Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vacation Blues

I just survived, or maybe I should say that “Red” just survived our family vacation. It was a close call. If I had had my duty weapon, he might be dead by now.  I realize that many who read this blog are men, but I’m sure there will be a few mothers/wives who can relate to the “vacation blues” that a mother/wife experiences during a family vacation. The cause of the blues is mainly due to the realization that you are not only vacationing with the two children who plowed through your birth canal, but also the one you married.
First off, there is the actual traveling. I was a prepared mother….I had a bag stocked with “travel presents” that Chatterbox and Towhead would be allowed to open every so often in an effort to reduce the chances of tears and boredom and the “Are we there yet?” syndrome that strikes every child within the first hour of any trip. I have been staunchly against the car dvd players. I want my kids to remember seeing the landscape, and experiencing travel, instead of being zoned out in front of Spongebob Square-pants or some other equally stupid cartoon for the entire length of the trip. In short, I’m an idiot. The travel presents were a failure. I made the mistake of getting the kids different “presents” therefore causing Chatterbox to immediately scream, “I want ___________ (whatever Towhead just received)”. Who knew that a 4 year old girl would want the same toy/book/snack as a 2 year old boy? Me of course. I am the mommy.
Secondly, Towhead was teething. I think. Or he had an ear infection. Or he simply hated traveling. Whatever the cause, he felt it necessary to cry. And cry. And cry. I found myself leaping from the front seat to the backseat. Singing. Putting on puppet shows. Playing numerous games of “This Little Piggy” (only to have Chatterbox scream, “No-It’s my turn!!”) Coloring. Head caressing. Peek a booing. Face making. Ear plugging. Cursing. And shooting dirty looks to…. Red.
Red was driving. The whole time. He was in pure bliss. Red has the ability to simply block out all else that is happening in the car, and enjoy the ride. He gazes out the window, watching for birds to add to his life list. He goes no faster than 2 miles over the speed limit (even when Chatterbox is whining, “I have a tummy ache” translation: “I have to go poopy really bad”). He even has the gall to apply the brakes now and then, just to piss me off. I distinctly remember the same thing happening when I was pregnant and needing to pee. He would go at idle speed two blocks from our house.
He gave off the vibe: No worries here! Mommy will take care of it.
Red’s other downfall? He can’t handle changing plans. I have to give him several days warning if I so much as think about asking him to stop at the store on the way home from work to pick up a loaf of bread. Otherwise I must explain in great detail what I expect. And it must be worded very carefully. “Would you mind swinging into the store and getting a loaf of bread? I didn’t have time, since it is deer opener and all.”  (What I want to say is- Stop at the store and get bread. I didn’t have time because I too have a full time job- two hours of which was spent trying to come up with an idea for supper since the only suggestion you ever have is ham-steak. And because you used up the last slice on your day off with the children at home. Even though on my days off (as well as my days on) I frequent the grocery store with both our children. And no, it isn’t fun but I do it anyway.”
Silence. Silence.
“You mean, like the gas station (which is less out of the way)”.
“No, I mean like the grocery store. Where bread doesn’t cost $7 a loaf. It is the place where there are rows upon rows of food. Many people go there. And some people even take their children. I rarely purchase our roast beef from the BP. “
Silence. Silence.
Then, ten minutes later he will call me, while inside the actual grocery store and ask me to direct him to the correct aisle.
I digress.
After three hours spent in the car with my miserable children, cramped into the backseat and stressed out, we finally pull into a rest stop so Chatterbox can take care of her tummy ache. This is accomplished by me standing inside the stall with her and telling her, “Chatterbox, you have one mission here. You need to concentrate on pooping. Don’t ask me why there is a bug on the wall, or ask why there is water on the floor or ask why fish like to swim. You should have only one thing in your mind right now. Pooping. And don’t ask me why.”
Red, in the meantime is standing out in the grass with Towhead who has also filled his pants. Red apparently doesn’t do diapers on vacation. So, while I’m changing Towhead’s diaper, Chatterbox locates a playground at the rest stop and proceeds to have lots of fun going down the slide. After I finish changing the diaper, I feel it is only fair to let Towhead slide for a while too. I could use a little break myself. BUT. This wasn’t part of Red’s plan. He shoots me a dirty look as I tell Towhead to try out the fun slide. After about three turns Red tells the children it is time to go. They disagree. Usually this is when I step in and remind them that they must obey their father. Only this time I stay quiet. He can be the bad guy for once in his life.

Thirty minutes in to a two hour side trip on the second day. Towhead was grabbing his ears and bawling. I was miserable. Finally I said to Red, "You know, I don't think we are going to make it all the way." He looked at me in confusion. Had he not been hearing his son (and his wife) crying for the last half an hour? "Towhead is obviously in pain. I don't know what to do." His response? "I don't think there is anything you CAN do." He continued driving in peace. So I said, "Well, how about NOT driving for two hours?" Sure enough, as soon as those words left my mouth, little Towhead shut up. See? Red was right again (or so his smug look tells me). We continued on our merry way.
Then, there is the continental breakfast at the hotel.  The room was packed when we arrived. The hotel was hosting a wedding party and a church group and they all wanted breakfast at the same time. So we walk in. I’m holding onto Towhead so he doesn’t bolt for the pool and holding Chatterbox’s hand for the same reason. But there are no tables available. Instead of helping me come up with a plan of attack for providing our offspring with the most important meal of the day (without losing them in the melee), Red makes a break for the food. Two minutes later he arrives back with a plate full of biscuits and gravy (for himself) and looks at me like I should’ve found a table for all of us by now.
I’m regaining control.
There is more to the vacation from hell story. But I think this is good enough for now.
It is safe for me to remove my handgun from its safe in the morning and go to work. I look forward to chatting with people who, though they may be wearing shirts that read, “If It Flies It Dies” (it is dove opener, after all), at least they won’t expect me to cook for them, do the dishes and put their children to bed. After baking a cake. And having sex.
Thanks for letting me vent. I better go now- we are out of milk. And I need to unpack Red’s bag.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Squeal Like a Pig

Sometimes I can hear the banjo from the movie Deliverance before I even get out of my truck. It is almost like a version of having the hair raise up on the back of your neck. And my heart-rate speeds up a notch.

And it ticks even a little faster when, after running a driver's license, the dispatcher responds with,  "Are you 10-61?", meaning, "Are you standing right there with this dirtbag?" Immediately I know that the person I am dealing with has a warrant for their arrest. I don't check the record of every person that I run into, but sometimes I get that feeling, (um...not profiling), that I ought to check into things a bit.

I was working a "dirty" wildlife area in my territory late last Saturday night. I'm always a little bit creeped out working this area by myself, especially at night, and my nerves become even more high strung when I see someone's campfire, down by the river, and well off the road.

So it was 11:30 pm, when I drove my truck over a dirt barrier and made my way to the river. I parked the truck and walked to the river's edge where I found two guys, both with lines in the water. And a dog. A snarling, unfriendly dog.

I always approach people in a friendly manner- asking if they have had any luck yet. First clue- Sleazy guy #1 wouldn't look at me. Second clue- Sleazy guy #2 didn't call off his mean dog. They had driven their car over the same dirt hill I had and parked it on the edge of the trees, near where they were fishing. I asked for their fishing licenses and as they were digging through their wallets, I casually walked over and looked through the windows of the car. There was the usual clothes, cans, and assorted junk....and, covered in a blanket on the floor behind the front seat was an uncased .22 rifle. I bit my tongue and walked back to the men.

Each man handed me a license. Sleazy guy #2's licenses had a first name of Ann. I was pretty sure that this tattooed, greasy-haired, person standing before me was not named Ann. After pointing this out to the man, he admitted that Ann was his fiance. He handed me a driver's license and asked if I could "call it in". "Sure!" I said, and walked back to my truck.

The first person I called was the dispatcher at state radio, and that is when I found out that Sleazy guy #2 had an arrest warrant. After asking me if I was 10-61, she asked me what my "20" (location) was....Sleazy guy #2 had an aggravated assault on is record. Great. No troopers available, but they would try to get a deputy on the way to back me up.

Next I called our licensing system. No fishing license on record either. Just before getting out of my truck to talk to the men again, my phone rang. It was the sheriff's department wanting to know exactly where I was. First off, I must explain that many of the sheriff's deputies in my territory are rather clueless, so my chances of getting one of the few good ones was pretty slim. You would think a county deputy would be familiar with all the roads in the county. But you would be wrong. And it didn't help matters that I wasn't on a road at all. The deputy (of the clueless clan) said he would "try to find" me.

So, I was left with a I tell Sleazy guy #2 that he has a valid warrant? Do I let Sleazy guy #1 know that I saw the rifle in the car?

It is always a balancing act. How long can I stall before the deputy shows up without aggravating, or making these two guys nervous. I had already spent plenty of time on the phone, and Sleazy guy #1 was pacing. I decided it was best to leave sleeping dogs lie. I didn't say anything.

My fear was that if I dealt with Sleazy guy #2 about his warrant, it would make him nervous (and perhaps desperate). If I dealt with Sleazy guy #1 about the gun, I might find out that either Sleazy guy # 1 OR Sleazy guy #2 had another gun tucked conveniently in his pocket.

This tactic has worked pretty well for me in the past. Rather than get the suspect all hot and bothered without back-up, I wait until help arrives before dropping the bad news. One hunting season I happened upon an individual who had a $50,000 federal warrant from a state on the opposite side of the country. And the state was happy to extradite. It took about 10 minutes for 3 troopers and a deputy to show up on the dirt road, out in the boondocks to help me out. Unfortunately, my deputy back-up on Saturday was a wee bit on the tardy side.

Eventually I felt I had stalled as long as I possibly could, and decided to tackle the "rifle in the back-seat" issue first. I informed Sleazy guy #1 that I had spotted the rifle in the back of their car. I acted like it was no big deal-I just needed to make sure it was unloaded to make it safe. Then I asked if I could search the rest of the vehicle to make sure there were no more guns. Slezy guy #1 decided not to cooperate. No, I couldn't search (meaning either...yes, there are more guns in there Mrs. Warden....or do you like drugs Mrs. Warden? Because that is what you will find....or both).

By this time Sleazy guy #2 wanted to know what was going on with his fishing license. So, I broke the bad news that he had never purchased a license for the current year, and that he would receive a citation for not having a license. Just as I was about to break the especially bad news about the warrant, the deputy came thumping over the dirt mound. Just in time.

Sleazy guy #2 found out he was going to jail, and Sleazy guy #1 found out he was getting a citation for the uncased gun. Luckily, though they were obviously disturbed by this turn of events, neither one decided to act on it. They were cooperative.

The fiddle music went away. This time.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Translator Wanted.

Sometimes I run into a stumbling block. It happened last night.

I was down below a dam checking fishermen when I come across two men who were fishing with a small stick with line wrapped around it. As soon as they saw me, one of the men tried to hide his stick under a rock. Too late- I saw it.
So I approach them and ask to see some fishing licenses. Blank stares. I ask again. More blank stares...and then "No Ingles! No Ingles". The men were clearly of Asian descent and I have run into this problem before. Luckily I was prepared, I pull out my handy dandy cards I had a Chinese professor from the local university translate for me. One of the cards says, "Do you have a fishing license?" So, I point to the sentence in chinese characters and one of the men excitedly says, "Oooh! Yes! License!" And he nods furiously. I point to his bag and try to play charades to ask if his license is in his bag. After several rounds of charades I give up, and pick up his bag and mime my way through getting consent to search its contents. Nothing. Not even an i.d.

When I show the second man the same sentence he furiously waves his hand around in the air like he is saying "Bye Bye", leaving me a bit confused as to whether he means, 'No, I don't have a license" or
'Man this place reeks of dead fish'.

So I turn back to the first guy and ask (in a loud voice, because it is hard not to do, even though I know he isn't deaf), "License?" I make a motion with my hands indicated that I need to see it with my eyes. I point to my eyes then point to the sentence asking about a fishing license. The man again shakes his head madly and starts saying, "Highway! Highway!" while he is pointing up in the sky. Huh?

"Your license is at the highway?"

"Highway! Yes! Highway!"

I point in the direction of the nearest highway and say questioningly, "Highway? Highway 6?"

Suddenly he starts making a shape in the air of a box and pokes his fingers into the box, "Highway!"

I point towards his bike and begin the pedal mime. I'm standing on the edge of the river running in place with my hands on imaginary handlebars, pumping away and saying very loudly, "Go to highway? Ride your bike to highway? License at highway?"

The Chinese man begins laughing at me.

I turn back to the other man and he merely begins his wild goodbye wave.

So, I take my fishing license from my pocket and pretend like I am handing it to an imaginary game warden. Then I switch places and become the imaginary game warden. I take the license from the imaginary me and look at the license admiringly, then give the imaginary me a giant thumbs up, in a desperate attempt to show that they need to show the game warden the fishing license.

The man laughs more. Apparently I'm putting on quite a show. More fisherman are beginning to watch my little one woman act.

Finally I pull out my pad of paper so I can attempt to get the man's name. I give him the paper and a pen, then pull out my flashcards. I find the one that says, "Please write your name."

The man smiles grandly, happy that he can finally do something that I'm asking him to do. He grabs the paper and scratches out what appears to be about 15 Chinese characters. I'm fairly certain that the Clerk of Court won't accept a citation written in chinese characters, so I begin belting out the abc's song. The men look at eachother and begin clapping along.

I give up.

I wave my hands back and forth, meaning "NO", then I pretend to reel in a fish, meaning "FISHING". NO MORE FISHING UNTIL YOU SHOW ME A LICENSE!

"Highway! Tomorrow!" He points to the river, "Tomorrow!"

"No," I say, shaking my head, "No more fishing!"

The men laugh and begin clapping some more. "Sank you, Sank you!" they say happily.

Just as I turn to walk in shame back to my truck, the men pick up their sticks and throw the line back into the water.

Mission accomplished. Or not.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

And the Winner Is...

Every once in a while...ok, let's be honest, quite often, I encounter someone that makes me feel like a pretty darn good parent (at least in comparison).

Tonight I got a phone call from the "Range Officer" at the pistol/rifle hooting range on one of the wildlife areas. He reported that someone brought a baby to the shooting range. The baby was in a stroller, with no ear protection, inside the fenced in shooting range. A blanket covered the baby (it was 90 degrees today), and the child had been bawling for the last half hour.

By the time I arrived at the shooting range, the couple had gotten the baby into their car to go home. I approached the (very young) parents, and instructed them to never, EVER, bring the baby back to the shooting range again. The father just stared at me like he wanted to punch me, and the mother had a perpetual smirk on her face like she was going to start laughing.

"You have probably already given the baby some hearing damage by exposing him to these gunshots out here...not to mention all the lead," I said.

More blank stares and smirks...then the dad said, "Well we put the blanket over top of his stroller to muffle the sound. I stuck my head under there and it was just like wearing earmuffs."

I lectured him about the fragility of a baby's eardrums, and told them that if I ever saw the baby at the shooting range again that I would pursue Child Endangerment charges.

"Well, we are taking him to the sprint car nationals  next weekend, so he will be exposed to even more noise," the father said (purely to piss me off) as he climbed into the car to leave.

They drove away and I looked at the Range Officer in disbelief. How could a parent be this stupid?

After I left, I called a deputy to find out whether Child Endangerment would really fit the bill. He said that he didn't think it would, but it was definitely a candidate for the Dumbass Parent of the Year Award. It was one of those moments when I really wished I could give someone a ticket for being stupid.

I hung up and called DHS.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pot? What pot?

I've spent the last several evenings arresting drunk people driving boats. Of course, I always stumble on them as I'm on my way back to my vehicle to head home for the night. Two nights ago I had an especially interesting one. He was not only drunk...but also high.

Here is a list of things this gem said to me throughout the evening.

1. "Pot? What pot?"
"The pot that I quite plainly smell right now. Where is it?"
"I don't have any pot. Do you guys have any pot?"

2. "Pleeeeaaaase? I'm already in enough trouble out here. Can you please pretend you didn't see the pot?"
"What do you mean you are already in enough trouble out here?"
"Two weeks ago some lady said that I raped her. It was a misunderstanding."

3. "How much did you smoke?"
"I didn't smoke anything."
"I'm not stupid. How much did you smoke?"
"I didn't smoke anything."
"Open your mouth so I can see your tongue....thank you...that's what I thought. How much did you smoke?"
"Maybe one hit."

4. "Is there anyone you can call to come and load up your boat? We are going downtown, so someone needs to take possession of your boat. Who can you call?"
"I could call my wife, but she is still mad at me about the rape."

5. "You are under arrest for Boating While Intoxicated. If you are going to be decent with me, I'll cuff you in the front for the ride."
"Wow, I feel like a seal. These are great flippers!" (as he claps his cuffed hands together).

6. "Can you pleeeeaaase turn on the lights and sirens? This is the worst night of my life, at least you can make it a little more fun for me."

7. "My nipples are hard. Can you turn down the air?"
"Unless you want my nipples to be hard."
"No thanks"

8. "And I'm not going to say anything about women drivers. That would be a bad idea right now. So I'm not going to say one thing about bad women drivers. By the way, why couldn't Helen Keller drive?"
"Because she was a woman! Ha Ha Ha!"
"Didn't you think that was funny? Even a little bit?"
"I guess not. Sorry."

9. "Come to think of it I don't think I smoked any of that weed."

10. "This is a Drug Recognition Expert. He is here to run you through some tests to see how much the drugs are affecting your body."
"What drugs?"
He fails each test miserably until finally he says,
"Ok, I don't want to do any more tests. You have already looked at my eyes enough"
DRE: "Sir, we only have about 2 more minutes to go in these tests. We would appreciate it if you would just finish it up."
"Well....alright. I guess you probably know by now that I haven't smoked anything anyway. Go ahead and finish."

11. "I was fired last week because my boss said I have a bad attitude and that all I care about is boating."
"You sure it wasn't for getting arrested and charged with rape?"
"Could've been that too."

12. "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law..."
"That is what got me into trouble with the rape. I told the truth."

Uh huh-That was about four hours of my life I will never get back. Is it hunting season yet? Pleeeaaase?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cops Against CSI

People shouldn't be allowed to watch CSI.

Let me re-phrase that...people shouldn't be allowed to watch CSI and then call me. I wish the department would outfit me with all the gadgets that the folks on CSI have in their back pockets, but to be perfectly honest, even my flashlight barely works...and I had to beg for that. The chance of my supervisor handing me some kind of handheld, fingerprint reader, dna matcher, bad guy-finder do-dad is pretty far out of the question.

So, here are some calls I've taken where I think the expectations might have been a bit high. And these are really just the few I could think of in the last ten minutes:

Q: "My jet ski was stolen, but I found it parked at a sandbar on the river. Can you come and take a look at it?"
A: "And then what? I can come and look at your jet ski that was once stolen but later found. And I can look at it some more. But no matter how long I look at it, I will never be able to take fingerprints from it. And even if I could take fingerprints from it, I have nothing to which to compare them. No matter how long I stare at the jet ski, no visions will come to me. I'm not a psychic."

Q: "Someone was trespassing on my property last night. I never saw the vehicle, but you should be able to come up with something from the tire tracks they left."
A: "Um. No. I won't be able to determine jack from the tire tracks they left. Unless they happened to drop the vehicle registration on top of the tire tracks, there are only about 100,000 vehicles in the state with the same exact tires making the same exact tracks as those left in your driveway."

Q:"I found an arrow in the road. I'll keep it for you in case it ever matches up to another case you are working on."
A: "Thank you so much for the help. I'm sure someday I will be able to match up the arrow to a poaching case. Was the arrow hand-made in some unique fashion, or is it a lot like the rest of the billion arrows sold to bowhunters nationwide? I'll scan it with my super-duper arrow identifier 3000, and maybe look at the blades under a spectra-micronoscope to determine the dna of the hairs the arrow might have once touched from the deer that was missed."

Q: "There are a pile of geese thrown in the dumpster behind our apartment complex"
A: "Did they happen to tell you who shot them? Oh, and did they have a license? Because otherwise, we have no violation."

Q: "I found a small piece of camo clothing on the barbed wire fence where someone has been trespassing. I saved it in case you can use it as evidence."
A: "Good thinking."

No, I'm not bitter. Just don't get me started on Law and Order.