Sunday, February 13, 2011

30 things: Day 7

Day 7- a picture of someone/something that has the biggest impact on you.

This picture was taken sometime in 1998. I was a sophomore in high school and had just become a police cadet. No one in my family was in law enforcement, but my youth pastor at church was a cop and I really looked up to him. He used to tell us cop stories with excitement and exhilaration, but always, always he included a lesson, a character reference, and they were inspiring. I wanted to be part of that.

When I started as a Cadet, I had full intentions of becoming a police officer. I changed uniforms and badges 3 times and 13 years later, I still work for the same department, hold the same oath, but I have changed a lot.

In becoming a Police Cadet, I became a Police Intern, and after a dicey time with lack of staffing and a temporary assignment in the Dispatch Center, I became a full time police/fire dispatcher and 911 operator at the ripe ol' age of 21 years old. Over the years, on my end of the phone or radio, I have been a parent, a counselor, a shoulder to cry on, a last ditch effort, the call you make when you're at the end, a medical provider, a life-saver, a calming voice, a reassurance, a punching bag, the dog catcher, the mayor, the time keeper, the bee name it, I've heard it, handled it, questioned it.

Having a career at 21 years old has allowed me to buy mostly everything that I've ever wanted, travel the world, buy my childhood home at 23 years old, buy a very expensive, very large SUV of my choice without as much as a co-signer. I jut walked on the lot as a 23 year old and picked a very blinged out car and even when the dealer flinched at my age and lack of male-presence at buying a car alone as a woman, I drove off that lot and didn't even look back. Go, single girl moment, go!

But then there's the mental, emotional, and physical toll that this 24-hour job takes on one. After years of conflict resolution, emergency, and being on ultra alert for anything that could happen at any time, I am tired. I'm worn. I remember the mom that killed her daughter with and overdose on blood pressure medication, the early morning cries from the father who's healthy baby boy suffocated in his sleep, and the newborn that was found on the Jr High running track by a couple of young boys who knew to run home and call 911. They saved a baby's life that day.

I have regrets. I regret missing weddings, parties, get togethers. I regret not having enough balance in my life for the first few years that I lived to work and didn't work to live. I regret being so career minded and less love-life minded. My back, my neck, any my shoulders carry a lot of stress and it's hard to get it to melt away and stay away.

I have a hard time being guilt-less just sitting and being quiet and peaceful. I need to work on that.

But nonetheless, I have a job that pays me very well, a flexible schedule, senority to get the vacation time that I want, a fair amount of job security, quite a bit of career and life experience that does translate pretty well on paper and in real life, and although, it's a very disconnected existence in this moment, I am part of something much bigger than me or this solo department.

Wether or not I continue and retire as a 30-year dispatch veteran, in the good, the bad, and the otherwise, this career, this place, this badge, and these patches on my sleeves have had the most impact on my life.

Well...the most impact so far. I'll get back to you on that if I ever find the love of my life or ever have his baby. I'll be sure to tell you right away if that happens!!!


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