Police Story

As Garfield the Cat has often opined, I’m bored. Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored. Nothing exciting or odd has happened lately to write about.

Unless you want to count the three encounters we have had with the law the last little while.

First, there was the “Magical-Appearing/Disappearing-Biting-Dog Incident.” My youngest son helps out around the house by having a paper route to earn money so that he can waste it on junk food. Once a week, we are the recipient of a large mound of papers, conveniently left in our laneway to maximize the chance of it getting run over, thereby scattering hundreds of flyers about the neighbourhood. This, when you think about it, sort of negates the need for my son to deliver them door-to-door.

Anyway, also once a week, we have these hundreds of papers scattered all over our family room floor for several days, which is how long it takes for our youngest son to actually put them together and deliver them.

A few weeks ago, my son came home upset because one of the dogs at the end of our street had bitten him on the stomach. The skin wasn’t broken; there was no blood, just some teeth impressions. As concerned parents, we naturally wanted to draw and quarter the owner of the dog. But level heads prevailed and my son and I went down to the end of the street to try to discern what had happened.

These folks have a dog that is always kept in a fenced yard. My son says he saw the dog in the yard, then the dog was out of the fence, then it bit him and turned around, then he yelled out and the owner came out to see what the commotion was about, and then the dog was back in the yard. The whole time, the fence gate was closed and locked. There was no explanation as to how the dog got out of the yard, then back in so quickly. So we surmised that it must have been another mystery dog that bit my son.

We called our local by-law enforcement officers to report an aggressive stray dog in our neighbourhood. And this begins the tale of how it came about that not once, not twice, but three times in the next few days we had a by-law enforcement officer's car parked out front of our house for all the neighbours to see as this incident was dealt with.

Next, there was the “Jerk-Member-of-My-Son’s-School-Project Incident.” These days, children cannot extricate themselves from the school system without having to engage in a multitude of group school projects. I think that this is an excellent idea because it prepares them for work in the real world where we are often expected to work in teams. Invariably, there is often a real-world work-place jerk on the team, so having to work on a school project in a group where at least one student is a jerk is excellent preparation for the work place.

I am reminded of a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon that shows God creating the earth in a skillet in His kitchen. He has a bunch of shakers around Him with labels like “trees,” “birds,” “insects,” “dark-skinned people,” and “light-skinned people.” In the cartoon, He is sprinkling a container labelled “jerks” into the pot. The caption reads, “And just to make it interesting…”. But we should not disparage these people. As Christians, we should pray for them and forgive them their transgressions against us.

I am also reminded of an old Burns-and-Allen radio skit where George Burns is creating all sorts of disruptions in a department store until one store clerk laments that, “The customer is always right…even jerks like this one.”

Well, one particular student in my oldest son’s school project told my son that his phone number was 911-1234 and to call him later that evening. When my son called him, he of course engaged the 911 emergency operators and, flustered, was forced to explain why he had called them when there was no emergency. All was calm in our household until about ten minutes later when a large — very large — policeman rang our doorbell inquiring as to the nature of our emergency.

My son, whose flustering ability was now stretched to the limit, explained what had happened, vis-à-vis the jerk team member, to the police officer. As I let the officer out the door, I could not help but notice his very present police cruiser parked in front of our house in clear view of all of our neighbours.

Finally, there was the “Every-Emergency-Vehicle-Known-to-Mankind-Hostage-Taking Incident.” I was returning home from picking up my son at air cadets one evening only to encounter a phalanx of police cruisers parked around the street behind my house because of a gun-wielding hostage-taking situation at the house a couple of doors down the street. And this is Canada!

In an extremely excited fashion my wife recounted what had transpired — shots being fired, multiple police cruisers arriving every second, TV crews setting up encampments across the street from our backyard, sometimes in trees if necessary (we’re talking about the media after all).

We both went out into our backyard to observe the goings on first hand as a police SWAT van pulled up and parked right behind our fence and disgorged what seemed like hundreds of police SWAT persons in full flak jacket attire with night-vision scope rifles and everything, all intent on calming the situation down. To be perfectly honest about it my wife and I were getting pretty nervous at the arrival of all this hardware — and we weren’t even engaged in anything unlawful — so I can’t imagine how the person holding people hostage at gunpoint felt. Pretty nervous is my guess.

Anyway, the situation ended peaceably enough with the only injury being that the to hostage-taker who shot himself in the foot. But not, of course, before all our neighbours could spend several hours gawking at the police mobilization around our house. Whatever must they be thinking?

So those are all our police stories, except for the one many years ago where I was suspected of setting fire to our local convenience store, but I’ll save that jewel for another time. Right now, I think I’ll just get back to being bored.

Nick Burn is a freelance writer, husband, father of three, engineer, teacher, and webmaster for the Canadian Catholic Information Network. In his spare time (hah!), he enjoys camping, skiing and reading.

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