The Police Wife Life Part II, When All Else Fails, We Laugh, by Melissa Littles
"But Officer...these aren't my pants!"
I'll start by saying if you haven't read "The Police Wife Life, Selfish Is Not An Option", you may want to prior to reading Part II. The original article was my attempt at bringing awareness to the daily trials and tribulations, compromises and sacrifices known to the average wife of a Police Officer. It was also written to remind us all that Police Officers are very much under-appreciated heroes, and to remind LEO's that their wives are very much the same. I had so many people tell me "oh, I just can't imagine living like that day to day, how do you do it?". Hopefully, in this installment of The Police Wife Life, we can shed more light on how it is done. For me, it involves patience, understanding, selflessness, a secure nature and independent strength. It also involves a dose of humor where you can find it. Putting all the craziness into perspective on a daily basis takes effort, and I have learned that everything seems easier if you can find something about the not so bad times to laugh about. Part II is in no way meant to be disrespectful of the serious side of being a police officer, what they go through each day or what the families of police officers live with each day. There is nothing humorous about the tragedies they face every day on the job or those impacted by those tragedies. There is certainly nothing funny about the anxiety the LEO's and LEO wives face knowing they are in harm's way on a daily basis. Part II is simply a light hearted take on the moments we can find in the crazy LEO life that help make it all a little easier to deal with. I hope this can be read in the spirit in which it is intended....because we can all use a little laugh every now and then.
THE UNIFORM:It all starts with the shift. To be married to a LEO is to know the meaning of the word meticulous. I'm not talking about a few little quirks here and there, I'm talking straight up, "you cannot be serious" perfectionist issues. Let's start with the uniform. I liken the adorning of the uniform to preparing a bride for her wedding. It is a methodical, meticulous endeavor which takes longer to accomplish each day than it takes our teenager to straighten her hair. There are more steps to the finished uniform than there are to completing a Rubik's cube. After the Under Armour and the vest and the uniform shirt comes the faux belt which holds the shirt in place. At this point, uniforming becomes a two man crew. I must hold the faux belt out a bit while the LEO pulls the uniform shirt taughtly down into place. Now we must look backwards into the mirror to make sure the folds of the shirt are just so and if not, of course, we begin again. This is NOT a good time to point out the gun belt and its contents are going to cover up anything close to that area of his shirt and no one will ever know the difference. This is NOT the point. It is the principal. A LEO principal. Each day I watch, as if Groundhog Day is replaying for the thousandth time, I have mixed emotions ranging from being inspired by the pride he takes in wearing the uniform just as it is meant to be worn, with honor and attention to detail, along with humorous emotions that my big strong LEO is acting uber metro as if he were cladding himself in a vintage couture Versace while preparing for a show at fashion week. If there is a moment of payback on my part, for any of the past week's disappointments, one of the best times to use your "revenge" card is after the dawning of the completed uniform. Once the Under Armour, vest, shirt, pants, boots, faux belt, Velcro belt, gun belt, keepers, glock and taser are all in place.......mention last night's chili when your LEO has only five minutes to get out the door to lineup. A LEO will only use the facilities in his own home and it takes an act of God to get out of the uniform.....paybacks of a LEO wife, and so it begins.
THE CRUISERWe call her "The Mistress". My LEO's 2009 Dodge Charger with a V-8 Hemi. She does things to him I could never hope to do. Although the Crown Vic was a good little lady to have by his side, let's face it, she had seen better days. It was a good run but when someone offers you a trophy chick that will not land you in divorce court, you're gonna jump on it. The Mistress came to us last summer and instantly scored the coveted first bay of the three car garage. I wish she would have arrived with a protective bubble wrap barrier, for anything which comes within 10 feet of The Mistress is considered enemy #1. The family SUV must be slowly brought in at an angle into the second bay and the toddler must exit the opposite side of the SUV as to not come into close proximity of The Mistress. The LEO has an incessant need to check the distance between the open driver door of the SUV to The Mistress to ensure there is no possibility of contact between the two. The Mistress is frequently pulled into the fresh air, to be bathed by hand, buffed and polished like the crowned jewel she is, all the while the poor SUV is left collecting dust and McNugget remnants while depreciating in value with no regard that this is our actual tangible property.
The PD recently started its own academy. Officers were assigned Rookies to accompany them on their shifts. I believe my LEO had brought The Mistress home two days prior to the day he was to have his Rookie ride along. Lineup begins at 6:45 a.m. We live approximately 3 minutes from the PD. As my LEO rushed out to the garage making sure he would not be late the first day he was assigned a rookie, the garage light revealed the revenge of the LEO wife. In the early morning hours, myself and the 16yr old snuck out to the garage and decorated The Mistress with so many toys it looked as if Toys R Us had vomited all over her. She had ring toss toys embellishing the antenna, Woody and Buzz Lightyear and assorted stuffed animals across the back windshield, ready for their ride along with the PoPo. There were plastic teething keys taped to the ignition and of course countless Happy Meal toys stashed in the light bar. The LEO became enraged at the defacing of The Mistress, quickly throwing things from her to the garage floor, grumbling at us about how NOT funny this was. As he sped off still growling out his window about his disappointment in our childish behavior, the LEO wife secretly chuckled to herself knowing full well there was still an entire replica of The Mistress taped to the push bar. A PoPo car on the PoPo car.....riding all over town, to the PD and ready for him to show off to his Rookie (insert snide snicker here).
There were jokes made about how The Mistress would eventually be broken in. Living in Oklahoma we are subject to mass hail storms and tornadoes. For every stormy day the LEO would have to leave the sanctity of the garage and expose his beloved Mistress to the elements, he was always so thankful for another day she would make it home without a ding or scratch or ping from hail. We all knew someday something would break in The Mistress. A high speed chase gone bad, a vindictive perp with a clear shot at her side. I knew eventually I would get the call and when I did, as much animosity as I had toward The Mistress, I felt bad for her, and for my LEO. Picturing him in the dark of night, leaving The Mistress on the side of the road to pursue a foot chase with a very elusive yet belligerent suspect. With the help of another officer they continued to close in on the perp when suddenly, acting crazed and confused, clearly high on some hallucinogenic drug, the suspect charged at the LEO's cruiser, throwing himself on the hood in a mad frenzy, impaling himself on the push bar with such force it crinkled the push bar into the hood as if it took no effort at all. I suppose in Oklahoma the risk of having your cruiser attacked by crazed cow is plausible, but even I did not see that one coming. It took hours for the LEO to get the cow residue off the cruiser, two days in the City garage and more grief from his fellow officers than he knew how to deal with. The LEO wife took no pleasure in the demise of The Mistress....none at all.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN NOT ALL SHOWS ARE COP SHOWS?For a society with so many self proclaimed cop haters, there sure are a lot of cop shows on tv. You may not notice this when not married to a cop but once you are, you soon realize there are NO other shows on tv other than cop shows. You will soon learn the justification of the LEO for the need in watching the mass of cop shows. There is the obvious reason for watching C.O.P.S....I mean, that is real life cop action. And of course, you have a duty to watch America's Most Wanted. Really, we all have a duty to watch John Walsh. And then there is The First 48. It is important to watch this show as a training tool, to keep your thinking skills up to par. There are of course all the CSI, Law & Order, and SVU shows. And you know it has nothing to do with the fact that the Texas Women of Broward County are all smokin hot cops, we REALLY need to watch that show to see how other departments in other cities operate. It's all about keeping your skills fresh, really. And yes, there are four other TVs in this house where the LEO wife could actually hold and operate the remote, but a LEO wife must utilize this time to actually be in the same space as her mostly absent LEO. And knowing as a LEO wife, you will watch each of these cop shows at least three times before your LEO stays awake for one full DVR'd episode, you have the added edge to get a little LEO wife revenge by announcing mid show "oh, by the way honey, it was the plumber with a led pipe in the basement....I saw this last night...twice". LEO wife paybacks...few but fun.
MUFASA AND THE WATERING HOLEThe LEO wife will learn to allow her LEO to be just that...a LEO, a LION, the King of the pack. No matter the circumstance, he will be on duty. Regardless of his shift, or the time or place, you will know, he is locked and loaded and ready for anything. I remember our last road trip to Houston, a truck full of Texas teens blew past us cutting us off in the process. Me being a Texas native, absolutely cracked up when the hubz instinctively reached for his badge and announced that "those stupid goat-roping b*stards are about to get some badge!". Really, your Oklahoma badge...in Texas? I didn't think so. We have been at the mall shopping for baby clothes and I have casually reached over to give him a little hug and knocked my funny bone on his glock...."you're packing?....at Gymboree?". Yes, Mufasa is ready.
BUT OFFICER, THESE AREN'T MY PANTS!One of the things that makes life as a LEO wife easier to deal with is hearing those things that can only be shared by a LEO with a straight face and understood by a LEO wife as actual truth with no exaggeration. Again, there is no humor in the daily tragedies most LEO's must deal with. There are though, times when they are able to walk into a situation, and walk out with a smile. In those times, they need that smile, they deserve it, and they must know the LEO wife could use it as well.
I have a few "you have got to be joking" moments. I think the top of the list has to be "Suicide Deer".....although Mistress Crushing Cow takes a close second for personal vindictive reasons. Suicide Deer was a call responded to after said deer plowed straight through a plate glass window of a house and proceeded to madly try room by room to escape, destroying everything in its wake. Again, this is in no way funny for the homeowner and I myself would have hunted Bambi down myself for trashing my house. But to hear the tale told by the husband and the other responding officer was quite humorous.
Hoarder House was a good tale. I don't know what it takes to actually have so much hoarding going on that live animals are lost and eventually cease to exist amongst the disorderly chaos, but the description of the hoarder home owner actually pointing out which room was the "cemetery" was quite the eye opening experience. There was a headstone in what used to be a bathroom, although no correlation between the two could be established.
Naked Dude at the Snow Cone Hut was no joke. This tale from a fellow officer's wife in Dallas who's LEO planned on picking up his toddler a snow-cone on the way home after missing his birthday party due to a DUI call. Instead he found himself delayed yet again in the 104 degree August heat in Dallas....with Naked Bob, who had arrived at the Snow-cone hut partially clothed, purchased 4 large "rainbow ribbon" cones, promptly disrobed and began to pour each delightfully chilling rainbow treat over his naked body in front of the South Dallas Baptist Church Senior Group who thought a refreshing treat after Sunday service was in order. Naked Bob liked to cool off in style.
Drug Deal Doogie is always a classic. He bought the drugs from an undercover just five minutes prior, he tried to sell the drugs to an undercover just five minutes later, but when apprehended Drug Deal Doogie has no idea why he is being questioned, he insists he is driving his homeboy's car which he had no idea was stolen and he is wearing his neighbor's cousins pants which he had no clue were full of crack. Why the Poleece continues to come down on Drug Deal Doogie is a mystery.
The stories are endless. It sometimes hits me that this is not normal, but always after I have heard it with no real reaction. I remember the day my LEO called me and said "Suicide Deer in progress, what do you want to do about dinner?" My thoughts went instantly to dinner, I remember asking later "did you say something about a deer?"
Being a LEO and a LEO wife is a continual roller-coaster of emotion. A Police Officer will have days he comes home with a heavy heart, one he will not share with his wife in an attempt to shield her from things he hopes she never has to know as real. Days he can come home and share a little bit of light hearted humor is a good day for both he and he his wife. In a world of constant uncertainty, finding a little humor goes a long way in the life of the LEO and the LEO wife. Days that a LEO wife feels neglected, stressed, overworked and under-heard, having her LEO come home and give her something to laugh about, along with a few minutes of "us" time is sometimes all we need. As we hear his chest rise and fall as the exhaustion takes over well before we have said all we needed to say.....we somehow gain the strength to let go of all the emotions, be grateful he is home, whether awake or not. We are able to take comfort in seeing him smile, if just for a minute, we are able to put it all into perspective, kiss his forehead, get his clothes in the wash and get ourselves ready to start it all again the next day.
Be safe out there.