Lovely Rita???

I’ve always had a bit of “What the heck, why not do that?” type of spirit in me.  Funny thing is that I was extremely timid and terrified to speak much less do crazy things.

I’m not talking about jumping off buildings or airplanes and other such physical feats.  I’m talking more about comfort zones.  The older I get I think the good Lord uses these situations to get me out of my hiding places.

Here is one such story:

I was minding my own business working as a high school secretary at a small private school.  It was frustrating and a bit boring for me.  I cried out to God regularly.  The pay was way too low for all the frustration that came along with the job.

One day, while I was being trained on the computer for my position, a man walked into the office and said to me and the administrator, “Hey.  Know anyone who would like a part-time/temporary job typing?”  My co-worker looked at me and then at him and she said no.  He said it paid ten dollars an hour.  I said I’ll do it.

Well, I asked where and he told me one of the local Police Departments.  One of the secretaries was ill and they were behind on typing statements for the detectives.

What have I got to lose?  I was told to go the the PD and have an interview first.  You have to understand that I knew nothing about police.  I came from the hippy movement where they were not so affectionately referred to as pigs.  I never had a ticket or an arrest.

I found myself sitting in a tiny foyer waiting for my interview.  It smelled like gun oil.  A woman in uniform  popped her head out of a door and said they would be with me in a minute.  I almost ran.  I was way out of my comfort zone.

I was escorted into the tiniest, most cluttered office for two people that I have ever seen.  The officer who told me about the job was no where to be found.  I sat before a woman Chief of Police and a Captain.

It was awkward for both of us.  They basically sized me up and felt I was great for the job.  So I proceeded to interview them.  Then, the Chief said I had the job but wanted to tell me one thing.  It went something like this:

“Because of the nature of police work, well, it kind of puts a, well, sort of stress….. Our stress level can be high and therefore we, well, we say things like, uh…….”

I ended her thought process with “you curse a lot?”  She said,  “Yes.  Is that a problem?”

I realized the man who told me about the position told them I was a Christian.  Apparently they were concerned about the curse thing.  I then told her, “No problem here.  Quite understandable.”  I watched her shoulders drop as she let out a deep breath.

Little did I know what this job would lead to.  At first I came in in the evenings and popped on a set of headphones and situated a foot pedal under the desk and figured out really fast how to work a dictaphone.  Night after night I would listen to interviews between detectives and victims or subjects.  AKA Perpetrators.  AKA slime balls…….. you get the picture.

The thing about detective statements is that every word must be typed (they have since moved to audio for most cases).  These statement will be filed away into case files and some used in court for the harder cases.

Let me tell you that I heard things I wish I hadn’t and I even heard things I couldn’t spell or even knew what they meant.  I just knew I didn’t want to know.  The best thing was…… I had the ability to delete from my thoughts most of what I heard by the time I got home each night.

Well, as time went on it began to be difficult to do both jobs.  A few months later the same man came to my office at the school and asked if I would consider being a summer cop.  What the?  I looked at him and asked if he knew how old I was?  He said no but continued on.  After I said yes he told me I would have to go to the Police Academy for ten days.  What?

Long story short I found myself in men’s khaki uniform with a tie, sitting up front in a classroom full of 18-19 year olds learning how to do…. something.  I was handed a PR-24 night stick and a can of pepper spray and learned how to use them and was peppered sprayed myself and handcuffed and……….. arg.  All this training to walk around our little beach town in the summer and check for expired parking meters.

Yes.  I became a full fledged Class I Police Officer – AKA – Meter Maid.  Oh, and did I tell you I was fifty-one years old and menopausal?  Yup.  Out of comfort zone??  I’ll show you out of comfort zone!

I quit my boring, low pay school job and went for it.  After summer I became a school crossing guard and then back to the academy, as a civilian, to learn 911 Dispatching.

Then sadly, the secretary passed away and they offered me the full-time Records Clerk job.  Ahhh.  8am-4pm five days a week.  Health benefits for the family and paid holidays and sick days.  I loved it.

All this to say that if you truly want to do something, you can.  I wasn’t looking for this.  Some of the more narrow minded officers thought I was a woman’s advocate and wanted to prove I could do anything a man can do.  Good grief.  I am for a lot of woman’s rites but I know I can’t or don’t want to do everything a man can do.

And then there were the officers who became my friend and even looked out for me.  What a great group of people, police officers.  I know there are some out there who aren’t. But I’m talking about those who are amazing men and women who really care about people and do their best to help above and beyond the call of duty.

So when the day came where we lost our daughter, who was the first to respond?  Yes, the officers I worked with.  They were amazing.

So go ahead and step out of your comfort zone.  It’s never easy.  I still cringe when I have to come out of hiding.  But embracing the uncomfortable is an amazing feeling of accomplishment.  I know that because of that job I am more of the person I was meant to be.  I also know I touched lives there in ways that no one else could.

I encourage you to jump in when the prompting comes.  Life is an adventure!  You CAN do it!

standing on the corner stopping cars - a beach run that day - runners first!
standing on the corner stopping cars – a beach run that day – runners first!
Local paper thought it fun to take my pic! Not sure they liked me......
Local paper thought it fun to take my pic! Not sure they liked me……


Cate B

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