Alex Teach Image
“Jesus, Gary, what were you thinking? We’ve got, like, an hour left on shift,” I said as we cruised up Brainerd Road past what used to be a mall and is now a…well, hell, I don’t know. Big office building with chain restaurants inside?
“We couldn’t leave him there, man,” my partner said. “He was going to get his ass kicked or run over, and that would take a lot longer than booking him for public intox.”
“Well, how the hell do you ever expect a drunk to learn to fend for himself if we keep holding his dirty-ass hand like this? Children have to stop crawling someday.” My partner was right, of course, but I still had every reason to be annoyed. I was off starting tomorrow and had a free breakfast at Wally’s on McCallie waiting on me, and that was shot to shit thanks to what’s-his-name back there.
“Hey, sir,” said an unsteady voice from the backseat. “Can you turn the A/C on back here?”
I raised an eyebrow in acknowledgement even though I wasn’t facing him. I didn’t have to talk; I was working, and he was my job. I reached down to turn the fan up a few notches since the A/C was already on, but then again, it always is in a police car.
“Thanks,” our customer said, which went ignored as words from the backseat often do. Who listens, unless the words are “You missed my gun” or “I think I need to go to the hospital”? One is obvious and the other means two to three hours tacked on to what is already an unnecessarily lengthy process.
“Too, shy shy,” my partner whispered randomly. “Hush hush, eye to eye…” His head bobbed as he recited this, but I didn’t even hear goofy shit like this anymore, it was so common. Our guy in the backseat looked on confusedly.
“They better not be backed up,” I interrupted. “Hannon’s working intake tonight and I swear to God, I can’t take another second of his mouth.”
“He’s a nice guy, man, just be patient with him.” He’d stopped humming ’80s lyrics.
“He thinks the moon follows him, Gary. That’s not ‘nice’, that’s crazy. He means that shit, and it creeps me out.”
My partner paused, because this was all true. In-shape smartass or not, it was undeniable and it was late in the shift for an arrest. We turned a curve too sharply, and our customer in the back fell over to his right and decided to stay there for a moment.
“Did you get Sarge the vehicle inspection info tonight?” Gary had wisely decided to change the subject.
“No, but I will. He’s probably milling around in Wal-Mart again anyway. What an asshole. At least somebody’s covering our team area tonight,” I said, hooking a thumb at my chest. “Why are we working if he’s not?”
“You don’t know what he’s doing right now, don’t sweat him.”
“Whatever. It’s still bullshit.”
“Hey!” said the louder but still shaky voice from the back seat. “How weird. You’re just like everybody else! Your bosses suck, your pay sucks….wow, I thought you’d be all serious and this would be like TV. You’re just…regular people, though.” He paused, and apparently then looked inward. “Am I going to make bond? I think I’ll get fired over this.” Another pause. “I’m screwed.”
My partner glanced back briefly without ever moving his eyes, and said, “Yeah. Yep.”
This poor guy was in the back seat, headed to jail. The proverbial big house, the “clink”, and in all this is something that being chained up and having your freedoms removed rates as a “Pretty Big Deal” to most folks. But despite the emotional charge, his hosts were rocky islands well acquainted with travelers such as he. And accordingly, apathetic as hell towards his plight. He was just another docket number.
“Come on, man,” my partner said to me. “Cheer up. I’ll buy breakfast.”
“We’re eating breakfast?” said the soul in the backseat. “I don’t think I can eat. I think I need to go to the hospital.”
And at that, I locked eyes with my partner as we clenched our jaws, because at that our guest finally gained his identity amongst us, and we were suddenly none too pleased with it.
What is a big deal to you, is a big deal to you. But bear in mind…no matter how big an issue it may be, no matter the repercussions for you, there are going to be many people who simply do not give one shit, and odds are, the ones in the seat ahead of you will be at the front of that line.
Farewell, traveler. Pack your bags if you wish, but leave room for empathy. Call your mom, your wife, and your girlfriend from jail if you need that…for it does not live here in the Police Crown Victoria.