A woman came home from work, entered her home and walked into her bedroom to change out of her business attire. Her elderly mother was in the next room taking a nap and sleeping through the high volume of the television because of her hearing deficiency.
The front door of the home had stain glass panes and unknown to either woman, a man broke the glass, unlocked the door, and entered the residence a few minutes behind the homeowner. He walked past the room with the blaring television and went into the master bedroom. He saw a purse lying at the foot of the bed and grabbed it.
Ms. McNally, standing in her walk-in closet, had just kicked off her shoes when she heard a noise and turned to see the man make off with her purse. She gave little thought to personal safety and was angry that some stranger invaded her home. She gave chase.
The burglar ran out the front door where a small pickup truck was waiting with a female driver. He chucked the purse into the bed of the truck and then got into the passenger seat. The truck took off. Unfortunately for the two crooks, Ms. McNally had jumped into the back of the truck to retrieve her purse. She grabbed it and noticing several other items, that looked to be stolen, she began throwing them onto the street.
As the vehicle slowed to go around a corner, she jumped out and then stood her ground as the truck sped away. She calmly took a pen from her purse and wrote down the license number. After notifying authorities, the truck was discovered to be stolen and several homes in the area had been victimized by the overconfident criminal couple. They were subsequently caught and prosecuted for their crimes.
The story was then published in the local paper. Ms. McNally was fifty-seven years old. I decided to write this post because a friend and follower of my blog referred to me as her hero. This makes me blush but also cringe slightly. I don’t feel like a hero but what an incredibly awesome thing for someone to say.
I’ve wanted to write this story for years and talk about my hero. I couldn’t find that long ago newspaper article but I know the story intimately. Ms. McNally is my mother.
My grandmother died a few years after this incident. My mom retired and bought a garage on one-hundred acres of property. She redesigned the interior and made a lovely home doing all the work herself. This includes wiring and building the walls. She has no electricity bill because she lives on wind generation and solar power. She’s a vegetarian and refuses to allow local hunters to go after a mountain lion living on her property. She owns a shotgun and the ratchet saved her life once but that’s another story.
I get the audacity to challenge life from a woman who continues to inspire me. She never blinked an eye when I went to the police academy at the age of forty-five. She knew I would achieve whatever I set out to do. She turned sixty-eight this year and she’s still beautiful and determined. Thank you mom, I have big shoes to fill.
I’ve known for years that a cop’s life is never easy or glamorous. If it was, all our cases would be solved in one hour and I would arrive at a crime scene with a low cut top, pink Jimmy Choo pumps to match my handcuffs, and long sexy hair streaming down my back. I don’t actually watch these shows but I’ve seen the commercials. No way can I compete. When I walk onto a crime scene, I scare the neighbors.
Using my limited detective budget I bought 1000 black shoe covers for $29.99. They were a bargain and cheaply double as hair covers. While working a case with the F.B.I. (now that sounds glamorous) they gave me some pretty blue paper face masks that are better than the plain white ones I have. My hands are double gloved because once you begin to sweat it’s easier to change gloves leaving the bottom sweaty one on throughout the day. My hands are a shriveled mess when I’m done. I put on a new pair of gloves after picking up each item of evidence. If my phone rings, I change gloves because I don’t want goop on the phone when I speak to my grandbabies each night. Most of this I’ve learned by trial and error. Unknown gunk on my phone was good training.
At gruesome scenes, I wear a complete body suit. These suits are expensive so I only have one and it’s usually weeks before I can order another. I’ve become quite picky about when to use it. A few years ago I suited up for a week old dead body. A week later I had a half-eaten corpse. Man’s best friends got hungry after a few days. No body suit and I had to collect dog poop because there were human remains within.
My husband knows not to touch, get close or impede my progress to the laundry room to remove my clothes and dump them in the washing machine. A simple hand gesture has him backing up quickly. Then it’s naked to the shower to scrub away the grime. It takes weeks to get the smell to stop because the odor gets trapped in your nose hairs and reappears at the oddest moments. Is this discussed on TV?
Skin slippage, gurgles made from gasses in the bodies and of course the smell might be glamorized but I have trouble believing the crime scene investigators are anything but attractive when acting their part. Hah!
Have I mentioned maggots? Does television make them seem stylish? In real life they tend to fall off and we step on them. They make a popping noise as we get the body into a zippered bag. The medical examiner’s office has a huge fly zapper because those little squiggly things drop off the table and hide out until they become a pesky critter with wings. ZAP! I live in fear of unknowingly bringing a few home.
When called out late at night I’m lucky if I remember to brush my teeth but after a few cups of coffee my breath improves. I’ve stopped chewing gum because the thought of inhaling “whatever” through the mask is bad enough but I had to draw the line at chewing on it.
Plastic is a big pet peeve of mine. The crime show commercials show these small plastic see through bags and the investigator dropping in a single hair using tweezers. S-O-R-R-Y, the chemicals in plastic can destroy your evidence. Paper, paper, paper. I guess it wouldn’t look good on TV. I use Post-It notes to collect small hair fibers and then fold into a bindle. I was taught this by the state crime lab when I got my evidence collection certification. I’m the only one at our department with this particular advanced training. I have no hunky CSI techs to make my job easier.
Now that I’ve taken the glamour out of my job I will admit the truth. I live for these situations. I love the adrenaline rush, figuring out what took place and solving the crime. I can go days without sleep. I am never happier than when I’m working a big case regardless of what’s involved. My only wish is that I could be beautiful and photogenic while doing it!
I’m sorry for not including a picture in this post. I had one chosen but then changed my mind. It was so wrong.
We have a grouchy mom at the police department. No, it isn’t me! She keeps us in line, buys us donuts (which I don’t need) and will even sew on a uniform patch if requested. Darla Newman is our champion and our worse critic. She drives us nuts but we love her.
The younger officers have a harder time with her but I’ve had my ups and downs too. Darla is outspoken and at times downright scary. She types in our short forms exactly as we give them to her. If I write “polic” mistakenly dropping the “e,” my official report will show my error. She’s not our mother and it’s up to us to fix our own blunders. She’s a retired school teacher and came to our department after more than twenty years of using a sledge hammer to teach English to grade school children. If we didn’t have a good English teacher it’s our own problem. Darla personifies the uptight, strict, nun teaching at a Catholic school.
Have I mentioned she’s hard of hearing? I’ve stood next to her desk as she answers the phone. “No he doesn’t work here.” Pause, “I said he doesn’t work here.” Pause, “No, she doesn’t work here either.”
By this time, I must ask, “Who were they looking for?”
“Oh a Detective Heavy or something like that.”
My thought to myself, “Okay ‘heavy, Ivy’ I’m screwed.”
My words out loud, “They may have my name wrong so let me know if they call back.” I then go and bang my head against my desk.
More than a week ago, several of us were sitting together in the squad room eating lunch. Our Chief was sitting with us but reading a magazine and pretty much ignoring our conversation. Darla left earlier to have lunch with her grown son. The front door almost tore off its hinges when she returned. Darla didn’t look at the other officers, just at me.
“Something needs to be done about Patsy Glable!” Her breathing was heavy and agitated.
Darla has a habit of deciding who should handle certain cases. Her rhyme and reason is sometimes hard to decipher but in my case, she expects me to handle any female causing problems.
“What has she done now?” was my reply. Patsy has been caught drunk driving and shop lifting a time or two and I am well familiar with her troubles.
“She has a new boyfriend and he drives her around town.” Came the indignant reply.
“Um, okay. What else is she doing?” I was thinking she probably had a suspended license and was actually glad to hear she was being chauffeured.
Darla looked around at the other officers and didn’t reply for a moment. She took a deep breath, “She has one leg hanging out the car window as they drive.”
There was another pause as I waited for her to continue but she didn’t. She stared at me like I should know this was wrong. “Um, I don’t think it’s illegal unless her leg is causing danger to another vehicle and needs a red flag tied to it.” I thought this was a pretty good comeback.
Another long pause and glance at the officers as they pretended to concentrate on their food. “She’s wearing short shorts.”
I saw the Chief give me a fleeting look and then go back to his magazine. “Um, it’s not against the law to wear short shorts.” My voice was a little more baffled now.
Darla was glaring when she said quite succinctly, “Her tarantula is showing.”
One of my fellow officers began choking on his food. My Chief rushed out of the room like his butt was on fire and I remained baffled for a split second. It started to sink in and I began laughing. I couldn’t stop and the guys joined in. The mental picture was too much for us.
It’s now been a week and I’ve seen Patsy with her leg out the window but haven’t been close enough to see if the lawn is manicured.
Darla is not speaking to me and it’s making life difficult in the office. I offended her school teacher sensibilities with my laughter. I feel badly, NOT. There have been no donuts recently and the guys are telling me to apologize. I’ve lost three pounds and I’m not sure if I want to. I’ll give it another week.
I thought by working sex crimes I’d heard it all, I was wrong.
Early feedback for Bad Luck Officer has been wonderful (special thanks to Ruby). I hate editing and it continues to be my nemesis. If it wasn’t for my mother and friend Linda, this book would never see daylight. Their criticism and grammar corrections make me look good. This book was a team effort.
I have plans to release my Small Town blog posts later this year. Please don’t get too excited because if you’re reading this you’ve probably read them. It will be titled Bad Luck in Small Town. The only thing I plan to add is a common theme throughout but I’m not sure what (yet). I have a few homicides under my belt so I may use one of them as the backdrop. I’m also thinking about Bad Luck Detective and hoping to type the first chapter sometime in the next few months.
I published the following post on Blogher and decided to share it here…
In law enforcement, we run a criminal history search on all felony cases. When I see a suspect with a.k.a.’s, I know I have a shady character. Fraud cases are the most prevalent but violent suspects are also known to use multiple names. I’ve lately wondered, if I had ever committed a crime, and my rap sheet was viewed, what would it look like today?
Back when I was in seventh grade, there was a tween I worshipped. She had dark brown eyes, a thin and muscular body and a name I fell in love with. She was a gymnast, on the cheerleading squad and incredibly popular. I moved away halfway through eighth grade and never knew what happened to her. She never knew me and we never spoke.
I carried her along by signing my daughters up for gymnastic classes. Little did I know, my world would revolve around competitive gymnastics for many years, as my one daughter excelled. She (my daughter) retired from the sport at age 16, to start a part-time job in a veterinarian office, which was her dream. And my life continued…
Many people don’t know this, but I owned an independent bookstore in Phoenix for many, many years, and finally sold it in 2002. Books were my life and I knew, one day, I would be a writer. I also had one childhood dream that I never thought would be fulfilled. During my freshman year of high school, an appointment was made for me to visit my guidance counselor. The big question she asked, “What are your career goals?” This was 1975. I told her I wanted to be a police officer.
Her response, which I will never forget, “That’s not a job for women, pick something else.” So, with a broken heart, I did. As most of my readers know, I went into law enforcement at age 45. I like to describe it as a lark but it really wasn’t. It was a long forgotten dream that I needed to fulfill in my life. Two years later, I began writing. I like to say, I never look back, but I do.
I think about seventh grade and those beautiful big brown eyes that I envied. When I had to pick a pseudonym to write under (it’s frowned upon for law enforcement to write police blogs) I could only think of one name, Suzie Ivy. My eyes are blue, I have blond hair and these are the things I no longer want to change. But, I have an awesome writing name and for that, I thank the seventh grade girl who never knew me. What ever happened to the real Suzie Ivy? I don’t know but this one loves life, family, career and writing. Thank you Suzie for inspiring me, I hope your life has been as rich and fulfilled as mine!