Officer Alex explains that it’s the little things that mean a lot. Like sauerkraut and mustard.
Picture it: The cloying scent of multiple dishes of food combining to permeate every pore of your body (as well as your clothing—you will smell delicious the next time you wear that fall sweater). The sound of family bickering due to the heat of the kitchen and the forced proximity. The occasional whiff of alcohol from the statistically likely intoxicated family member who is either vehemently denying it or openly embracing it and announcing the worst is yet to come…
“Special” dishware seen only twice a year (three, depending on the recognition of Easter on a family-by-family basis), an octogenarian who may or may not have a pulse (or teeth) based on their position as they lay unconscious in a chair, an unwanted pet leaving shit-mines on the floor…
It’s Thanksgiving, a beautifully nondenominational holiday based on nothing but the concept of gratitude for nourishment that is hard to not look forward to no matter how some group of assholes tries to somehow vilify it as is done to other holidays. I actually look forward to it, but wait—I’m a cop.
I’ll be spending it in a car. (“Sad Trombone Sound.”)
My view of Thanksgiving? It’s not of snot-nosed kids breaking mom’s antiques or Aunt Lana’s rants of eternal self-deluded victimization. No. My view is of afternoon streets looking like a set from “The Walking Dead” (not to be confused with East Lake), and business districts normally packed with cars now only populated by the errant stray cat or newspaper insert drifting along a sewer drain at the mercy of the wind…
Streets usually packed with people are barren, and even the malls are nearly locked down. Everyone is at home, except for cops and our distant cousins, the convenience store clerks. Even the bums are gone, huddled inside churches or the Community Kitchen downtown eating to their hearts’ content.
And so for the indigenous cop, Thanksgiving turkey comes in the form of a turkey dog (or so I hope) and the trimmings consist of whatever can be squeezed out of a sealed packet or now, thanks to advancements in Convenience Store Technology, actual bottles of condiments. The only pie for dessert will be a miniature one filled with pecans and a “Little Debbie” label on its wrapper, but the pumpkin spice coffee-powder-machine thing will bring some comfort at least.
If this sounds negative, though, it’s not. Those are just observations of Cop Reality. We chose this job and there’s no time off for good behavior.
Speaking of which, I do have one unspoken rule about working Thanksgiving and Christmas that may come off as a tad harsh: Mandatory Arrests for Domestic Disorders.
I don’t feel as strongly about it as I did earlier in my career, but I’ve always felt that if you are such a dysfunctional human being that you cannot control yourself to the point of not having to call the police to your home on arguably the most wholesome holiday of the year, you have an automatic ride to the Quiet Room coming your way.
I’d go pretty far to spend this holiday with my family, but I made a choice that requires me to be on the job instead of with them. So if you get the privilege of being with yours and require actual police intervention to restore order…well. Order will be restored and the only cranberry sauce your ass will be getting will be in the corner of a Styrofoam tray from the capable chefs (no lie) at 601 Walnut Street. I just want to help people, and for the sake of your family, I will help you a lot on a holiday. (Fair warning.)
Where was I? Ah. The addition of sauerkraut in the modern Kangaroo (and occasional Racetrack).
It’s really changed my traditional on-duty holiday meal. It almost seems taboo, but that thought fades once that Heinz spicy mustard makes itself known under that kraut...Mmmmm.
Whatever you’re thankful for, hold on to it. Keep it close. And when Aunt Lana tries to kick you out for no reason or Cousin Jefferson spills your drink? Just let it go. Tomorrow is another day, and it’s not a holiday. Enjoy your meal in peace and I assure you…I will enjoy mine.
(I mean, spicy mustard and sauerkraut, right?! Now every day can be Thanksgiving…for Officer Teach.)