And so I’m done with nights.
Twenty months and beginning tomorrow morning, I’m back on days. Back to seeing the sunshine and daytime traffic and people moving about and businesses open and all the rest of it…the rest of it being cow calls. So many cow calls…. Part of going to nights was the the excitement of knowing I was going to trade cows for drunks.
Not so much. I traded cows for…mostly nothing, which drove me batty.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed much of my time on nights. I learned quite a lot, proved a point to a couple of people, tried to prove a point to a couple of other people who weren’t paying attention, and got a few DUIs. It was fun.
But it was also tough. I have a newfound respect for those men and women who work nights long-term. Some do it because it works best for their marriage (either staying away from, or getting together with, spouses), some do it because that’s what works best for babysitting their kids.
Some do it because they love nights.
Yeah, piss on that.
I worked 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and I’m not the kind of guy who can sleep all day. So I’d get home, put in a couple hours sleep, then get up, try and muddle through a few hours of getting chores and homework done, then collapse back into bed for two or three hours before getting up to go to work.
I’ve spent the better part of 20 months lethargic.
Ooooh, great, just what you want from a man carrying a gun for a living.
So now I’m back to seeing the sun but there are things I’ll never forget about my time on nights.
First and foremost, fighting with a PCP drunk for control of my gun. And being amazed later when I realized it had been his mother who took him – in the wee hours of the morning – to his former girlfriend’s house because she thought the two needed to talk. Okay, your kid is drunk, he’s high on PCP, he’s angry that she broke up with him, it’s early in the morning…what in hell makes you think this is a good idea? Actually, I can’t prove Mama drove baby boy to the squeeze’s house because through the entire case, she refused to speak.
I won’t soon forget the man speeding down an icy highway at better than 80 miles an hour. Two sons in the car, said he was late for a basketball game, and that the roads weren’t that bad. Less than two hours later, there was a major accident at the EXACT spot where I’d stopped him. So violent was the accident that one of the drivers had to be LifeFlighted immediately to Peoria.
And what about the college graduate who was so lost and so anxious about it she was throwing up? Following a GPS that had all the roads, but not all the road construction. She’d gotten lost in a loop of three different highways and just kept going around and around and around, sort of like an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She had just finished school but had never been beyond her home state of South Dakota and so, apparently, had no idea what to do if lost…or that the world didn’t always conform to her GPS.
But maybe the biggest eye opening I had on nights was a DUI I got early on. Had I known at the time that the arrestee was part of the rich and powerful set, who knows how I would have handled it. As it was, I didn’t know she was ‘somebody’ until later so I treated her like I treat everyone.
The problem was, she wasn’t everyone and didn’t believe she should be treated that way. She believed she should be left alone. As soon as she bonded out of jail (bailed by an attorney who showed up drunk to get her) she allegedly started making phone calls to the tall end of the food chain. Everything after that was about getting her out of the trouble.
She took her suspension, then fought it, then took it. Then she was going to plead guilty, then decided to go to trial, then argued illegal stop when, in fact, I had never made a traffic stop (I made contact with her on her front porch). At trial, she had her drunk husband, as well as another well known local drunk, and the bartender (whose wife she’d just hired at her bank two weeks before) all testify for her.
What struck me most about the entire case was how badly no one wanted to touch it, but couldn’t do anything else. To have dropped it completely would have meant admitting there are at least two classes of justice in the county. So it had to go to trial and everyone had to play the stage drama of searching for ‘justice.’
If there had been real justice, then the witnesses who lied for her on the stand would have gotten hammered. Their lies contradicted the other witnesses and her husband (buzzed on the stand) contradicted himself four or five times within his own testimony and no one – defense attorney, prosecuting attorney, judge – said dick about it.
But I don’t think I’m overly bitter about it. After all, she had to live with the six month suspense and who knows how many thousands it cost her to buy the attorney. Petty victory, I know, but it’s all I got out of that one.
There were other things: the fire department that refused to put out the fire, the homeless guy who tried to ‘mistakenly’ steal my duty jacket, the Cook County deputies who refused to let me pick up a prisoner in spite of my marked squad car and uniform.
But mostly there was boredom. Night after night, two hundred miles a night of empty roads and quiet towns and closed businesses. Entire nights would crawl by and I would have nothing: no traffic, no calls, no fights, no accidents.
And for that entire twenty months? Only a single cow call.
Welcome back to days, Deputy, bring on the cows.