Day 1: Over and Out

by pjmcbride

I couldn’t get to sleep last night because I was too excited, then I couldn’t get back to sleep this morning because I was too nostalgic, so here I am. After dreaming that I took the wrong bus and ended up not knowing where I was, so I became a sort of feral person, going into people’s unlocked houses and stealing their food. This is my Plan B if retirement doesn’t work out.

The best I could do for a disreputable outfit turned out to be pants with a hole in them (but I wore matching underwear so you can’t tell where it is), an old bra I’ve been meaning to throw out ever since it turned dingy gray from being washed with jeans (I thought one time couldn’t hurt), a t-shirt that says “My Work Number Is 911,” because it never will be again, a cross Rom got me that I finally got the chain untangled to, a ring Rom got me that I normally wouldn’t wear to work because it’s too big to type with comfortably, and sandals which really make me hope I get a ride home because I can’t imagine walking a mile and a half wearing these. But in another way it’s a good thing, because I have a sore toe from cutting the nail too short. I also have another ugly toenail, because the damage done in the Alien Finger incident hasn’t completely grown out, plus I dropped a jar candle on it. (A Certain Person thanks me for this pedicure update.) So far, I have not been cold enough to put Security Blanket on my feet.


I hate the Indiana Department of Revenue. Either they screw up, or I screw up, every year, but you’ll never guess who ends up paying either way. Yes, that would be the person who just can’t figure out whether Rom’s Social Security is taxable. I’m dreading the taxes for this year. I may have to seek outside help.


I came in here to find an amazing cake with red and black roses and the picture of me from last Halloween (appropriate, since I started work on Halloween), in skull t-shirt, Currant Red lipstick (artfully blotted–my mother would approve), and a headband of red and black roses that I snagged from Walgreen’s. If they’d told me when I was a kid that someday they’d be able to decorate cakes with photographs….the future is here! Also, the cake says, “QUITTER–1984-2017” on it. As I noted last time, I do kind of feel like a quitter, even though I may have had a longer sentence, I mean tenure, than anyone here. Speaking of which, my exit interview form asked why I was leaving, I think the dates 10/31/84–5/31/17 probably speak for themselves.

I also came in to find a dozen red roses, with a card with no name and the sentiment “Now you have to carry these home! Leave and don’t come back!” Sound like anyone we know? It has the smell of Nick about it. Well, except that he doesn’t smell like roses. He smells like Right Guard Fresh Blast deodorant. And when I found out the Army only requires him to bathe once a week (seven times less often than the Dispatch SOP), I sent him a case of it for his birthday. That was 3 years ago, and he only used it up recently, which should tell you something.


…a pack of Strawber-Rita, which I had been wanting to try since seeing a commercial for it JUST LAST NIGHT. I’m tempted to surreptitiously try it right now, but it’s hard to open a can surreptitiously.


“We understand you’re like the historian of this place!” Upper Management said to me many years ago, beaming and thrusting a notebook of photographs into my arms before I could step back out of reach. What I was was someone who kept a file of press clippings about all the problems we were having back when we first consolidated. And someone who abused the city’s new email system with a newsletter of said problems (the ancestor of what you’re reading now) to a select list of subscribers. Upper Management also came to me once and said, “Why don’t you send your newsletter out to everyone, so we can all read it?,” causing me to turn a whiter shade of pale. Um, because you’re usually what I’m writing about? It occurs to me now that they may have known that perfectly well, and said that in the spirit of “P.J.’s going to tell us all what’s so funny!”

So anyway (taking a deep breath of rose), here’s assorted stuff that will probably only be interesting to people who’ve worked here. And which I’ve probably addressed in previous posts. History repeats itself, or we’re doomed to repeat it, or something.

DOWNTOWN, 1986-1990 (I spent 1984-1986 in Records.)

Before we consolidated, a police sergeant was the supervisor, and there were 3 dispatchers on duty–one calltaker, one on dispatch, and one on info (or, as it was called then, Radio). One of those sergeants would let someone go home after 0300. (I spent a lot of time on 3rd shift in those days, because, as a colleague told me, “With that attitude, you belong on 3rd shift.”) Another sergeant wouldn’t let you go home, but would let one of us nap in the employee lounge for the last half of the shift. (Strangest dreams I’ve ever had.) And yet a third would take all the non-emergency lines off the hook (you do know what that means, don’t you?), so the phone wouldn’t disturb us while we ate dinner. Which was brought by an officer in those days.

In 1990, we consolidated (it was a fashionable idea back then, in the time-honored tradition of We Can, So We Should). Our new Upper Management decided we weren’t allowed to leave the building on breaks. (We actually got breaks back then–none of that “only leave the room long enough to heat food and bring it back to your console” ethos that now prevails.) I would defiantly go across the street and sit on a park bench for half an hour, staring stonily at the Civic Center. We were also told we weren’t allowed to get drunk on our own time, in case we were needed for overtime.


‘”My grandson is being taken care of by my son’s girlfriend’s grandmother, and…”

–“He was injured in a fight with his girlfriend’s other baby daddy.” You know, baby daddy wasn’t even a thing when I started. As for other baby daddy…

–“What makes it a terroristic threat, exactly?” When you find out, let me know. Because that term predates 9-11. In fact, it usually starts with, “I’m from Kentucky.”


–They kept trying to get us in uniforms, but finally gave up when they realized they would have to pay for it.

–The assigned seating in here was not originally for greater efficiency, but because the people then in charge didn’t like the way people sat next to colleagues they liked and avoided others.

–We used to be able to trade positions, so if you didn’t want to be, say, info, you could trade with someone who didn’t want to be city dispatch.

–The wastebaskets next to the consoles have been here since the beginning. They are tiny because They thought that if we didn’t have big trash cans, we wouldn’t produce a lot of trash. You see how that worked out.

–I originally asked, “Who will clean the building when we leave the Civic Center and don’t have their cleaning people?” and was told, “Well, you’ll be expected to clean up after yourselves.”

–We originally had no snack machine out here because the people who were on duty when They asked didn’t want to be tempted off their diets. I was very annoyed when I came in and found this out. Currently, the only food that can be bought on-site is M&M’s. I have sometimes subsisted on them for a whole 8 hours. They must be eaten in this order: brown-yellow-green-orange-red-blue.


And I took the piece with the fattest crust, because one doesn’t retire every day. OK, I did that before, too.


Squirming out of these sandals. I’ve forgotten how annoying leather straps against my skin can be.

–Report from the Pet Food Center of a subject rapping at all the employees and foaming at the mouth. He then left with a woman pushing a stroller.


Song overheard at Thornton’s–“Girl, give in to me completely, stop holding back our love.” Baby mama in 3..2..1…


…and because I was fishing for compliments, I told Nikki the Tragically Hip that I had this story to tell. We were talking about when you mistakenly send your text to the person you were talking about at work.

Longtime readers, if any, may remember that I occasionally refer to someone called the Nemesis. This person started in Records after I did, transferred to Dispatch shortly before I did, and was then promoted to supervisor, which I resented, even though I had no desire to become a supervisor myself. (My feelings about promotion were, to quote Joan Jett, “I wanna see you begging then say ‘Forget it’ just for spite.” Yes, Nick, I know I also quoted those words to you, but that was in a different context. I don’t even want to think about an alternate universe where you were my supervisor.)

Because the Nemesis and I started on the department at about the same time, we were always sent to training, testing, etc., together, even though we detested each other. In fairness to her, since I don’t drive, whenever there was training up at the state police post, or the police academy near Indianapolis,  she was told to give me a ride. And room with me once we got there. It was like an episode from “The Office,” except that I’m not sure which of us was Dwight. I just know that one of us was.

During our days in Records, the Nemesis wore Forever Krystle perfume, a drugstore scent based on the “Dynasty” TV character. After she was promoted, she upgraded to department store scent and wore Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door. Now I don’t dislike perfume, quite the opposite, but Red Door is a potent scent, the sort you should just apply one spritz of and never reapply until the next day. And when I roomed with the Nemesis, I found out why we could smell her coming down the hall at work. She applied Red Door like it was spray tanner, from head to toe, for complete coverage.

I offer this background to give you some idea of the context. The Nemesis was a martinet and a micro-manager, and the atmosphere in Operations was tense and uncomfortable on any shift she supervised. We were deathly silent, except for the mad clicking of keys as we messaged each other around the room.


I had a work buddy (and regular reader here!) who I will unimaginatively refer to as D.T. We survived these shifts by messaging each other in between calls–I remember one lengthy exchange of “There’s a skeeter on my peter”  “Knock it off!”–I’m guessing for no other reason than because we’d been told that YOUR MESSAGES ARE PUBLIC RECORD, SO DON’T SEND ANYTHING YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO READ IN THE NEWSPAPER. Anyway, I sent something smart about the Nemesis–I don’t remember what or why, so I don’t know why I ended my message with “The winds of change are blowing,” but D.T. answered me back with “And they smell like Red Door.” Which, of course, revealed who we’d been talking about. Which became an issue when I somehow hit Print. You have never seen a person sprint across the room to a printer faster, so I could snatch it out from under her hand–“It’s OK, I got this”–I’m surprised she didn’t make me show it to her.

I guess you had to have been there. (I’m picturing Rom shaking his head at my immaturity.) But, of course, many of my readers were there. So they will also understand the undercurrent of hilarity when we received a teletype from another agency that a truckload of Red Door had been stolen.

Someone eventually complained about her perfume, and she started wearing Elizabeth Arden’s Green Tea instead, which is a much lighter scent. I actually felt a little sad about that. I’m sometimes tempted to buy a small bottle of Red Door to sniff and relive the moment. I wish her well in her retirement, which occurred a few years ago, but hope our paths don’t cross.

OK, I finally forced a confession out of Nick. He did indeed send the flowers. Also, the instructions with them say, “Keep away from fruits and vegetables.” Why, will they fight?


“Theft suspect left outta here with a bulge in his pants like he was King Kong.”

“Caller said her brother is acting a donkey.” I guess that replaces “actin’ a fool” and “clownin’.” Some time back, we had an epidemic of “monkey ass.” “Send the cops to get his monkey ass outta here!” That, by the way, is why there was a picture of the Six Flags guy pointing to a picture of a monkey on my locker. You had to have been there, too. Well, not at 6 Flags. I saw something on the news where a ride stopped with people stuck at the top for some long period of time. I would be unable to move or speak by the time they got me down.