Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Black Smoke Rising

        I drove into work during a recent heat wave.  For us in Los Angeles that means temperatures exceeding 100 degrees.  I know Phoenix, you are not impressed.  If Arizona were Iraq, well,you see, life can get worse.
        As I drove up the freeway off-ramp, I saw a column of black smoke rising very near to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  I wondered, at first, if it were a terrorist attack.  I do not know if that is me as an American with 9/11 forever etched into my conscience or this job.  I did not think it was a diesel motor starting up, like the kind that is in the train yards.  I did not think it might be a car fire.  My very first inclination was that it might be a bomb that just exploded.  I did my best to fight off the feeling I might be immediately deployed to this black smoke rising the moment I clocked in.
        Working myself into knots and becoming stressed in anticipation of what awaits me out in the field happens a lot.  There are times I hear something on the radio and think it might be the nextcall I do.  It could be anything in the range of an officer involved shooting, a major crime, or a giant pile up of cars.  I have been to all of these situations often enough to know what they look like just by hearing about them.
Reaction is always a matter of degree.  Screaming about your bad fries is not appropriate, although it does happen a lot.  Hollering your lungs out to warn everyone of a fire or bomb, okay.  You get a good citizen certificate from me.  
I do my best to keep these odd events from taking over my sense of well-being.  I have come to understand burn out; it can happen to anyone, anywhere.  It has happened to a loved one.  She had that one ‘last case’ and could take no more.  The unsung heroes of my day are those in child protective services.
column of smoke could derive from something nice like a BBQ.  Maybe that could be my lesson.  I will try to learn -- no, unlearn the trigger that sets my reaction to negative at firstblush.  I sure as hell better or one day my head will explode in a column of smoke once the steam stops spewing from my ears.  
We are all keepers of something tragic, something wonderful, something awesome, something inspiring.  There, that is three positives to one negative.  If I did not write this, I would never have seen that.

No comments:

Post a Comment