Sunday, January 14, 2007
Michael made fun of me just a bit as I changed clothes TWICE before my "big night." One has to have the appropriate attire to fight crime. He just didn't understand that I couldn't do my duty in something just thrown together. There were standards. The appropriate color and flexibility are important when one is crime fighting.
As part of our leadership class requirements, each member must do a "ride along" with a city or county police officer. I chose the city since I'm new to town and want to know all the places to avoid and all the "bad" people who live in my neighborhood. My mission: ride with Officer Miller from seven until I feel all the bad guys are caught and my duty is done, making the streets safer for other Fayettevillians. I had already warned my class members to be careful on Saturday night...that I would be helping provide protection to the City, and they should be sure to stay out of trouble. I have no mercy on the bad.
At 7:00 p.m. sharp, I arrived at the police station. I climbed into the car, fastened my seat belt (it's The Law, and I wanted to show my police partner how careful I am at obeying laws!), and we were off. In the back of my mind, I heard the theme song from the show "Cops" playing, and I was ready to relieve Fayetteville of some of the Bad Guys. "Watch Out", I thought, "I"m coming for you!"
Our first order of business: cruise through the projects and past two known crack houses. Wow...the people were standing in the streets outside the house. I was ready to go in if the occasion warranted it. But they knew not to mess with us. Their eyes diverted away. There was a new cop in town, baby!
Next, we were called to a domestic abuse situation. But we were able to work things out to where we didn't have to take anyone Down Town. But, we thought as we drove away, we'll be back later...these people are trouble.
While we drove around the problem areas making our presence known, we listened to an actual "chase" on the radio. A drunk driver from Franklin County made the mistake of crossing the line into Lincoln County. Our guys gave him chase for a while, watching him weave and almost crash several times. I kept hearing them talk about how he was going to kill someone if they didn't get him off the road. About that time, we heard him hit a patrol car and keep going. Several expletives in our car and others. They decided they were going to set up a road block. Surely he would stop, my partner said. The next thing we heard was, "The "expletive" hit me...he T-boned me!" More expletives. This was getting serious. As we heard them "talk" about how he was getting closer to Highway 64, my partner said they'd have to take him out before he got to the main highway. No sooner had he said it did we hear another car say he was in a position to "take him out!" I kept hearing this term, and I was a bit confused by it. I ask what it meant. Were they going to shoot him? Could we help!?!?!? Darn. I left my 38-Special at home! But my partner told me that it just meant that they were going to shoot out his tires. Not shoot him. Before the officer could "take him out," however, another patrol car got hit. We heard that, too. More expletives. They went into a field. They drove through the field. More expletives. Static. Expletive. And then we heard a fellow officer come on the radio to say that the suspect had crashed. An ambulance was needed. They said they may need Med Flight. Wow. This was something I normally watched on CNN. I wanted to be where the action was. I was itching to get "into the fight," but my partner said we had to guard our domain...not leave it unmanned. I understood. Besides, the suspect was in custody, and no officers were injured. Three patrol cars, however, were killed in the chase.
We got a call about that time regarding a suspected drunk driver. Oh yeah! We pulled up behind the pickup, lights went on. Would he run? Would we have to chase him? His right blinkie went on, and he pulled over. Darn, there would be no chase...this time. My partner went up, cautiously, to the window, even though he knew the man, as he had pulled him over and arrested him before. A repeat offender. The worst kind. And THIS was a 72 year old repeat offender. Never knew what he would do. He had A LOT of experience being a repeat offender! He could be trouble! I stayed in the car to provide back up from afar, just in case Officer Miller needed it. After a few minutes, the man got out of the vehicle, went around to the back of the truck at my partner's directions, and attempted to follow simple instructions...follow the flashlight using his "eyes only." Apparently, that is something that is difficult to do when one can't stand up straight. Officer Miller held the flashlight in one hand and moved it from side to side. The man weaved forward; he weaved backward; he stuck his hands out to his sides as if he was an airplane or a bird that was attempting to take flight. Once the man felt as though he had steadied himself, he threw his hands down to his sides quickly, threw his head back and chin up, as if he was a soldier being called to attention. Something about that struck me as funny, so I cried tears of laughter in the car where I...ready to spring into action at a moment's notice... kept watch over the situation. Over and over again, he attempted to follow the flashlight with only his eyes. It didn't work. Inevitably, he would turn his entire head as the flashlight went from side to side. "Put the cuffs on him!" I was thinking from my place in the patrol car. "Let's take him to the Big House!" Finally, the man was completely frustrated, so he leaned against the back of the pickup, almost sliding down to sit on the bumper, as he was having more and more trouble standing up. More backup arrived. Suddenly, my partner took out his cuffs and placed them around the man's wrists. "Woooo-H000o!" I thought! "We're actually going Down Town!" I almost forgot and yelled it out loud. They walked towards me, and as the man stumbled up to the patrol car, he reached for the door handle...to MY door! "Whoa, big guy!" I thought, "I don't wanna have to hurt you!" The officer opened the back door, however, and steered him to the backseat, helping him get in so he wouldn't bump his head. How nice of him. I thought they "threw" them into the back seat! No sooner had the man hit the seat than I smelled him. The odor was over powering, and he smelled as if he'd taking a bath in a few hundred bottles of Jack Daniels. I got woozy. My eyes actually watered. I couldn't afford to be weak on my first night. I tried to suck it up. Then, I watched as my partner went to the front of the patrol car, talked with another officer, and the two of them proceeded to search the man's truck. "Wait," I thought! "Don't leave me in here with this smelly man!" I wanted to get out, but about the time I went for the doorhandle, the man spoke. It sounded something like this: "Sheeeeeeaaaaat! Ima not beeeen dreeenkin no wheeesky! Ima don drink-k wheeesky...man cant evnin wok down da streeeeet widout sumbuny sayin' he's weeevin. Ima don weavin. Sheeeeeat! Tell....tellem seach the sewcase if them wannam fine sumthin. Sheeeeaaaaaaat! Im sick-k...man cant-t be sick wiout beeeen haraassssssssssed. Sheeeeaaaaaaaaaaat!" I decided to stay. The suspect might say something that could be used against him in a court of law. It was my duty to listen. Besides, he had no idea that I was in the front seat because he hadn't opened his eyes since they had placed him in the back. He could reveal something incriminating, and if he did, I'D BE THERE. I just needed to hold my nose. I actually thought about pulling my travel bottle of perfume out of my purse and spraying him with it. I'm sure he wouldn't notice.
My partner and the other guy found a bag of pills. Did they searched the "sewcase?" I watched to be sure. Yep. They looked in there. Playboy magazines. It was full of Playboy magazines! I watched as one of the officers took them to his car. Evidence, I guess. After thoroughly searching the truck, they brought to the patrol car the bag of pills, a flask of whisky (my guess was Jack Daniels) and a collection kit to test the man's blood alcohol content...or blood pill content or something. I held these items for my partner since there was no place to put them. He went out to talk to the other officers again. While he was gone, I quietly unscrewed the lid on the flask and took a sniff. My eyes watered again. Holy Cow. I screwed the lid back on as tightly as I could. I didn't want that stuff to make contact with my skin. It might burn it off.
After Officer Miller started the patrol car and headed Down Town, I hoped he would turn on the lights. After all, we had a criminal in our vehicle. To my disappointment, no lights. He told me we were headed to the hospital to take a blood test. It would tell us what Mr. Smelly had taken. "Iant takn NUTin" yelled the man from the backseat. Each time he spoke, I thought I would pass out. Don't breathe too strongly, I thought, or I'll lose my dinner. About that time, he placed his hands on the bars behind my head and pulled himself closer to them...closer to me. "Oh....I diden know there wuz a lady in heeere," he said. "Scuse meee....I diden know yuse up thar." Officer Miller told him he must be worse off than he thought if he didn't know there was a lady in the car, and he hoped he hadn't cursed in front of me. "Nosiiirrrr....I .....I...I diden know....."
After the trip to the hospital where we collected evidence, we drove the man to the jail. The patrol car pulled around to the back of the jail where a heavy door raised, and to my amazement, we drove inside. It felt as if I was entering the Bat Cave. Upon driving through the door, it lowered itself. We were inside. We were inside a fortress. Another officer-looking person came out. He helped my partner get the man out of the backseat. "Want to go in?" my partner asked me. "Are you kidding? Sure I do!" I heard myself say much too enthusiastically. Darn...now he'd know I was an amateur. Act tough! Act Cool. Act like you're not scared Sheeeeeeeeeeaatless. I got control of myself. The four of us walked down a long corridor. Much to my dismay, I had to walk behind the prisoner. Believe me, it smelled worse back there than it had in the front seat. But I kept a stone-cold face.
We entered a huge room where two people in uniforms help my partner get the man inside. One of them wrote information down in a big book, and asked the prisoner to remove his belt and shoes. I noticed that once he had removed his shoes, Mr. Smelly had holes in his socks and his second toe stuck through one of them. I bet if he had known he was going to get arrested, he would have put on a better pair of socks.
At that time, I decided to take a look around. I turned in a slow circle taking everything in. As I turned, I saw large glass doors which I heard one of the officers refer to as "booking cells." As I looked at the doors, a man appeared at one of them, dressed only in his underwear! I turned away quickly. There was an almost-naked man looking right at me! I tried not to looked shocked as I turned away from him and met the eyes of the female officer who was in charge of writing the information down in the Big House Big Book. I knew it was important for me to act like I saw strange men in their tighty-whities all the time. I could do this. I decided to look again, just to make sure I had actually seen what I thought I saw. Yep. Briefs, not boxers. Yikes! And then another man appeared at one of the other doors. He, too, wore the same looking undies. Did NO one wear clothes around here?!?! I looked away again, but tried to do so nonchalantly as if I see men in their underwear all the time. I'm no amateur.
As they finished taking down the information and began to lead Mr. Smelly away, he turned to thank Officer Miller for arresting him. And he thanked me. He thanked everyone, as a matter of fact. He was very, very thankful.
I turned to go, and as I did, I took one more look at the two men in their panties. I, after all, had just arrested a drunk, smelly man. No one could intimidate me. I looked them straight in the eyes as I followed Officer Miller out of the room. I wasn't afraid to look! I could look at nearly naked criminals (who I found out later had committed serious felonies). I felt better that I hadn't diverted my eyes like a Sissy-Girl. I felt empowered.
It had been a long night, and it was nearing 1:30 a.m. by the time we arrived upstairs in the jail so that Officer Miller could complete the paperwork on the prisoner. Things were quietening down. The county guys were back from their chase and were discussing it in detail inside. I went to look at the cars. They looked muddy and mangled. But in the end, the Good Guys had prevailed. I went back up to the room and listened to them tell about the night, over and over again. They were excited. The adrenaline was still pumping. They had all had a good time.
As much as I hated to admit it, it was getting way past my bedtime, and the yawns were coming every few minutes. I needed to leave while I was still awake enough to walk out with energy, I thought. I called Michael to come get me at the jail, we needed to get my car, and go home. When he arrived, I said goodnight to my fellow officers. It had been a good night. I had fulfilled my duty well. As I walked out of the jail with a new-found purpose, I felt as though my head was held a little higher. I had protected my fellow Fayettevillians from danger. I had taken a drunk driver off the road and lived to tell about it. Shoot, I had even seen men in their Fruit-of-the-Looms. I was a New Woman.
Michael dropped me off at my car in front of the police station and waited as I started the engine and pulled out behind him. It annoyed me a bit that he waited, as if I couldn't protect myself if something happened. Didn't he realize that I was a New Woman? Didn't he know that now, drunk drivers everywhere would cower in fear? And men in their underwear were no match for me? Still, I thought, growing a bit softer at the thought, it was a nice gesture.
As I drove out of the parking lot, I actually considered taking a detour through the projects. But only for a second. It was time to go home. My mission was complete.
Disclaimer: Parts of this story may be greatly exaggerated.
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Monday, January 8, 2007
When Michael and I married in 2005, he told me upon moving to Fayetteville that one of the best things I could do to learn about the community was get involved with Leadership Lincoln. I'd been through leadership programs before in Kentucky (Harlan County Leadership United and East Kentucky Leadership), so I knew how much time would be involved, and I worried about finding the time to do it with my job at Sewanee and the Bed and Breakfast. When the time came for me to send in the application, I was still uncertain about the time constraints it would place on us, but I was willing to try based on Michael's and my mother-in-law Suzanne's recommendations. I jumped in with both feet, and I have to say that it was the best thing I've done since moving to Fayetteville!
I came away from the weekend orientation retreat excited about the class days to come, but nothing quite prepared me for the amazing time I had at the first session...Agriculture Day. As I told Dr. Beasley, an amazing man who oversaw the day, I wish it could be "Agriculture Week!" I was astounded by what goes on in Lincoln County in the field of agriculture. And each class day since then has provided me with a wealth of information and insight into my new community. Needless to say, I am very impressed with Lincoln County and Fayetteville!
Furthermore, I have met some amazing people through this process. My class members hold jobs and positions in the community that run the gamut, and each of them has qualities that I so admire. The individuals who have instructed the classes have been so well prepared and informative!
I feel so fortunate to be a member of the 2007 Class of Leadership Lincoln. It has been one of the most beneficial and fun programs in which I've been involved, and it highlights a place and its people that have endeared themselves to me in such a short time. I am so happy and proud to call Fayetteville and Lincoln County my new home.
If you would like to know more about Leadership Lincoln, or if you would like to make a donation to our class project (renovating the Ninth Grade Academy Football Field), please go to our website at: www.leadershiplincolntn.com/07/
Thanks so much!!
Sunday, January 7, 2007
Case in point: I moved to a small town in Southern Middle Tennessee a few months ago. One of the first people I met is my neighbor two doors down, and guess what...he grew up in Harlan. And when a new family moved to town from Florida...you guess it...his father worked in the mines in Harlan. And just to drive this point home: the house that my husband bought five years before he met me? Bought it from a man who worked as a physician in Harlan County in the 50's. And it just doesn't happen that I run into people with ties to Harlan in Tennessee. No, I can go ANYwhere and find someone with links to Harlan!
In fact, you know the old game, "The six degrees of Kevin Bacon?" Well, I have a game: "The Four Degrees of Harlan County." I don't even NEED six degrees! I can do it in four...or three or two!
I'm very PROUD of my mountain heritage. I think, once a child of the Appalachians, always a child of the Appalachians. I grew up there, moved away and got a college education, and I couldn't WAIT to go back home. The only reason I'm not there now is that I married a man who just can't live in the mountains (that dumbfounds me, really), and has a technical job that just isn't available there...or I'd be back home. Don't get me wrong, there are wonderful places in the world, and Southern Middle Tennessee is a lovely place...it's just not my mountain home. I do miss my mountains...falling asleep to the orchestra of sound made by the frogs and katydids at night as the distant moan of a midnight train echoes through the mountains. I miss waking up to the sounds and smells of the mountains...the hummingbirds outside my window, the morning sun filtering through the large oak trees outside. I miss the misty mornings when the fog wraps itself like a ribbon around the mountains and only burns off with the late morning sunshine...or the days that it doesn't burn off at all and gives the mountains an enchanting, mystical quality...that others not from there consider foreboding and sad.
So now, I settle for going back every chance I get...to the mountains that made me who I am, to the people and places that call me their own. It's where I find myself when I get lost in the world. It's home.
Friday, January 5, 2007
I've made progress! I've actually started on my second New Year's resolution! Today, I began making more time for my writing and actually finished with part of the prologue on something I'm writing!! Ta-DAAA! Michael and I both have listed "make more time for writing" on our things to do list, so I (the most competitive woman on the face of the earth) beat him to it! HA! He'll say the only reason I wrote today was so that I could say I did it first. There may be some truth to that, but don't tell him. It's funny how I motivate myself, and hey...if it works, I gotta do it.
Now here's my writing dilemma. This is partly autobiographical. Do I change the names of any real persons to keep them from being identified? But...here's the thing...everyone will KNOW who they are...they'll know who they are...can't I just use their real names?
I have so many things to write about running around in my head, so I'm anxious to configure our schedule to accommodate more time to write. My journal writing has slowed down since I got married...who has time to write between a full time job and a Bed and Breakfast on the side? Not to mention all those animals that seek constant attention! I'll probably have to go lock myself in a room somewhere...but you know, they follow me. Every one of them. They sniff me out, and...right when I'm in the writing zone...little kitty paws appear under the door...making small noises at first...and then they get louder and louDER and LOUDER as they rattle the door attempting to get in. Don't get me wrong...I love the kitties, but they want to play when I wish they'd take a nap!!
Dinner tonight is compliments of the Elk River Coffee Company: peach harvest tea and chicken salad sans the bread. I'm on another diet. That's sure to give me a lot to write about!
Thursday, January 4, 2007
As we begin a new year full of new possibilities and adventures, we looked back at 2006 fondly, our first year of marriage, and chose some of the most special and memorable moments. We promised each other not to choose any political moments (so that means I couldn't add the Democrats winning majority) and Michael couldn't mention any "W" moments. So, here, in true Letterman fashion, is our Top Ten List.
10. Our Weekend in Franklin, Tennessee - (okay, this is more than a moment, but bear with us), seeing old friends, attending a play and cooking class, seeing the spectacular historic homes and staying at the Old Marshall House Bed & Breakfast.
9. Taylor Hicks Wins American Idol - Let me just say before I type any further that this is definitely a Michael and Suzanne moment...not a Paula moment. I was pulling for Chris Daughtry!
8. The End of Saddam - Okay, perhaps only one political moment that we both can agree on! 'Nuff Said.
7. Auburn Beats Florida in Football - This was a Michael and Ricky moment, as they were at the game. Michael called me from the stadium at the end of the game so I could experience the roar of the crowd. I'm sure I didn't get the same effect as Michael and Ricky and the other Auburn fans, but it was still pretty impressive over the cell phone!
6. Kentucky wins the Music City Bowl - Okay, this is higher on the list than the Auburn game only because I'm the one who is typing the entry tonight! :-) UK really stuck it to Clemson, and it was especially nice for me, as I was able to see one of my former Robinson Scholars, Durrell White, play in his last college football game. Michael and I were fortunate to get to spend the day with my brother, Todd, my dad Jay, and Michael's college buddy Darrin. GO CATS! (Ask Michael about getting kicked out of the VIP seats...and spending the second half of the game with the Clemson band!)
5. First Anniversary at Falls Creek Falls State Park - It was hard to believe that a year had gone by, but we celebrated our first year anniversary in September. We stayed at a B&B in Falls Creek Falls (and THAT was the worst part of our trip...but gave us a lot of stories to tell), but the views were spectacular, and we were able to spend a lot of quality time together over the long weekend.
4. Trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - What spectacular things we saw! And, yes, again, this encompasses more than a moment in time...actually a week, but it's our list, so we get to do it our way!! :-)~ We had a fabulous time exploring the downtown area of Vancouver, spending time at the city park, taking a dinner cruise around Vancouver Island, eating at some amazing restaurants, and seeing Cabaret on stage at a great little theatre. What fun!
3. Our Adoption of Molly - Our frolicking little puppy joined our family, and it's not been the same since!!
2. Spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with our Families - For Thanksgiving, Michael's family, the Wagars, joined us at our home in Fayetteville for quite a feast! We had a full house with Michael's mother Suzanne, his aunt and uncle Cheryl and Paul Wagar, the Wagar cousins (Wynn and his wife, Bethany; Emily and her husband Steve; and Bryan), and our friend, Connie. For Christmas, Michael and I traveled to Kentucky to spend time with the Whitaker family: My grandmother Aretta, my mom and dad Alene and Jay, and my aunt Vivian and her husband, Jerry). We were a small, but happy, bunch.
and our top moment(s) of 2006:
Spending Time Together in our Hammock in our Back Yard - This was something that we did every chance we got. Usually, Murphy, one of the cats, and later on, Molly, would join us as we enjoyed the warm weather and the serenity of our back yard from our gigantic hammock my mother bought Michael for his birthday. It's a fabulous place to talk, look at the house we've made for ourselves, and discuss all the important things and people whom we are blessed to have in our lives. It's definitely one of our favorite places and has provided us with some of our very best moments!