The Days of Wine and Rodents

by pjmcbride

T-shirt I saw: “More People Have Read This T-Shirt Than Have Read Your Blog.” It’s funny because it’s true. It is, you know. True, I mean.

This notwithstanding, a Certain Person was begging me to post again, so here I am.

The Beast is back (without his talking helicopter, alas), and was prowling about in the hope of finding me and giving me a ride to work in the rain, because that’s just how dutiful and devoted he is. Which is more than I deserve, because the last time he  was caught in a downpour and got drenched, I laughed.

Speaking of stuff that gets on officers, last week I sent some out to confront a bleach-throwing suspect. Watch out! Your uniforms are in danger!

This Just In: A man was pulled over for loud music, and told the officer, “Dude, lighten up! It’s Father’s Day!” This information was obtained from Katherine Claire. (HA! This world-leader gig is a cinch. People keep coming to me and  confessing stuff about themselves and others!)

Went deodorant-shopping the other day (YES, you need to know), and was reminded of the Tragically-Hip One and her husband, who shall henceforth be known as Denali. I’m Secret Powder-Fresh myself (and married to Old Spice Original–Rom is more of a traditionalist than you’d think by looking at him). Hey, I remember when it was introduced in the late 50’s and called Ice Blue Secret, which is why the packaging is blue to this day!

Speaking of useless and pointless knowledge…

on to our actual subject matter. I was regaling the aforementioned K.C. with some story about the old days at Dispatch, and I thought, maybe I should go into more detail on that topic. (“Sure!” you all are saying. “Because there’s nothing that’s more appreciated than a long and rambling story full of detailed but irrelevant information!”  SHUT UP, all of you, and no army-crawling toward the door.)

When we were part of the Police Department, there was 1 calltaker, 1 dispatcher, and 1 info operator on duty, plus a supervisor, who was usually a police officer. These officers were a mixed lot. Some were sullen at not getting to do “real” police work. Others established exciting policies like “Turn off the non-emergency phone lines while we’re eating dinner” and “After 3AM if we’re not busy, one of you gets to go home.” (Seriously! We used to take turns.) We were solemnly told that any officer was the superior in rank of any civilian employee, but were also told, with equal solemnity, that THE DISPATCHER SPEAKS WITH THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHIEF OF POLICE, to the extent that hearing me (or, presumably, any of us) say on the air, “Are you refusing this run?” would send a chill up the officer’s spine and cause stammering. (Speaking of which, an officer once told me, “We can always tell when we’re making you mad. Your voice gets lower and lower.”) (Come to think of it, this doublethink is similar to nowadays, when They tell us both, “All the information in the system is private, so watch out who you release it to,” and “All the information in the system is public, so watch what you say.” Well, which is it? Either one, as long as it gets us in trouble?)

This, of course, was police dispatch. Fire dispatch was a whole other world, and county dispatch was a couple deputies sitting in a dark room, who also dispatched county fire. When the word came down that the dispatch departments were combining (they’d talked about it for so many years that we assumed it would never actually happen), everyone was upset. Department heads rolled their eyes and talked about Fear of Change. The night before we made the move, when I took my break, I got the key to the Admin Building (I was on 3rd shift at the time), and went up to the third floor alone. I wandered among the portraits of former Evansville mayors, which I’d never paid attention to before, and finally settled down in the break room with some horrible vending-machine food item. You don’t often get the chance to experience the end of an era with full knowledge that that’s what it is.

OH–I almost forgot to explain the title of this post (cue frantic upward-scrolling, since everyone’s forgotten  it by now): When we were downtown, there was a dispatcher from another agency we would hear on Point-2-Point. This person was from some agency far away–I don’t know if we ever knew where. I don’t even know if the person was male or female, but they had a weird scratchy,  gravelly voice. “Sounds like a rodent,’ Laurie K. would say. The Rodent became an almost-comforting part of our night lives–if we heard that voice scratching in the background (their jurisdiction was too far away for them to be actually talking to us), all was well with the world. And the wine, well…there was a detective, long gone now, who made wine every year, and we would each get a tiny cup. A now-retired officer and good friend of mine (and SG reader–he was the one who suggested I start a blog!) was once scandalized to see me “drinking on the job,” and comforted himself with the knowledge that it couldn’t really be alcohol, because, y’know, I’m much too professional for that. Sorry to disappoint you, but…Come to think of it, I may be confusing that incident with another when I was on 2nd shift, when we went to the Freedom Festival Bierstube after work and then came back with our beer to bother 3rd shift while they were working. Seems like I drank a lot in those days, but I didn’t really.

In our next installment (if I’m up to it)….The Rocky Start of Central Dispatch. “Crisis in Progress” Is Born As a Blow Against the Empire! Everyone Is In Trouble All the Time!

…Just took a call of “My boyfriend won’t give me our baby. He was just born.” Happy Father’s Day.

OK, I thought that call was a fitting end, but I just beat it: “My daughter is down at the bus terminal prostituting herself. She’s in a wheelchair and has only one leg.” I quit.