Cops find humor in dark places
I started this blog to help families to be safer in their everyday lives. I noticed while writing these articles that not all of my experiences have been dark and scary. Some have actually been quite funny.
I have learned many valuable lessons after spending the better part of two decades facing the criminal element. I would be cheating my readers if I didn’t provide a backdrop to some of these experiences that led me here. A lot of these experiences became easier to cope with when seen through the lens of humor.
As a cop, I have seen bad things. And I’m not alone. The pain and suffering that your average cop sees throughout his or her career is staggering. I’m not talking about the “in the rear with the gear” officers, but those uniform cops and detectives who work the front lines. Sorry if this offends any of my brothers and sisters but you know who you are.
Because of this daily clash of good verses evil, most cops develop a unique worldview.
And an odd sense of humor.
Also, a cops sense of humor can be seen as callous and off-putting to the casual observer. I met my wife in the late 1990’s and it didn’t take her long to notice this.
She’s normal. Normal people, for the most part, aren’t exposed to human suffering on a daily basis. Many cops also become overwhelmed when having to deal with everyone’s problems. Many cops use various coping methods to deal with the stress. Some even reach the point where they develop PTSD. A serious topic that is nothing to joke about.
Cops use humor to cope
The vast majority of cops use humor to cope with the heaviness of the job. Cops can be quite brutal with each other in an open forum. To the non-cop, it can come off as cruel. Cops use their unique brand of humor as a form of mental stretching. Like donning psychological armor in preparation for battle.
I, like most cops, loathe being in a non-cop family setting when someone innocently asks if you have any good “cop stories”.
If I’m in a foul mood I’ll usually pull out an archived “dead baby story” or some other ghastly incident to get them to leave me alone. After they are done recoiling in horror, I will politely ask for seconds if it’s a meal setting.
Since this is a family oriented site, I have chosen two incidents. Both have been filtered to a PG-13 rating. Both stories are based on actual calls that I have responded to during my career.
Now I’m no stand up comedian. Some of you reading this may think that I’m an idiot and not funny at all. And for some of you grammar extremists (Sorry, my brother, the liberal, would be offended if I said Nazi), go easy
Hospice and the living dead
Cops deal with death on a daily basis. All kinds of death. Murders, suicides, accidents, natural etc. It is hard to find humor in death. Well, unless your a cop.
It was a fall day, must be 10 years gone by now. I was a supervisor in uniform patrol when dispatch sent one of my of
ficers to a dead body call. The only information provided to us by dispatch was an elderly person had just passed away at home.
As protocol, any death that occurs outside of a hospital usually prompts a police response. Our main purpose when responding to a deceased person complaint is to contact the primary doctor and help the family with funeral arrangements.
Oh and to also make sure the death was natural and not murder.
The officer arrived on scene and after about 15 minutes, asked that I respond as well. There was nothing alarming in the officers tone on the radio. Sadly, this is considered a routine call for cops working the streets.
I arrived and met the officer at the front door. As he was briefing me, I could see the deceased lying in a single bed in the front room. The officer was running down the checklist of what he had done so far. Up until this point, the call was routine, nothing oout of the ordinary.
Suddenly, the dead person opened their eyes and suddenly sat upright, staring directly at me!!
The officer could see none of this as his back was to the so-called decedent. In what felt like a slow motion scene from a Will Ferrell movie, I began pushing and pointing over the shoulder of the officer shouting “H-E’-s A-L-I-V-E!!!”
The officer, a rookie, immediately hooked his arm underneath my right shoulder. With his other arm he reached around my back into a modified bear hug. While clenching me I could hear the officer in a frantic tone shouting “Sir, no, stop, Sir, please stop!!”
My first thought was how did this officer pass the academy. And why would he be so easily fooled into thinking that this person was actually dead. It was a good thing that I had responded to the scene. I pretty much saved this person from being buried live.
While I was mentally patting myself on the back for being such a terrific officer and supervisor, the officer blurted out, in front of the entire family..
“Sir, SIR, that’s not the dead person, she’s in the other room!”..
Two things every rookie officer learns real fast;
1. Everybody lies
2. You are not a free taxi service
I had to learn both. The hard way.
I had screwed up. Real bad. I knew what needed to be done. I had to tell my Sergeant. This was going to suck, but at least I would probably save my job. I called him on the radio and asked if he was available for a meeting. He confirmed that he was.
I met him at a nearby 7-11 and began telling him how I had royally effed up. To his credit, he began with the obligatory, “it’s okay Proctor, there’s nothing I can’t fix, if I know up front”. For half a second, I almost believed him.
Well, lets get on with it.
The rain fell in sheets. It rained hard; really, really hard. The radio was dead so I decided I would patrol my area just in case. Within 5 minutes, this idiot decided to jump right out in front of my cruiser. If it weren’t for my cat like reflexes and superior defensive driving skills, this dude would have been dead.
“Sarge, I’m not going to lie, I almost crapped my pants!” I said sheepishly as he nodded in agreement. And to make matters worse, the “almost dead guy” rushed up to my window blathering something frantic and incoherent. I immediately pulled my gun from the holster (calm down, I didn’t shoot him) and rolled my window down.
With water pouring off him, he muttered the words “help me officer” over and over. I then interrupted him, telling him in so many words, how lucky he was to be alive. Once he collected himself enough to make a full sentence and after I re-holstered my gun, he asked if he could get a ride.
I told him we don’t give rides. He persisted, begging for a short ride to the bus station. Its at this point I noticed, draped over his shoulders, a large green sea-bag, the same kind used by the military. Because it was so slow and the rain relentless, I told him to get in.
This was a bad decision
As he piled into my back seat with his fully stuffed sea-bag, I realized that I was violating policy. On top of that, I failed to let dispatch know that I had someone in my vehicle, another policy violation. At this point, the Sarge continued to remain calm, not saying much, just listening to my story.
As we drove towards the bus station I attempted to make small talk with the guy. He seemed friendly enough and outwardly grateful for the ride, thanking me over and over. After a couple of minutes of awkward silence, I asked the weary traveler what he had in the bag.
And another bad decision
This is where the story gets weird.
The guy then sat straight up in his seat with his head tilted slightly forward and said, “it’s none of your business officer.”
What kind of mess had I gotten myself into? For one, this guy just went from 0 to weird in less than 3 minutes. No one on earth knew he was in my vehicle. I started to sweat and could feel my heart rate increasing. Something was wrong.
I had to stay cool.
“Really man, I’m serious, what’s in the bag?” I quipped nervously. In a sarcastic and arrogant tone, the dude replied, “really officer, IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!”
At that point I made the decision to end this free ride!
I pulled into the first parking lot I could find and slammed on the brakes. My fare must have decided the same thing as he fled out the cruiser, on foot, as soon as we stopped. I gave chase but soon realized what a bad decision that was. The guy had broken no law, other than being weird and creepy.
As I walked back to my cruiser, soaking wet and feeling hustled, I saw that he had left the big green sea-bag in the back seat of my police car.
My Sergeant, showing great patience, asked several follow up questions about the incident. At no time did he yell or scream about how stupid I was or how many policies I had violated. As we ended the conversation and as I was walking back to my police car, he turned and asked, “Hey Proctor, one more question, what was in the bag?”
I looked directly at the Sergeant and, without hesitation, advised him “Sir, none of your business”…
(Note: Hospice and the Living Dead is 100 percent true. The Bag is only 50 percent true. The story itself never actually occurred but telling my Sergeant did.)