I read a short essay on the radio. Follow the link above, click on the Local News for Oct 3, and my piece on dispatching is at the 7:50 mark. Hope you like it…
I think that it sound good out loud, but here is the text if that is your preference…
Hello, I am your dispatcher. I work at night, seated behind the radio console between the jail and the fire truck bays, answering the 911 line, and dispatching for police fire and ambulance.
My colleagues and I staff dispatch 24 hours of every single day of the year. Christmas, New Years, snow storm, whatever. We have to replace our desk chair every few months, it must be the hardest working chair in town.
I think of it as a front row seat on human nature, both the good side and the bad side, and I love it. I like helping people, even if you don’t always know that that is what I am trying to do. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like ‘help’ when you are being arrested for drunk driving or assault, but it is usually helping someone, and sometimes, that someone is you. And it is a small town, so when the phone stops ringing and the radio quiets down, I like having time and space to myself to read and write or study, or just think.
Some days are hard of course, sadness slabbed on top of sadness, having to watch people lives crumble to pieces, all the pettiness and cruelty that we humans have in us dealt out for my inspection like a bad hand of cards.
Some days when I hear your voice on the other end of the line for the umpteenth time, I have this idea that I am rising up to where I can see your whole life mapped out, the roads where you have made the wrong turn, the places where the waters rose up and flooded you out. Sometimes I almost think I can see where you are going, too. On those days, my voice might say “that’s a civil matter, ma’am or sir, I can’t help you, you will have to go see the magistrate,” but in my heart I am cheering you on. I know you are running hard and fighting with more than you even thought you had.
The best part of this job? I go home every day counting my blessings. I drive through the quiet night streets and think: thank God, I am healthy. Thank God I am not addicted to alcohol or drugs. Thank God I have a job, money for groceries, a roof over my head. And thank God I have a family to love, and that I come home to kindness at the end of my shift. It is such a gift to have this reminder to be grateful every day.
But the thing I wanted to tell you today is that for every call that comes in, for every drunk that stumbles back to the jail to sleep it off, for every ambulance toneout, every bar fight, , every 911; whenever I type your date of birth into the report I think about the day you were born. I think about whether it was winter or summer. I imagine what the weather might have been like. Maybe I picture a new father being handed a tiny bundle on Christmas Eve, a young mother sweating through labor in the middle of summer. I never forget that you are somebody’s son or daughter, loved, probably, brought forth in pain, nursed, treasured. You, just like the rest of us, must have delighted someone with your first smiles, your childhood laughter, your missing teeth and skinned knees. No matter what you did or how ugly you act, no matter how you might treat me and those around you, I remember this about you. Even if you yourself, forget.