Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Madding Crowd

Summer is back because the southeast wind has dropped, at least for now. Humidity is my friend in September, though I keep it at arm's length with air conditioning until I step out of the car, when I release the hound and take a look through my camera to check the settings. 
With an all-in-one bridge camera and a built-in zoom lens I don't need to haul a  camera bag around with me. I do make sure I have a microfiber cloth in my pocket separate from the leash and plastic bag. To get rid of the fog on the lens it's best to wait for the camera to warm up and the external moisture to fade. The you wipe up the rest and you are back in business.  Tropical fun!
I was doubly pleased I rolled out of bed on my day off to watch the sun come up. On the one hand I hadn't been to Bahia Honda for a week or more and then on the next day I got a text at four in the morning announcing a dispatcher had called out sick. Rusty had woken me up for his pre-dawn mail check, the walk we take before I go to work, and on my day off he waited till five. The text meant no day off together as we are so short staffed one sick call out throws 911 into crisis. Off I went to save the day and make 12 hours overtime.
It's a schizophrenic life switching between closeted days stuck in a room answering endless calls for help, rants, and queries I can't answer without referring to my friend and savior Google. I'm a civilian and I have no idea how old you have to be to drive a jet ski in Florida. I never went to the police academy nor did I study law enforcement in college. I simply send  help and it is a misunderstanding to think a 911 operator can help you unravel legal questions.. The other half of my life involves me tramping around in silence with my mute dog and my unresponsive camera. What do you think, I ask the Lumix FZ1000..? It opens the electronic shutter as silently as Rusty or myself. We walk on silently together.
I drove back to Summerland Key to meet my wife and a friend of 15 years for an al fresco, distanced breakfast at the Galley Grill. I ate chopped up vegetables and eggs, Layne had shrimp and grits, her breakfast treat, and Carol had a selection of sides because she's even more high maintenance than Layne.  Carol retired from the school district and fortunately did a lot of traveling before Covid, by flitting to South America and Africa and adding to her long list of islands she has visited.
They went to Easter Island a few years ago to celebrate a birthday in their women's group and for a while the house was filled with replicas of granite heads and moai tea cloths and things. I busied myself learning about how the islanders screwed up their island with war and ecological destruction until the lesson seemed rather too apparent and uncomfortable to continue to read about.  I prefer to think about how that group of women exploring Rapa Nui and coming home with so many stories, are peeling off now and retiring and waiting for the world to welcome them back, far from their former classrooms.
I got a call from a person with a parking issue while I was at work. Its a routine 30 second call is a parking violation, where I get the address, the nature of the violation and a brief description of the vehicle so parking control knows what to look for on the street. Usually there is a long rigmarole where the caller wants to justify calling out a parked car so I let them rant if there aren't other calls waiting. The issue of parking in Key West is always anger provoking as too many people expect not to have to walk to a parked car even if they don't have off street parking or if they converted their garage into another bedroom depriving themselves of a private spot. I sit back and dream of my vast parking area at my suburban home in Cudjoe which easily accommodates my big-ass van.
This guy said there was a car parked in residential in front of his house. Fair enough: "residential no sticker" is my abbreviation for the notes...except this one did have a residential sticker. So... er... I asked what's the violation? No violation he said. I want to give you the license plate so you can find the owners name and phone and I can call him and ask him to move the car as I have just moved down to Key West and I have a truck coming with my furniture from the mainland.  Great idea! Except...
I am not allowed to give out private personal information to the public. I have access to a mass of private information, social security numbers, addresses, driving history and on and on and on for anyone with a  Florida residence. If I mess with this stuff I not only get fired but get criminally prosecuted. I am a civilian and only allowed to give it out to a sworn police officer and they decide how to use the information.  When I leave work I forget what I saw and I never talk about it. Do you want me discussing your criminal history at a cocktail party (if we ever have one again)? Or your emergency contact numbers? Of course not.
I tried to explain that what I could do was send him an officer who could assess the situation and perhaps make the call using information I could provide. Often we have names and phone numbers from previous encounters and the officer can authorize me to make the call to prevent a vehicle getting towed, say, or to ask someone to reassure an anxious relative Up North with a phone call. I like being able to help people where I can as an antidote to hearing about how screwed up the world is. The irate newcomer to Key West was thoroughly unpleasant and when I tried to explain the possibility of reserving the spot for unloading by getting advanced permission all I did was start another rant. I used to think new arrivals with this mindset wouldn't last very long in laid back Key West. Nowadays I fear they are the majority.
I think this bird is a long tailed swallow and you can see them soaring about looking like they are having a  thoroughly enjoyable life up there riding the drafts. They don't live as long as we do and I don't see them reading many books so I shouldn't envy them at all and I don't. But I do miss them when I am closeted up in that room listening to people whose circumstances prevent them enjoying life at all costs. Sometimes life really does suck, no blame or fault is necessary and its good to have someone to call about it, but I can't wait for it not to be me anymore.