Friday, August 18, 2017

Harbor

Chelsea said to me "You get a lunch break tonight don't you?" So I did, because I had worked overtime I had accumulated enough hours answering 911 to get a lunch break and I had forgotten all about it. Nick covered my position, my Vespa keys were in one pocket and my wallet in the other and before I knew it I was outside the police station pondering my next move at eleven thirty two pm.
  
The thing is that when you have sixty minutes to burn in the middle of the night in Key West and you aren't sleepy there are limited options.  It's unsurprising really when you consider the shortage of landmass and the limitations of being on duty in a police polo shirt and the requirement that you be back at your desk in 58 minutes ready to deal with whatever crisis is gripping the mostly sleeping city.  Usually I pull out a hurricane cot from the emergency supply shelf and get a blanket I keep in my locker and I nap for 55 minutes on my break in the early hours.  At eleven thirty this line of napping won't work. Sitting on the break room balcony watching Netflix on my phone seems generationally incorrect for a man of my years. So I go for a ride and a think. 
  
Perforce destinations are limited and I thought about Smathers Beach for a bit, or the White Street pier watching people fish. And then I thought perhaps I'd like to walk the docks at Key West Bight so I headed that way. A ten minute slow ride and I reached the edge of the continental landmass. Earlier this week we had a ghastly murder in Key West of a brutality that beggars belief, the details are repeated in the paper every time the (alleged) murderer's picture appears on the front page. A gun was discharged but the victim died after being stabbed in the eyes, having a shard of wood stomped down his throat and a piece of broken wood was used to club his head and neck. Then the (alleged) murderer jumped out the window naked with a back pack. It took two hours for officers to close in on him, Slowly and carefully closing in on a man who they believed might be armed and ready to shoot. These are the times that stress a dispatcher with worry. 
 
So you sit there and ponder with all the misinformation of the early investigation at your fingertips wondering what could prompt a human being to treat the man they were in bed with a few seconds earlier to try to murder them.  Of course there is no answer so you keep on keeping on and try to figure out  how to explain to the caller with the noise complaint why we have no officers availble to help him with his emergency.  The fact that there is a major emergency under way cuts no ice with the citizen who can't sleep.  And I can't tell him he's lucky no one is murdering him right now. I get to see all sides of a problem and it wears me out. Walking the docks works to get some distance.
   
When I got married 24 years ago I never really thought about it as an act of political rebellion but now it turns out if you hate Jews in America you have our President's backing and I can hardly believe what a weird state of affairs the country is in. I have no doubt, mostly that the institutions of state will survive this weirdness as they did the Civil War and the ructions of the anti war 60s and 70s but it feels decidedly odd to find myself observing a total social meltdown.  I know my history but I don't know the future and living in a country where the President speaks as this one does leaves me profoundly disappointed. 
  
I've heard rumors the next target is the university at Gainesville so if the rumor is widespread hopefully the authorities can scotch that plan. I can't imagine dispatching a situation where people are gathered to beat each other up.  And cops are of course bound to be in danger of physical harm and quarter backing by citizens who know everything about crowd control.
  

I don't know where the country goes next because I don't believe polls showing low public support for the President. Those same polls predicted a win by Clinton last November and as lukewarm as I was for her at the time right now I wish the polls had been right. I wish they were correct now but I'm not convinced there aren't a lot of people in this country who think that sacrificing civil rights and decency to support their goal of ending "globalism" is somehow a worthwhile exchange.  I want no part of that. I'm no fan of multi national corporations and corporate tax evaders but I don't believe the end justifies the means and I certainly don't see any moral equivalence between fascism and fighting fascism. 
 
I don't understand ambivalence about our President anymore just as I don't understand violence as a solution to anything much. Yet this is not the time to step back and let these people have their way.  I hope the Democrat party pulls together and gives us a constitutional and peaceful way to fight back against the President and Steve Bannon and all his plans for a fourth turning.  I miss the calm and certainty and even the unfulfilled promises of President Obama's hope and change.  We live in a country with huge potential to lead the world in developing alternative energy to combat climate change, we have a history of struggling to figure out citizens' rights and obligations in our multi cultural society, and we've shown the world how to get it right by getting it wrong first and I see no future in sliding back on our technology, our collective morality or our hope for a better future. Boy, things look bleak.  Time to get my mind off this stuff and get back to work and hope no one kills anyone tonight in Key West.