Most mommas sternly warn their children about the one good time in jail and then they’re on own. I’ve officially had mine and someone else’s. I was arrested the other night. (Looks weird written), for “Driving While License Revoked”. I’m still trying to process the whole situation, and definitely knew instantly I would write about it. The situation begged to be written about. First, I thought for sure I would rain my written retribution down on the heads of the CMPD powers that be and finally expose that den of iniquity disguised as a police department for what it really was. After sitting and stewing in that for a bit I realized that no matter how jacked up the arrest was (and it was a lu lu), I had ultimately placed myself in this situation by not following through with/paying for a traffic ticket.
Besides I’m not a fan of making overall minor personal problems into international declarations of outrage against “the man.” Nine point nine eight times out of ten, “the man” is ourselves. On the flip side, I do think the matter could have been handled waaaay differently by the arresting officier (B. Harrison #4364 Troop N District A1)…
Our Boy Friday (or Officer Harrison if you choose) was excessively stern and borderline abusive. He did not state a reason for stopping me (i.e. I swerved, or I had a headlight out, etc.), followed me for approximately for a half mile which in itself was frightening being a woman alone driving at night and given the history of police officers and sexual assault in this city. When stopped I was asked where I had been (which since I was neither drunk nor high, was NONE of his business). As he proceeded he didn’t give me a chance to be cooperative. He shined his flashlight directly into my eyes several times then asked “what I had” in my car and looked around inside of it. The last time I checked I thought that was called an illegal search. The best was yet to come I would find.
Our Boy got down and dirty after a quick trip back to his vehicle. He told me to get out of my car, turned me around and cuffed me simply saying “your license is revoked”. Never once did he recite Miranda rights. He hyper flexed my arms behind my back, cuffed me and escorted me to his squad car while pushing me, pulling the back of my bra, and threatening me with a resisting arrest charge to boot! All this was highly unnecessary considering I never swore at him or even raised my voice.
As much as an asshole I think he is…and he is a GRAND asshole…I can relate to him. When you’re placed in a position where you work with people during their darkest hour you can’t help but to become a little desensitized. If you do it long enough that desensitization festers, and permanently (or semi-permanently) distorts your view. So if you were a generally happy person overtime you can become dry and cynical. If you were already an ass you become Officer Harrison.
I’ve faced this type of dilemma in health care for years. What happens to a person when COPD, cancer, AIDS, accidents, amputations, mutilations, addiction, and death because of the work you do become the “routine”? We unconsciously numb ourselves over the years. Many chemically, the shot of whiskey or the pill taken after work (it was my coping mechanism for a good while.) Some in healthy ways, seeking refuge in our families and trying to not to take work home. Still many more cope with behaviors and attitudes i.e. cynicism, sarcasm and prejudice.
Sidebar: Prejudice and Human Services Work
Prejudice you ask? Well let’s just say when your only contact with another culture comes when they are in need of medical services or when you’re arresting them, there is a tendency to believe that that particular group is only the way you see them when they present to you. Example: There was a running “joke” when I used to work at one of the larger hospitals in the city. Any time you got on the elevator with a Latino person (who by the way were always called Mexican regardless of country of origin), they HAD to be going to either one of two floors: Five, where the trauma unit was located, or Eight, where labor and delivery were located. Was there any credence to this? I’ll say about 85% of the time it was spot on, after all there is at least a semblance of truth to most stereotypes.
This is still no reason to make a sweeping judgment about an entire race of people, and without a doubt NO reason to mistreat that race of people as may happen in cases of police brutality and patient abuse. Yes, patient abuse, under reported but happening on a daily basis. I’ve seen patients treated differently because of their culture, economic background, or what a caregiver views as a patients moral inadequacies.
Sadly, I’m not sure if there’s a way to ensure these things won’t happen. Healthcare seems to just be waking up from it’s coma in this area. I’ve worked at countless facilities and it was not until I had been a therapist for 10 years that I was offered any type of diversity training. Human service work is where I feel the real danger of prejudice lies. Do I want someone who thinks I’m an immoral being for having a child out of wedlock giving me pain medication while I’m in labor? There’s nothing to say she wouldn’t administer as ordered, but there’s nothing to say she would either. It is here that I digress…
Back to Officer Harrison, me, and my almost 12 year career in health care. He and I both have taken on careers that could definitely be listed among the worlds “dirtiest” jobs, if only in the figurative sense. My hope for him (yes, I do have a little) is that he doesn’t allow what he calls procedure, protocol, and his “authority”, to let him to forget on some enchanted evening that the person he’s arresting is a human being first. As for me, you’re looking at my coping mechanism, however I honestly don’t know how much longer I can deal with health care as the corporate entity it’s become. I plan on getting out while I still have a little humanity left. ;).
Yep, I finally know what the caged bird sings…because ain’t shit else to do while you’re locked up!