Scratchy Glitter

Observations for the easily irritated.

Category: Stab From the Past

The Second Secret

This is what we call posting semi-regularly. (I am trying to ignore Cat Esmerelda yelling for attention behind me.) (In case you thought cats were low-maintenance.)


What else were you expecting?

In analyzing How My Job Affected Me & Why I Blog About It–most dispatchers want to be perceived as Caring Professionals. We do care, of course–we want the bad guy to be caught and the baby to start breathing again. But our management likes to tell us, “Imagine that it’s your friend or family member calling when you answer 911.” It doesn’t work that way. It cannot work that way. Emergency-services people among themselves have a dark sense of humor. Those who can’t develop one don’t last past training. (I do remember one trainee who used to lecture her trainers about their attitude. Just think of how that went over.)

That being said, I’ve heard colleagues say that this job has made everyone cry at one time or another. (I guess that’s why the restroom floor has a drain, to dispose of dispatcher tears.)  But I have never cried because of work. (Cursed, yes.) However, it’s also said that everyone who’s been doing the job for any length of time has a Call That Haunts Them. I actually have one of those, and that’s the second secret. No one has heard this story before but Rom.

It was while we were still downtown. I was the calltaker. (We had only one back then–quaint, isn’t it?) I took a suicide call.

Now suicide calls–the ones made by the actual suicidal person, not by family members or friends–have always been my most-hated part of the job. I never felt like I knew what to say, and the consequences of saying the wrong thing might be terrible. This guy had stabbed himself in the abdomen with a screwdriver, then regretted it and called 911. And he was fading fast, and could not remember his address.

This was in the 80’s, when we did not have even the rudimentary GPS capabilities we have now. The guy could give me the numerics of his address–and did so repeatedly–but he could not remember the name of the street. I kept asking, but every time I asked, he just repeated the numbers and trailed off. Time was running out, and I was frantic to get the information. I felt so helpless, and kept thinking, If he can remember the numbers, why can’t he remember the street?, and I kind of snapped at him.

Eventually, his brother called in and gave us the address, and we got everybody out there, but by then it was too late. Ever since then, I’ve wondered, if I hadn’t spoken to him irritably, would he have been able to remember? I suppose it’s equally possible that my sharp tone might have jolted him out of his daze. But anyway, I wish I’d managed to remain professional throughout, which surely would have improved the chances.Oh well.

I also had some of the usual silly stuff to write, but it doesn’t really fit well after this, so I will just leave it for now.

Oh, in case anyone was wondering what was my most-favorite part of the job–that would be monitoring the tactical channel on SWAT callouts.




True Confessions + Some Actual Content

I’m going to tell you a secret. Actually, three secrets, but the other two will have to wait. Only then can we move on as a nation.

I’ve been trying to figure out if this blog is still viable now that I’m retired and no longer able to provide content that you couldn’t get anywhere else. Or that you weren’t getting anywhere else, more precisely. Which brings us to the secret, of sorts.

I never thought this blog would make me famous, since I’m not insane. However, I did think it might attract a wider readership of fellow 911 dispatchers. Toward that end, someone more publicity-minded than I am (well, that could be anyone, couldn’t it?) linked to this blog on a dispatch Facebook page so that others could view it. I received my highest readership that day, some 360 people. That was a big surprise to wake up to. The bigger surprise was that all those extra readers never came back. They checked it out once and decided it wasn’t for them.

I’ll discuss why that might be so in the next post, but in the meantime, if you noticed a point at which S.G. lost momentum, and I could no longer be counted on to post regularly, that would be why. Nick, if you call me a “poor thing” again, I will…well, I don’t know what I’ll do. You’ll have to check back with me later.

I remember when I couldn’t wait to get home and post all kinds of exciting stuff about my less-than-exciting life. I still get ideas, but I tend to lie down and wait until the urge passes. BUT NOW…


–“Why you gotta be so cruel? I’m gonna marry you anyway.” Always a good idea.

–“Marry you no matter what you say.” I believe that’s illegal.


“Sun’s out, buns out!” That’s illegal, too.


I don’t read my daily horoscope, but mine must have said “Taureans will have trouble accessing public restrooms.”

At CVS, they’d put up the “No Public Restrooms” sign in front of, well, their public restrooms, as they do at unpredictable intervals. (Whenever they see me coming, for all I know.) It actually says, “No Public Restrooms–Please Don’t Ask,” which infringes on my freedom of speech.

At Walgreen’s–well, if you smell an almighty stench as soon as you turn into the hall leading to the restroom, you know not to go in there.

At Thornton’s, the women’s room had a sign saying “Closed for Cleaning.” Feeling a bit desperate by now, I slipped into the (empty) men’s room. When I came out, I saw a mother and daughter waiting for the Cleaning to come to an end. The little girl said, “Mommy, that lady came out of the men’s room!” I went and got my fountain drink (thus beginning the cycle all over again), glanced back, and saw mother and daughter emerging from the men’s room, looking a good deal more relaxed.


On another occasion at Walgreen’s (see, this is what happens when I post regularly, so be careful what you pray for) (if anyone was in fact praying for this), whoever keeps mischievously locking one of the stall doors from the inside (I’m guessing a poltergeist) had again done so. I thought, What this situation requires is someone able and willing to slither under the door and unlock it. So I did. It meant that my clothes acquired bathroom cooties, which makes them ritually impure until they’re laundered, but two-stall functionality has been restored. I expect a plaque on the stall door for my efforts.


…having dropped a brand-new shoe in the toilet. So that shoe now has toilet cooties (even though the toilet was clean), which will not be removed until I get caught out in the rain wearing those shoes.

OK, I’m tired of this topic. Time to resume arguing with A Certain Person about whether Nick is adorable or not.


Now It Can Be Told

This page took so long to load, it was as if the computer was asking, “Are you sure you want to do this?” Well, I’m not sure I should be doing it. S.G. has just lost its original reason for being, after all, and may turn out to be flimsy and pitiful without work stories, but I’m pitiful without something to write, so here you are, like it or not.


I own a light blue ball cap with rhinestones on it. I wore it to church today–it was only the second time I’ve worn it. I looked at myself in the mirror, and thought the fit was a bit odd, but Rom has owned ball caps that had some type of stiffener in the front panel and fit in a similar manner, so I didn’t think anything of it. When I got home and took the hat off, I realized I had never taken the cardboard insert out of it that had kept it from looking droopy on the hook at Walgreen’s. By the way, the first time I wore this hat was to a party at Nick’s place. Obviously he didn’t notice anything amiss, or he’d have laughed until he cried (if that is indeed possible).


My exit-interview form (they didn’t give me an actual interview, just a form) said, “What was the best thing about working for the City?” and I wrote “Never a dull moment!” Then I thought, No, I’m supposed to say, “Helping people”! But “never a dull moment” is what first came to mind, and so it shall remain.


Namely, my coloring-book progress. I have dealt with creepy moths and dragonflies, and explored the differences between yellow-green and green-yellow. The author’s introduction said, “You may find some of these patterns too intricate to color each small space. Feel free to color the whole larger area and just let the pattern show through.” That is such a load off my mind. It tells you something that with many of the pictures, I preferred to write captions or dialogue for them, rather than color them.


…which is the new name for D., since Rom says she has arms like a T. Rex. I didn’t notice that myself, but it has entertainment value.


–That s’mores (had by me for the first time!) (Nick: “I can’t believe you never had them.” WELL, I DON’T GO CAMPING, SO WHERE WOULD I HAVE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO TRY THEM?) are better without the chocolate. Also that I have a talent for toasting marshmallows, which, like my talent for miniature golf, is due to a watchful patience that I have yet to display in any other areas of life. Perhaps I can take up a second career as a sniper. DID YOU KNOW? They make square marshmallows now for this purpose! For s’mores, I mean, not sniping.

–That I do not, in fact, know enough to come in out of the rain, but neither did anyone else at this event. We just sat there eating in the rain. Roughing it.



Day 1: Over and Out

I couldn’t get to sleep last night because I was too excited, then I couldn’t get back to sleep this morning because I was too nostalgic, so here I am. After dreaming that I took the wrong bus and ended up not knowing where I was, so I became a sort of feral person, going into people’s unlocked houses and stealing their food. This is my Plan B if retirement doesn’t work out.

The best I could do for a disreputable outfit turned out to be pants with a hole in them (but I wore matching underwear so you can’t tell where it is), an old bra I’ve been meaning to throw out ever since it turned dingy gray from being washed with jeans (I thought one time couldn’t hurt), a t-shirt that says “My Work Number Is 911,” because it never will be again, a cross Rom got me that I finally got the chain untangled to, a ring Rom got me that I normally wouldn’t wear to work because it’s too big to type with comfortably, and sandals which really make me hope I get a ride home because I can’t imagine walking a mile and a half wearing these. But in another way it’s a good thing, because I have a sore toe from cutting the nail too short. I also have another ugly toenail, because the damage done in the Alien Finger incident hasn’t completely grown out, plus I dropped a jar candle on it. (A Certain Person thanks me for this pedicure update.) So far, I have not been cold enough to put Security Blanket on my feet.


I hate the Indiana Department of Revenue. Either they screw up, or I screw up, every year, but you’ll never guess who ends up paying either way. Yes, that would be the person who just can’t figure out whether Rom’s Social Security is taxable. I’m dreading the taxes for this year. I may have to seek outside help.


I came in here to find an amazing cake with red and black roses and the picture of me from last Halloween (appropriate, since I started work on Halloween), in skull t-shirt, Currant Red lipstick (artfully blotted–my mother would approve), and a headband of red and black roses that I snagged from Walgreen’s. If they’d told me when I was a kid that someday they’d be able to decorate cakes with photographs….the future is here! Also, the cake says, “QUITTER–1984-2017” on it. As I noted last time, I do kind of feel like a quitter, even though I may have had a longer sentence, I mean tenure, than anyone here. Speaking of which, my exit interview form asked why I was leaving, I think the dates 10/31/84–5/31/17 probably speak for themselves.

I also came in to find a dozen red roses, with a card with no name and the sentiment “Now you have to carry these home! Leave and don’t come back!” Sound like anyone we know? It has the smell of Nick about it. Well, except that he doesn’t smell like roses. He smells like Right Guard Fresh Blast deodorant. And when I found out the Army only requires him to bathe once a week (seven times less often than the Dispatch SOP), I sent him a case of it for his birthday. That was 3 years ago, and he only used it up recently, which should tell you something.


…a pack of Strawber-Rita, which I had been wanting to try since seeing a commercial for it JUST LAST NIGHT. I’m tempted to surreptitiously try it right now, but it’s hard to open a can surreptitiously.


“We understand you’re like the historian of this place!” Upper Management said to me many years ago, beaming and thrusting a notebook of photographs into my arms before I could step back out of reach. What I was was someone who kept a file of press clippings about all the problems we were having back when we first consolidated. And someone who abused the city’s new email system with a newsletter of said problems (the ancestor of what you’re reading now) to a select list of subscribers. Upper Management also came to me once and said, “Why don’t you send your newsletter out to everyone, so we can all read it?,” causing me to turn a whiter shade of pale. Um, because you’re usually what I’m writing about? It occurs to me now that they may have known that perfectly well, and said that in the spirit of “P.J.’s going to tell us all what’s so funny!”

So anyway (taking a deep breath of rose), here’s assorted stuff that will probably only be interesting to people who’ve worked here. And which I’ve probably addressed in previous posts. History repeats itself, or we’re doomed to repeat it, or something.

DOWNTOWN, 1986-1990 (I spent 1984-1986 in Records.)

Before we consolidated, a police sergeant was the supervisor, and there were 3 dispatchers on duty–one calltaker, one on dispatch, and one on info (or, as it was called then, Radio). One of those sergeants would let someone go home after 0300. (I spent a lot of time on 3rd shift in those days, because, as a colleague told me, “With that attitude, you belong on 3rd shift.”) Another sergeant wouldn’t let you go home, but would let one of us nap in the employee lounge for the last half of the shift. (Strangest dreams I’ve ever had.) And yet a third would take all the non-emergency lines off the hook (you do know what that means, don’t you?), so the phone wouldn’t disturb us while we ate dinner. Which was brought by an officer in those days.

In 1990, we consolidated (it was a fashionable idea back then, in the time-honored tradition of We Can, So We Should). Our new Upper Management decided we weren’t allowed to leave the building on breaks. (We actually got breaks back then–none of that “only leave the room long enough to heat food and bring it back to your console” ethos that now prevails.) I would defiantly go across the street and sit on a park bench for half an hour, staring stonily at the Civic Center. We were also told we weren’t allowed to get drunk on our own time, in case we were needed for overtime.


‘”My grandson is being taken care of by my son’s girlfriend’s grandmother, and…”

–“He was injured in a fight with his girlfriend’s other baby daddy.” You know, baby daddy wasn’t even a thing when I started. As for other baby daddy…

–“What makes it a terroristic threat, exactly?” When you find out, let me know. Because that term predates 9-11. In fact, it usually starts with, “I’m from Kentucky.”


–They kept trying to get us in uniforms, but finally gave up when they realized they would have to pay for it.

–The assigned seating in here was not originally for greater efficiency, but because the people then in charge didn’t like the way people sat next to colleagues they liked and avoided others.

–We used to be able to trade positions, so if you didn’t want to be, say, info, you could trade with someone who didn’t want to be city dispatch.

–The wastebaskets next to the consoles have been here since the beginning. They are tiny because They thought that if we didn’t have big trash cans, we wouldn’t produce a lot of trash. You see how that worked out.

–I originally asked, “Who will clean the building when we leave the Civic Center and don’t have their cleaning people?” and was told, “Well, you’ll be expected to clean up after yourselves.”

–We originally had no snack machine out here because the people who were on duty when They asked didn’t want to be tempted off their diets. I was very annoyed when I came in and found this out. Currently, the only food that can be bought on-site is M&M’s. I have sometimes subsisted on them for a whole 8 hours. They must be eaten in this order: brown-yellow-green-orange-red-blue.


And I took the piece with the fattest crust, because one doesn’t retire every day. OK, I did that before, too.


Squirming out of these sandals. I’ve forgotten how annoying leather straps against my skin can be.

–Report from the Pet Food Center of a subject rapping at all the employees and foaming at the mouth. He then left with a woman pushing a stroller.


Song overheard at Thornton’s–“Girl, give in to me completely, stop holding back our love.” Baby mama in 3..2..1…


…and because I was fishing for compliments, I told Nikki the Tragically Hip that I had this story to tell. We were talking about when you mistakenly send your text to the person you were talking about at work.

Longtime readers, if any, may remember that I occasionally refer to someone called the Nemesis. This person started in Records after I did, transferred to Dispatch shortly before I did, and was then promoted to supervisor, which I resented, even though I had no desire to become a supervisor myself. (My feelings about promotion were, to quote Joan Jett, “I wanna see you begging then say ‘Forget it’ just for spite.” Yes, Nick, I know I also quoted those words to you, but that was in a different context. I don’t even want to think about an alternate universe where you were my supervisor.)

Because the Nemesis and I started on the department at about the same time, we were always sent to training, testing, etc., together, even though we detested each other. In fairness to her, since I don’t drive, whenever there was training up at the state police post, or the police academy near Indianapolis,  she was told to give me a ride. And room with me once we got there. It was like an episode from “The Office,” except that I’m not sure which of us was Dwight. I just know that one of us was.

During our days in Records, the Nemesis wore Forever Krystle perfume, a drugstore scent based on the “Dynasty” TV character. After she was promoted, she upgraded to department store scent and wore Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door. Now I don’t dislike perfume, quite the opposite, but Red Door is a potent scent, the sort you should just apply one spritz of and never reapply until the next day. And when I roomed with the Nemesis, I found out why we could smell her coming down the hall at work. She applied Red Door like it was spray tanner, from head to toe, for complete coverage.

I offer this background to give you some idea of the context. The Nemesis was a martinet and a micro-manager, and the atmosphere in Operations was tense and uncomfortable on any shift she supervised. We were deathly silent, except for the mad clicking of keys as we messaged each other around the room.


I had a work buddy (and regular reader here!) who I will unimaginatively refer to as D.T. We survived these shifts by messaging each other in between calls–I remember one lengthy exchange of “There’s a skeeter on my peter”  “Knock it off!”–I’m guessing for no other reason than because we’d been told that YOUR MESSAGES ARE PUBLIC RECORD, SO DON’T SEND ANYTHING YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO READ IN THE NEWSPAPER. Anyway, I sent something smart about the Nemesis–I don’t remember what or why, so I don’t know why I ended my message with “The winds of change are blowing,” but D.T. answered me back with “And they smell like Red Door.” Which, of course, revealed who we’d been talking about. Which became an issue when I somehow hit Print. You have never seen a person sprint across the room to a printer faster, so I could snatch it out from under her hand–“It’s OK, I got this”–I’m surprised she didn’t make me show it to her.

I guess you had to have been there. (I’m picturing Rom shaking his head at my immaturity.) But, of course, many of my readers were there. So they will also understand the undercurrent of hilarity when we received a teletype from another agency that a truckload of Red Door had been stolen.

Someone eventually complained about her perfume, and she started wearing Elizabeth Arden’s Green Tea instead, which is a much lighter scent. I actually felt a little sad about that. I’m sometimes tempted to buy a small bottle of Red Door to sniff and relive the moment. I wish her well in her retirement, which occurred a few years ago, but hope our paths don’t cross.

OK, I finally forced a confession out of Nick. He did indeed send the flowers. Also, the instructions with them say, “Keep away from fruits and vegetables.” Why, will they fight?


“Theft suspect left outta here with a bulge in his pants like he was King Kong.”

“Caller said her brother is acting a donkey.” I guess that replaces “actin’ a fool” and “clownin’.” Some time back, we had an epidemic of “monkey ass.” “Send the cops to get his monkey ass outta here!” That, by the way, is why there was a picture of the Six Flags guy pointing to a picture of a monkey on my locker. You had to have been there, too. Well, not at 6 Flags. I saw something on the news where a ride stopped with people stuck at the top for some long period of time. I would be unable to move or speak by the time they got me down.




Day 5: Ready To Quit Already

Very first call: “Someone is at the bus terminal trying to sell a rotten fish for $20.” Attempts to confirm the address were met with, “Well, you don’t have to get smart with me! How many bus terminals are there, anyway?” Who got smart first here, anyway? know how many bus terminals there are, but the person I was training didn’t, as I seem to be the only city employee who rides the bus. Speaking of which, I got on the bus the other day, and the guy behind me said to me, “I couldn’t believe that driver wouldn’t let you on the bus with your drink the other day! And then when you threw the drink out the door, that was great!” Yeah, that was a proud moment. AND SPEAKING of bus-related adventures, remember I mentioned the warning sign with the stick figure guy leaning against the back door of the bus, and then the drawing of that guy falling out the door, but you could tell by his posture that he was a smartass, and you were glad it happened? Well, I saw that guy in Real Life the other day. There were plenty of empty seats available, but he insisted on standing there with his arms folded and leaning against the back door of the bus. I waited breathlessly, but he never fell out. There is no justice in this world.

Oh, and now the would-be seller of rotten fish is calling in cussing us out. So we’ve managed to displease both sides of the controversy.


Officer’s comments on a run: “Subject wanted to know how to research the names of people who may have given him steroids as a kid, because he has small balls and a small dick.” It’s always someone else’s fault.


–Observed the 1-year anniversary of Alien Finger on the 20th. Alien Finger has apparently decided that 87% functionality is good enough. Its motto is, “I’ll do it, but I don’t have to like it.” I think it sensed my resentment in the first weeks after the injury, when I told Rom, “I almost wish they’d just amputate it.” (Having one finger that won’t bend, especially if it’s the longest one, makes everything from flossing your teeth to applying your deodorant difficult.) “But it wants to help,” Rom said, watching it attempt to curl into a halfway-natural resting position. Noble finger! Valiant finger! Please be like all the other dislocated fingers I hear about that end up just as good as new. After all, I had 5 months of surprisingly unpleasant therapy. (“I wish I could have been your therapist,” Nick murmurs wistfully.)

–Observed the 30-year anniversary of marrying Rom on the 22nd. As Nick said to me after meeting him, “You sleep with Gandalf!” Yeah, and you’d best remember that before you call me a Muggle again.


“‘All the iconic colors are here, from Macaroni & Cheese to Purple Mountain Majesties’? In my day, no crayon was called Macaroni & Cheese. Names like Green-Blue and Blue-Green were good enough for us. I’m just glad my favorite Periwinkle is still here. {Note: The 64 Crayolas of my youth were eaten by our basset hound. You can guess the outcome.}

Look how complicated these drawings are! I can’t fill them all in, I’ll never have time for anything else. OK, I’ll just fill in parts. But which parts?

OK, the first drawing is an octopus. I know! I can make it all the shades of blue there are. Start out with my favorite color. But I do have to use all 64 at some time or other. {“Do you have to use them all proportionately?” Rom asks, but he is just making trouble.}

Oh no, I colored over the line. I know! I’ll just color the spot next to it with a dark color, and no one will know the difference. But not too dark, or the stripes underneath won’t show through like they’re supposed to. 

Well, I intended to color each arm of the octopus a different color, but I can’t figure out which arm is which. I should have started at the other end of the octopus. Wait a minute–I think there are too many arms here for one octopus. {This possibility troubled me greatly, and I had to stop and think about it for several minutes.}

And this is only the first page. I will keep you updated as I progress, if “progress” is really the word we want here.



Day 13: I Got Your Fortune Cookie, Baby

Yeah, this was supposed to be a workday, but…you know when you crack open a fortune cookie, you read your fortune, and then you add “–in bed”? Well, I sprained my toe. In bed.


Longtime readers (a few may still survive) may remember how Rom once broke the bedroom window of our apartment downtown during an amorous session. This contributed to our loss of the damage deposit, but the best part was the landlord asking how the window got cracked, and Rom stammering, “Uh, from all the–wind we had in that storm the other night.”

Well, now that we’re homeowners, we can break all the windows we want (unless Nick decides we’re disturbing the peace and arrests us). But those hypothetical longtime readers may also remember the time that our candle (we always do it by candlelight) set off our smoke alarm. (I still fondly remember one night dispatching the fire department to someone’s house in response to “a smell of burning rubber in the bedroom.”)

Which brings us to last night. We’d just gotten up afterwards, congratulating each other on our mutually rewarding experience, and I said, “But my toe is hurting for some reason.” Then there’s the moment when you look down and think, “Did it always look like that?” It was bent sharply at a weird angle. Not as weird as Alien Finger, but still. It was already beginning to swell, and of course I thought of all the times I’d read that you can break a toe without even knowing it. And you especially wouldn’t even know it if you were, well….Let’s just say I was bracing my feet against the sideboard of the bed.

Well, this morning it was a lot better–just a little swelling remaining–but I decided walking a mile and a half to work was contraindicated. I will try to do better tomorrow.

Day 30: The Final Countdown

(You should say that like they do in the song by the same name.)

Somebody asked, “Are you counting the days till retirement?” I realized I was not, and a person such as myself certainly should be doing so. But I’m not counting down how many days are left in my employment, since I have vacations in the next 2 months, but how many days of actual work are involved. Hopefully, having to report back each day will ensure semi-regular posting (and drinking during vacations will probably ensure the rest).



“Caller at business hired a homeless subject to hold a sign, and he is now threatening them.” You know, you would think holding a sign would require the least vetting of any job.

“Suspect said he’s been tased before and knows to wear extra layers of clothing, also he could pull the darts out and run fast.” Let’s test that theory, shall we? One more reason to plan my outfits in advance!

“Subject states he is military police and has more power than the police.” Let’s test that theory, too!

“I got whiskey poured in my eye and I can’t see.” Well, I got Boone’s Farm wine poured down the front of my shirt once. The guy then tried to clean it up with his tongue. I should have told my caller that.

Officer’s comment on traffic stop: “You can’t be driving on a suspended license in a car covered in blood.” It turned out to be fake blood, but that only makes it more puzzling.


McDonalds at St Joe/Maryland has been remodeled. I was wondering if they’d go for the slick gray cyberpunk look of the one at Lloyd/Rosenberger, but no. It looks like what we thought looked modern in 1959, but in a 70’s color scheme. If I get dementia, they could just set me down there and I’d feel right at home, although I wouldn’t be sure exactly which past decade I was in.

McDonald’s is the place everyone ends up at eventually, so it’s like Life’s Rich Pageant in there–mostly Norman Rockwell, but with a few fringe elements. (I suppose I’d qualify as a Fringe Element, but only on close inspection, and I don’t invite close inspection.) When I last went there, there was a crowd at the counter, and an old guy apparently having some kind of medical episode, so I didn’t anticipate getting my order taken any time soon, and went to Taco Bell across the street instead. (I usually prefer Taco John’s for my infrequent Mexican food urges, but they’re farther down the street, and it was starting to rain.)

The clientele at Taco Bell tends to be younger and more redneck, and the music being played was appropriate. Weirdly, though, it was appropriate for when I was younger. Not that I would have heard it at a fast-food place–businesses didn’t pander to youthful tastes in those days–but I would have heard it blaring from passing cars as I walked down the street in my halter top and bell-bottom jeans. The Stones’ “It’s Only Rock & Roll.” “Dreams I’ll Never See” by Molly Hatchett. (I had to Google that, not having thought of that song for all the intervening years.) Then I thought–I know those opening chords very well–Blue Oyster Cult’s “In Thee,” which I’ve never heard when I’m out. Maybe I should go to Taco Bell more often.



“Now you’ll have lots of time for that ridealong!”

must think fast…“He’d probably just refuse, out of spite.”

“No, I think he’d probably accept–out of spite!”

Good thing he’s only imaginary.



This new radio system sounds like it’s recording what I say, even when I’m not on the phone or air. But that couldn’t be true, could it?





True Confessions

{Note: There was originally a line here that I edited out, and I can’t figure out how to make the white space go away, so I substituted this line in its place. Carry on.} {Yeah, I know this is more than one line, but I care insufficiently to do anything about it. Proceed.}


On the Anonymously Autistic blog, where I’ve been loitering lately, I found the official diagnostic definition here. (<== Look! Did you see that? I made a link! My first ever! This Blog School is turning out to be worthwhile after all! Maybe I better restrain my enthusiasm until I publish this and see if it actually works.) Leaving aside the obsessive way in which I carefully checked off each of the listed attributes and rated them for level of severity, I think I can put your doubts to rest with two simple observations:

  1. I rock back and forth when I listen to music. They call this “self-soothing” behavior, which I originally took issue with, thinking, “How would I feel if I didn’t do it? Oh–nervous and twitchy. OK.”
  2. As I walk along {“I wonder what went wrong, with our love, the love that was so strong…” Sorry. Too much listening to music.}, I often recite sequential lists of dates. I will not bore you with how these dates are selected.
  3. OK, make that 3 observations: I have difficulty recognizing people’s faces if I encounter them outside of their accustomed settings–colleagues outside of work, parishioners outside of church, Nick pretty much everywhere, etc. (I worked with that poor thing IN THE SAME ROOM, ON THE SAME SHIFT, FOR A YEAR–or so he claims–and don’t remember it.) My husband is the only exception. So if you run into me at Walgreen’s, or follow me down the street in your vehicle hoping to give me a ride, expect a blank stare initially. The only way to avoid that is to live with me for years. No, I’m not inviting you to move in.

Where the “high-functioning” thing (or maybe just “maturity”) comes in is, I’ve learned to not display my weirder traits in public, and I’ve also mastered Life Skills 101 (although I’m not sure about Life Skills 201). For example, not knowing how to dress properly got me in trouble at 3 different jobs. Since there were no dress codes to tell me exactly how to proceed, I just wore what I did when I wasn’t working. Back then, that involved lots of see-through shirts, halter tops, and black goth-y stuff that hadn’t yet become fashionable. So one supervisor told me, “Just because there’s no dress code doesn’t mean you can wear whatever you want.” See, I’d thought that was exactly what it meant. The “obvious” alternative–looking around to see what other employees were wearing–simply never occurred to me. How did I eventually discover that tactic? I read it in an article. Combine that sort of thing with my belief that making sustained eye contact with anyone will turn me to stone, and you can see why employers used to edge me out as soon as they could figure a way that wouldn’t involve paying me unemployment benefits.

Along with Life Skills, a structured and/or familiar environment helps a great deal, so I know just what to expect. I also have various Rules, so I don’t take forever to make decisions like, Where should I sit on this bus? What color underwear should I put on today? (Although I actually make those particular decisions in the reverse order from the way I just listed them.) (You know, it JUST OCCURRED TO ME that I could solve that one problem by just buying all-white underwear. You learn something new every day!)

Also, here (again from Anonymously Autistic) is an example of how one can “build” small talk “from the ground up,” so to speak.

Well, that was somewhat embarrassing, but I’ll live. Enough about me and why I’m weird. I’ve already dawdled over this post for too long, afflicted with “but what if they don’t want to read about my problems?” Well, if you don’t want to read about my problems, YOU’RE IN THE WRONG PLACE.


I have scratchy glitter on me from carrying Christmas packages. This is not optimum.


I’m happy because I discovered rose-scented Vaseline for my lips.


“Real-Life Grinch Caught On Video Stabbing Inflatable Snowman.” Yes, Yes, YES!!!



School’s Out Forever

The musically-astute will recognize my I GOT NO GOALS statement in the previous post as a take-off on Alice Cooper:

“And we got no class!

And we got no principals!

And we got no innocence!

We can’t even think of a word that rhymes!”

But they are more clever than you think, given the double meanings of “class” and “principles” illustrated above. Speaking of which, I always remember the different spellings from the trick they taught us in school, “When you mean the principal of a school, it ends with ‘pal,’ because the principal is your pal!” Even as a kid, I thought that was lame. Speaking of which, I remember senior year of high school, standing in the hall during one of the lunch periods (the school was big enough that we had more than one) talking to the assistant principal, who was in charge of attendance and discipline. He pointed out the window to the courtyard, and said, “You see those kids standing around? Half of them are supposed to be in class right now.” I myself was supposed to be in class right then, and snickered inwardly at his ignorance. Of course, I now realize that he was probably perfectly aware of that, and that’s why he brought it up. (And for those of you who are thinking, “Why, World Leader! We didn’t think of you as the class-cutting type!,” let me just say that the class I was cutting was gym, and I didn’t start cutting it until a classmate pointed out that I was failing it anyway, so why bother to show up? It actually hadn’t occurred to me to skip it until then. And you see what a wuss I was even so–I didn’t even leave the school grounds, just prowled the empty halls.)

SPEAKING OF WHICH, after reading my account of meeting up with Nick unexpectedly and not noticing him, Rom said, “You’re a strange person.” But what does he know? He’s only lived with me for 36 years.


For once, I mean that literally, and not as arcane symbolism. Speaking of which, FanBaser and sort-of-coworker T. Rex reports that she knew about me when I started in Police Records, as “the Record Room intellectual.” I guess every Record Room needs one. And it sounds more distinguished than “the one who doesn’t wear a bra,” which I also was.

What You’ve All Been Waiting For


“What we’ve been waiting for is a damn post,” they interrupt testily. “Didn’t you say something about trying to write every day…again…”  Well, I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. “Then why didn’t you write about it?”  It never stops, nevernevernever stops…

Ahem. My birthday was Saturday, and featured a surprise VISIT FROM NICK, with his mate and pair of spawn in tow, all in red shirts. I don’t think that man knows how to dress unless some type of uniform is involved. (No, Nick, I will not take fashion advice from someone whose shoes fall apart.) I also got a SURPRISE HUG from the same individual, which mildly alarmed me, and a birthday card congratulating me on turning 85, which just goes to show that a beast can’t count. Seriously, I’ve always wished there were specific cards for all ages–“To A Special 37-Year-Old…” Did you know that Rom once thought he would die at 37? See, he’s not always right. I once dreamed I died at 83, on March 16 of whatever year that would be. (Now who can’t count?) I ought to sign up for one of those services that send you an email from yourself on a specified future date. On March 16 Whatever Year, I’d read “Have you died yet?” and promptly die of fright. I would die as I’d lived, namely, ironically.

Thornton’s gave me 10 cents off a gallon of gas for my birthday, showing a lamentable lack of knowledge of my buying habits. Lands’ End gave me a 20% off code, which I will not use to buy green gingham shorts, unless I happen to be drunk at the time.


Stephen Colbert informs us there is currently a national surplus of cheese. Rom & I are doing our best to address this, thanks to a recent shipment of Wisconsin cheese from my sister. You all need to help out and eat an extra 3 pounds of cheese a year, or the extra cheese will…get moldy, I guess. Moldier.



In spite of my charming/disarming tell-all tone in this venue, it is my habit to keep my personal plans to myself, in case…well, in case someone uses the information against me, I suppose. It’s like when I’d go with colleagues to the FOP Club in the 90’s. I’d drink too much, turn sullen, then call a cab, slip out and wait for it on the corner, without telling anyone I was leaving. You know, being mysterious and stuff. Or the way I never want to tell my co-workers which shift I’m picking until the last minute, even though I always pick the same one anyway. SO, recently I caught myself thinking, “I wish I could tell my FanBase what I’ve been doing lately,” and realized, What’s stopping me? It’s my own blog, after all.

“…which nobody will be reading if you don’t get to the point,” they point out. 


What I’m getting at is, when I turn 62 at this time next year, I’m planning on retiring. (I already feel panicky, like I should qualify that–I mean, it’s always possible that the numbers won’t add up like I think they will, since I’ve already proven I can’t do math.)

I went to one of the retirement workshops sponsored by our pension fund. I ran into someone I used to work with, which was kind of embarrassing, in that “Well, what are you doing at this whorehouse?” sort of way. I also picked up a magazine called “The New Retirement,” put out by AARP, who ought to know, I suppose. It included an article about financial planning, which mentioned that a professional financial planner can help you come up with a plan for your pension and Social Security. You mean, other than letting them send me a check every month? Because that was my plan.

So this will be the last year of the Crisis In Progress department. I will now be a lame-duck dispatcher. I’ll be doing a bunch of stuff at work for the Last Time, probably getting sentimental about stuff like being yelled at on the phone. “No one will ever say they’re paying my salary again!” Perhaps I will become dangerous and yell at them on the phone. I hope to have a drunken retirement party–if you play your cards right, you may get the “House of the Rising Sun” karaoke I’ve been threatening for years. And if I take up skydiving in retirement, you’ll be the first to know.


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