Then, when I ride in to work in my formal long pants and badged shirt I end up taking calls from the other side of the town, the side that is a good deal less cheerful, a lot darker and more angry and upset. It's like a whole other town from these happy tourists.
I had an armed robbery call the other night and the arrest was reported in the paper. Happily the dunce who held up the store did not seem to have a gun but he frightened me half to death as armed violence is rare and we had to worry that someone might get hurt. Domestic disputes are two a penny in a town that likes to drink too much, and every time officers go to these calls one has to wonder if anyone will get hurt. I find myself asking the same question over and over again. "Any weapons?" mostly the answer I type into the call is "No known weapons." and I hope that's true.
How is it possible I ask myself as the flood of misery spews out of the phone, how is it possible people can lose the plot so badly? The woman locked out of her house and trapped on the roof forced to ask a passing stranger to call for help? The man so drunk at home he calls convinced his roommate is dead, locked in his own room (he's not)? The tourists filled with panic in the lobby of their hotel, desperately seeking their stolen bicycle, found minutes later with all the joy of the Biblical prodigal son. How do you get so drunk you pass out on the sidewalk and a stranger stepping over you has to call 9-1-1 to get you help? It happens all the time and I feel bad for the freaked out tourists who think this is an unusual occurrence.
If Key West were a big city filled with menace and violence I doubt I could do the job of sending help all night long. The number of truly violent calls is far outnumbered by the idiotic and drunk and foolish. The lady with a vibrator stuck "down there" is comic relief after endless calls of pain and drink induced ranting. I'm not sure who was more embarrassed, she who had to face the paramedics I sent, or her boyfriend who had to make the call. Later another angry dunce thinks to intimidate me: "Do you know who I am?" Not if you won't tell me...Just doing my job is the relief valve that goes through my brain a dozen times a shift. To be a Police Dispatcher is to see that side of human nature that does not generate respect for the species as a whole.
I like walking Key West with my dog. It helps to forget the roommate who really did find his neighbor dead with his head blown off. I'm glad that was discovered on day shift. Suicide is easy as the song has it, perhaps in music, but in real life it does no good at all for those left behind.Even those of us merely on the periphery of death, enjoy a little quiet time in the streets of the prettiest town in America, to stop thinking about exactly what drives a human to end it all
Boring walks? Perhaps, but one can't have the relief without the trite, from time to time. Not every call is a crisis, but neither is every walk an exploration, but it is in fact an affirmation. Of
life. So there.
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