I had a DUI last night.
The call was an accident. When I arrived, there was a Grand Prix wrapped around a tree. In fact, the passenger door was smashed into the cab nearly to the midline of the car. There was blood all over the passenger door, dotted by the shimmer of broken glass and smashed plastic.
The occupants were gone. Usually, that means one of a couple of things. Possibly the driver had no license, either suspended or revoked. The driver was on the run from a warrant. Or the driver was driving under the influence. This accident scene – which ran probably the better part of a football field length from beginning to end – felt like a DUI.
As I’m working it, I get a call that the driver and passenger are at a local hospital. I go and the passenger, with a massive head wound, is out cold with the doctors. But the driver is hysterical, on the phone with her mother, and knocking me over with beer breath from probably twenty feet away.
So I got the DUI handled and no one died and everything was fine. Yes, she decided to tussle when she realized she was going to jail (fights are so much easier when your opponent is drunk and having a hard time standing). Yes, she was as profane toward me as anyone I’ve ever dealt with. Yes, she told me that the Constitution said I couldn’t talk to her until she talked to her parents (she’s 18-years old). And yes, she told me that the Constitution said “you gotta let me use my cell phone, bitch,” (I was so tempted to find the Constitution on-line and have her find the phrase ‘cell phone, bitch’)
The point is not that she was drunk, not that she was an idiot who, at 18, had already had a couple of DUIs and who, at 18, immediately mentioned lawyers when I asked her name.
The point is I was excited. When I got called for the accident, I got excited. When I realized it was probably a DUI, I got excited. When she decided she wanted to throw down with me, I got excited.
It occurred to me, as I’m wrenching her arms behind her back and trying to haul her outta the hospital beforeI lost control of the situation entirely, that I am in a fairly perverse profession.
When I have a good day, then by definition someone else is having a shitty day. I loved the high speed chase I was involved in last year. It ended only when the guy who raped his girlfriend and stole her car crashed headfirst into my car. I love going into domestic situations. I love walking into an underage drinking party with 50 or 60 kids all staring at me like I’m…well…the cops. I love it when I’m called to a burglary or a theft and I have to figure out not only whodunit, but wha’happened.
I love all that stuff and that bothers me a little. I should hate all those things. Those are terrible things that happen to real people, not stick figures on COPS or cardboard cutouts on CSI. This is real blood and real teeth on the floor and real contact visits between inmates and their families mere hours before said inmate goes to prison for ten or twenty years.
So isn’t it a little perverse that I love those situations so much? I like to think I have sympathy and empathy and all the rest and that’s what makes me a good officer (and no, I’m not one of those guys who arrests everyone for everything..arrests aren’t the definition of a good copper, I believe), but I also understand that I dig the chaos and madness and that concerns me a little.
Not a lot, not to the point of paralysis, just a little…in the back of my head.
And I’m sure it’ll be in the back of my head tonight when I get called to an accident or a domestic battery or a knifing.
And I’m sure I’ll be breathing fast and heavy as I think: this rocks.