May 6th, 2006

scout

The Ride-Along

There are some people who just don't understand how grueling police work can be.  They don't understand the realities of the work schedule my wife used to keep, and they don't understand the risks some officers take.  And they don't understand that some officers, in some districts, can work a shift going from call to call non-stop and still have 53 (no exaggeration) calls in the queue that are still awaiting response.  Some people don't understand this.

Some of the people who don't have a clue are themselves police officers.  Case in point: my ride-along today.  I showed up for my ride-along on time and had to wait almost an hour to go because of paperwork snafus on the part of the police department.  I was assigned to Apathetic Cop, who was probably disgrunted as far as I could tell, but most of the ride acted more apathetic.  I don't think he was happy to have me on his shift, but he faked it well for a while.  After discussions about his work history and my wife's, I concluded that the two of them were actually very similar, and Apathetic Cop was probably equally in need of some time off... Fortunately for him, he was getting his time off on the job.  He was assigned to the safest area of the district, which is probably one of the safest areas of the country.  The richest of the rich live there, and it's mansions on former farmland as far as you can drive.  For the first 3 1/2 hours, there were NO calls on his radio.  None!  He meandered around this boring residential area, so remote there weren't even any license plates or seatbelts to check.  It was dead.

Our first call finally came in... a concerned citizen noticed that someone had left their dog in the car with no ventillation.  Apathetic Cop finally takes this call, and then decides this would be a good time to go stop at a park rest area so we can use the facilities rather than go directly to the scene of the ONE DAMN CALL we've received all shift.  He says it'll probably be gone by the time we get there anyway.  Whatever.  The restroom REEKS!, but I need to go.  While in there, I hear a buzz, which I fortunately ignored until my pants were up, or I would have run screaming out of there with my pants around my ankles.  The place was INFESTED with GIGANTIC mosquitoes.  I swear, they were as big as my hand, and they were EVERYWHERE!  I was not a happy camper.  Still, seeing as my anatomy and Apathetic Cop's were different, I was amazed I beat him out of the facilities and he was taking his sweet time back to the car.  When we get back in, there is an update on the dog.  The concerned citizen says the dog has stopped barking and has fallen over i.e. "collapsed."  Apathetic Cop takes his time.  When we arrive on the scene, he meanders around the parking lot and I am the one that needs to point out the vehicle.  "Oh", he casually mentions as he slowly turns the car around.  Long story short, the dog is fine, and the owner gets off with a warning.  But while we exit the parking lot, I see THREE motorists notice the cop car and buckle up, in plain view.  Apathetic Cop notices too, but (as he explained to me earlier) he's not really big on doing traffic stops.

We go another hour without a call and finally get a residential alarm call.  He takes his sweet time getting there.  By the time we arrive, another cop has already searched the residence, so my cop doesn't have to do any work.  We are immediately called on another priority call for a mentally disturbed person.  We go lights and sirens as fast as he can through this residential area... and that is only because Concerned Cop from the alarm call, has done this ahead of him, and he would look bad if he doesn't follow.  We are flying over mini hills in the road, when he slams the brakes for the deer that jumped out to cross in front of us.  Then he continues on.  The mentally disturbed person turns out to live at the residence, and is just drunk, so the night has been uneventful.  Another hour of no calls, and several hints from Apathetic Cop that he's sorry it's so slow but I can leave whenever I want.  But I say I'm good for now.  As we're wandering aimlessly around, a hitchhiker tries to stop us for a ride... Apathetic Cop ignores him.  Not my business, so I don't say anything for a few minutes.  Then I say... "So, is hitchhiking legal in Maryland?"  He starts to mumble under his breath.  Well, um, hmm, I don't kn.. Umm, well, actually, hmm, I think there might be some sort of statute or some..mmm yeah, probably.  Then he says "But I usually wouldn't cite those, we hardly ever see them around here."  And I'm thinking, you moron, we just passed one.  I didn't say it, but I think he could read my mind, because he drove us back to the station.  He says he needs to change, so I can wait or I can end the ride-along now if I'd like.  And I could've been as big of a prick as he was, knowing that he hadn't done anything except 3 stupid calls in 6 hours and nothing spilled on his clothes.  I could have said I'd be happy to wait.  But I had enough, too.  So, he dropped me off at the station and I went home.  And I just shook my head about how some people don't know how easy they have it.

And then I remembered yeah, some people really don't know.  Like how at work, some of the older producers who have only worked in industrials and such, go on and on about how complicated their shoots are and say stuff like, "Sometimes it gets really tough, like when we have 2 cameras, and one of the cameras move."  Yeah, tough like that.  I swear, I've met some really smart people from this part of the country, but the ones that were really smart were smart enough that I met them back in California.  It's a slow universe here.  S-l-o-www!!!!!!!
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