Let me put you where I am. Well, that might be uncomfortable, since I’m occupying this chair and don’t really feel like fighting over it. I’m at work, settled in for a long winter’s shift. Got here at 7pm, getting off work at 7am. It’s currently o’dark thirty and holding. In front of me are four big ole computer screens. One is the police radio, one is the phone system, both 911 lines and normal police phones, and two screens are for the computer-aided dispatch computers, which keep track of where my cops are at all times. Okay, most times. Sometimes they go to Starbucks without telling me (or offering me a cup) but they shouldn’t do that. Right now I have two officers at lunch (breakfast, whatever), three in the green (available), and one sergeant somewhere in the building.
It’s a small room, with five chairs. There are only two dispatchers working right now — me and my late-night partner JoAnn. We’re a good team. We knit. We don’t gossip, except for things like the Peterson trial or current Jessica Simpson scandal. She keeps up with those types of things and fills me in when I need to be filled.
We have holiday lighting and decorations all over the room. A string of white-light icicles goes exactly three-quarters of the way around the room, which kind of drives me crazy, but it’s all right. All the regular overhead lights are off in deference to our desperate desire to sleep.
The radio in the break-room is set on a popular station — mostly today’s hit music (sigh) with a light smattering of Xmas tunes. Not so many Christmas tunes that I want to slit my wrists, just enough to seep into the brain and remind you that yes, you’re at work while everyone else is drinking spiked egg nog.
To my left are: My purse, my knit-kit, a half-done sock, a Clapotis pattern, a map of the city, an empty *$ cup, a lipgloss, and half a roll of toilet paper because my nose won’t stop running. To my right are: A city phone directory, an article on sweater design, a half bottle of water, a shaker of salt, and TJ’s peanut-butter filled pretzels. At my feet is a Honolulu Marathon bag that’s holding my novel (hey, I really didn’t notice how poetic that was until just now). My feet are propped up on an upside down recycling bin. I’m in uniform. We won’t discuss that.
Today, I’ll go see Lala for a minute (maybe two if she’s lucky), then go home and to bed. Up this afternoon to wrap and prep for the Christmas that I didn’t really see coming. I need glasses, apparently. Then back in at 7pm until 7am, when I’ll go home for a quick nap before getting on the road to drive home (5 hours south) for Christmas dinner.
Think of your public servants this weekend, people. It’s hard to be at work when you just want to be at home with your family and loved ones. And there are a lot of us out here — dispatchers, cops, doctors, nurses, EMTs, firefighters, security guards, bridgetenders…. I’ve run out. Sleepy. I think bridgetender is rather creative, actually. Oh! Pilots. Bus-drivers. I bet you get the picture now. Anyway. You know what I mean.
Truly, I’m happy to be here. It’s weird, but I am. ESPECIALLY since Rosa is picking up tamales tonight on her way to work from the best tamale place in the whole world (the history page is great). I don’t mind working. And I get to see my family on Christmas night, which is more than I’ve been able to in past years.
Did I mention I get tamales tonight? I’m not eating all DAY in preparation. Dude.
Merry Christmas, all y’all who celebrate it. Those who don’t, have a great Saturday. Hug yer loved ones, and tell them what they mean to you, and I’ll see you on Monday(ish).
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