said, “Thank you.”

Before the boy left, I said, “Keep the coins so you will always remember that today was September 11th.”

 

My Car Failed Me

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We all have a certain patrol car that we like to drive. Ask any patrol cop and they’ll tell you their favorite car number.

Mine is 779.

I’ve been driving unit 779 so long the seat knows when Daddy’s home. On my work days it seems like I spend more time in that car than in my own house.

Through all the good and bad times, 779 has never let me down. That is until this past Wednesday night.

It failed me.
It stranded me.

It made me ask a few questions like:

“What did I do to you?”
“Haven’t I treated you well?”
“Don’t I get you washed?”
“Don’t I go over speed bumps slowly?”

It’s not like I treat the car like a dirty girlfriend.

The other night at about 2:30AM I decided to write some parking tickets before EOW (End of Watch). When I left the station I noticed the alternator light was on. No big deal. I was going to write the tickets and then put the car out of service when I got back.

As I drove to my target location I noticed that my lap top wasn’t charging even though it was on the docking station. Then the unit radio started turning on and off.

What could happen next?

I drove into an alley and saw about fifteen cars parked on both sides. Add the trash dumpsters to that equation and a fire truck would have a hard time negotiating the alley.

I parked my car and left the engine and head lights on like I always do.

I started to fill out a ticket and noticed the engine was making an unusual noise. Not to worry, the shift was almost over.

After I wrote the second ticket I turned back to the car and saw the head lights had shut off. Not a good sign.

The engine didn’t sound so good now. Maybe I should’ve just stayed in the traffic office for the last thirty minutes of my shift.

I got into the car and the unit radio had shut off. I might have a problem now.

There was no way I could drive the car in like this. I decided to turn the car off for a minute or two just to see if that would help.

I wrote the third ticket and then went back to the car to start it back up. I turned the ignition and all I heard was clicking.

It was almost as if an unseen force was trying to prevent me from writing parking tickets that night.

I then had to make the dreadful radio transmission for a tow truck.

“784, my car just died and I need a 926.”
“10-4, 784,” replied the dispatcher

A patrol sergeant got on the radio and said, “2S1, send a unit to stand by with 784 until the 926 arrives.” I appreciated that because you never know in this neighborhood.

After a few minutes I decided to try and start the car again. I wasn’t willing to accept defeat. Plus, I didn’t want to wait for the tow truck.

This car had never let me down so why start now.

I sat in the car and turned the key again as I said, “Come on.” With a lot of hesitation, the engine started. It was alive, but in critical condition.

I turned the lights on and saw they were dim. Probably as dim as my hopes of making it back to the station. The unit radio was off, but I didn’t need it now. I needed the car to move.

The car was on emergency power mode and I was going to have to baby it on the way in.

See, 779 would never fail me.

“784, my car is possessed. It just started up again. You can cancel the 926. I’m going to limp the car back to the station.”

With a feeling of relief I started driving westbound through the alley. I started to turn onto the street when the dashboard lights went out. The car died and it silently rolled to a stop. It just shut off.

The car threw in the towel.
It raised the white flag of surrender.
It rolled over and played dead.

Now I was blocking an entire street and the alley.

With a feeling of defeat I keyed my pac set and said, “784, start the tow truck again.”

I put the car in neutral and pushed it back a little so it wouldn’t block the street. Why couldn’t I get stranded in the parking lot of a 24 hour Starbucks instead?

My car had failed me, but at least it wasn’t 100 degrees in the summer time.

The tow truck arrived and 779 was loaded up. I got a ride from another officer and my car was then sent to “time out” to be fixed on another day.

The next day the car was back and the alternator was fixed. I had full power and I was back in business.

Then……..

The transmission failed me.

Maybe unit 779 will have a better week when I come back from my days off. If not, unit 780 might be my new number one. Just kidding. 779 is my car. At 48,000 miles, It was just having a midlife crisis.

The Police Car

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The Police Car

The car is your traveling office. It’s a vehicle that is handed off from shift to shift with little or no rest, similar to the person who drives it. It’s worn and stained seats reflect what the driver has seen and been through with little or no support when they need it most.

The car is your shelter from the heat, rain, wind, cold and everything else mother nature wants to throw at you. The car can also be your happy place. The one place you can sit and just be alone. The car is your escape. The one place where no one can bother you for a needed break until the radio disrupts the silence.

The car is a place where life long bonds are formed with the partner who shares it with you.

It’s your way of escape from the last call, the last idiot, the last crash, the last tragedy or the last dead body.

The car is a friend that won’t betray you. It takes you to danger and it rescues you from it.

The police car is where you have to settle disputes over the phone between your kids or your spouse while you’re at work.

It is a symbol of trust and fear. Trust by those who need us. Fear by those who are doing something wrong. The car restores order at the sight of it as it rolls in hot to chaos. The car can save you, but it can kill you if you don’t respect its speed.

The black and white transports you to the dark side of humanity where the lowest scum live and prey. It takes you to the saddest stories and the worst things in the world. It takes you to places a normal person can’t imagine with the highest high and to the lowest of lows.

It’s part of an emotional roller coaster with twist and turns that very few will ever know because they are not part of this world.

The police car is the one symbol that brings smiles to the faces of children as we drive by. It doesn’t matter if the child is rich or poor, speaks English or not. They all joyfully yell out “Police” when they see it.

And finally and most importantly………..

The police car is driven by the Good Guys