Archive for the ‘I’m Just Saying’ Category
I’ve never been fond of working traffic details—running radar, crash investigations, and the like. Patrol was better, and I suppose that’s because of the diversity of calls. One minute you’re helping an elderly person who’s locked himself out of his house, and the next you’re wading chest deep into a pile of fighting drunks.
I suppose one of the major reasons I grew to despise stopping cars due to high rates of speed, recklessness, and the general failing to obey traffic laws, was because of, well, the stupidity of some drivers.
A motor vehicle, while traveling along the roadways, is basically a great big, fat, projectile that’s just as capable of killing people as any gun. In fact, the chances of survival are perhaps a bit greater when hit by a bullet. Don’t believe it? Well, try standing in the path of a car roaring at you at 80mph and see how well you fare when it strikes you, even with a glancing blow. A bullet, on the other hand, may simply pass through a drooping love handle leaving you with nothing more than a couple of stitches.
But let’s back up a bit to stupid drivers. In fact, let’s narrow the category down to distracted-stupid drivers. I saw a headline this morning in the San Jose Mercury News that read Woman Painting Toenails Gets First Prize For Distracted Driving. To quote the writer (Gary Richards – Mr Roadshow), “I saw a woman PAINTING HER TOENAILS as she drove eastbound on the 237 freeway. She had her left foot up on the dashboard in front of the A/C vent so the cool, dry air would blow across her toes, and she was painting her toenails as she drove during the afternoon commute.”
And you thought texting while driving was bad!
Yes, the toenail painting is definitely not an activity that should take place while driving to work. But this lady is not the only driver guilty of driving while distracted. I, as well as other police officers, have a ton of “distracted driving” stories we could share, and they’re not all about cellphones. A few of the ones I’ve seen and issued a summons for, include…
- Pouring milk and cereal into a bowl and eating it while driving in heavy traffic. All while driving beside my marked police car.
- Eating a bowl of ice cream.
- Applying full face makeup with one hand while holding a large mirror in the other.
- Reading a book (the book was propped against the steering wheel).
- Two nude couples having sex in the same car, while driving at speeds over 60mph. Yes, the driver was one of the four people in the car.
- One nude man…um…enjoying his time alone.
- A man driving his expensive car while a nude woman stood on the seat with a leg on either side of him, with the top half of her body through the sunroof. She smiled and waved at us (I was training a rookie at the time. He was driving) when we switched on the blue lights.
- A man wearing a corrections uniform was driving a car late at night on a deserted stretch of interstate. His passenger was totally nude (male) and handcuffed to the car door.
- A teenager was sitting on the top of the backrest with his upper body through the open sunroof. He was using his feet to drive while a buddy operated the gas and brake from the passenger side. There were four other teens in the backseat, along with a cooler full of cheap beer.
- A teen driver passed by me doing a little over 100mph. On each of the passenger window sills (windows down) sat a teen (boys and girls) with their bare rear ends hanging outside for all the world to see.
- A car zipped by me traveling well above the posted speed limit. What really caught my eye was the large German Shepherd behind the wheel. When I stopped the car I was somewhat relieved to see a very small human woman situated behind and beneath her “lap dog.”
Finally, there was the nude couple having sex in the rear area of an SUV, with back door in the up position. By the way, the description of the back door in the up position fits both the vehicle and one of the parties engaged in the public sexual activity. It was not a pretty sight.
How about you? What’s your worst stupid driver story?
Cecil spends most of his time thinking about that day, wondering what he and Wilbur could’ve done differently. He doesn’t remember pulling the trigger. Nor does he understand why time seemed to slow down when the bullets started flying. He can’t sleep and sometimes he cries for no reason. He’s losing weight—no appetite—and he doesn’t enjoy spending time with his family. Actually, he doesn’t care all that much about seeing them or knowing what they’re doing. His headaches grow more intense with each day that passes.
At first, he thought about the dead guy all day every day. Now, the dead guy lives inside his head, clawing at the inside of his skull. He wants out but Cecil doesn’t know how to help him.
If Cecil closes his eyes he smells the dead guy’s sweat and blood. And the guilt…the guilt is eating at Cecil’s nerves, one at a time. Plucking them like banjo strings. Why? After all, the kid fired his gun first. But the worst thing is that his fellow officers are avoiding him, talking about him behind his back. And he sees the way the brass looks at him. He’s expecting to be fired at any time. And there’s the possibility of a criminal trial. They say the shoot was justified, but now Cecil’s not so sure. In fact, he’s not sure about anything. Well, except that he’d like to be dead.
It’s been well over two months since Cecil and Wilbur were in the shootout with the kid who robbed the liquor store over on 37th Street, and Cecil’s not handling the situation very well. Wilbur, on the other hand, seems to be coping quite nicely. So he goes to visit Cecil, hoping to cheer him up.
The two veteran cops sit at Cecil’s chipped Formica-topped kitchen table, the one with the rusted chrome legs. Cecil absent-mindedly uses a spoon to swirl his coffee around in an over-sized ceramic mug. He looks like hell—bloodshot eyes, cheeks sagging, and the corners of his mouth fixed in an upside-down smile. His hair even looks dull, and grayer by two shades.
“How do you do it, Wilbur? Doesn’t it bother you?” said Cecil, without making eye contact.
Wilbur leaned back, balancing his chair on its two rear legs. “Sure, it does. It’s definitely not a good feeling knowing we killed someone. But, honestly, I’m just happier’n a pig in new mud that I’m alive. And I’m glad that I practiced shooting all those years. We could shoot and he couldn’t. It is what it is and I’d do it again tomorrow if I had to.”
Cecil sighed and gave his now cold coffee a fresh stir. A soft tinkling sound came from the mug as the spoon brushed against the ceramic. “Something must be wrong with me, then. “Cause I’m wishing it’d been me instead of him.”
“You can’t think like that, partner. We had a job to do and we did it. Nothing more, nothing less. One less worthless mouth to feed in prison, you ask me.”
Cecil looked up—tears streaming down his face. He felt like he was going to vomit so he covered his mouth with one hand, the one he’d been using to stir the coffee. The other hand resting in his lap, clutching his service weapon. His index finger toying with the trigger, tracing its curved outline. Sweat had begun to form at his hairline. In his mind there was no other way…
Like Cecil and Wilbur, no two officers experience identical post-shooting reactions. But what are some of the common responses? Well, lets start with the shooting itself. During the gunfire many officers experience sensory distortions, such as slow- or fast-motion, and muted or distorted sounds.
After the shooting has occurred, many officers, like Cecil, experience trouble sleeping, nightmares, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, crying spells, loss of appetite, nausea, sadness, fear, feelings of worthlessness, and reliving the incident on a non-stop loop. It’s also possible that they cannot remember certain parts of the incident. Some officers have actually fired at a suspect and never realized they’d pulled the trigger until their weapons were checked by authorities (all weapons and rounds should be checked and accounted for following any officer-involved shooting).
It is extremely important for police agencies to train their officers about what to expect during and after a shooting. Teaching survival is important, but good mental health is equally important.
Finally, it’s sometimes a good idea to employ a third-party counselor to assist with the debriefing sessions, because officers may feel that a department counselor would not be impartial and side with the agency in court or during a departmental disciplinary hearing.
BUT…no matter what, officers should ALWAYS seek some sort of counseling following a shooting event. Sure, you may feel fine today, but you never know when the dead guy may show up for a visit.
Please, don’t be a “Cecil.”