In a small town, everyone knows where you live, what schedule you work, and when you are home. They don’t care that you worked the night shift and need sleep for your next shift. You are their neighbor, friend, or in some cases the person who put them in jail the night before.
I arrested twenty-four-year-old Raymond Thoms for driving under the influence and open container. He was highly intoxicated and belligerent. His sexual innuendos and continued derogative gestures during the intoxilizer test had the jail detention officers threatening to place him in a restraint chair. Adding to my discomfort, Raymond’s mother was a friend and neighbor. I’d previously known Raymond as polite and helpful whenever I saw him. Now, he was the perfect example of someone who should never drink alcohol.
I understand that liquor can turn ordinary people into Mr. or Mrs. Hyde. But the effects of alcohol on Raymond were more like Dr. Ruth and Howard Stern having a love child who suffered with turrets syndrome.
I managed to control my irritation but admit I was glad to leave Raymond behind to let him sleep it off. I escaped the jail about twenty minutes before the end of my shift and took a final drive through town before going home. A short time later, I fell into bed completely exhausted. At around six in the morning, pounding at my front door had my husband cursing and me grabbing a bathrobe and groggily stumbling to the door.
Raymond stood on my porch.
I know big city cops are cringing at this point but events such as this happen in small towns. I stepped back and invited Raymond inside. I turned on the coffee pot and offered him a seat at my kitchen table. It took all of two seconds before he was balling his eyes out apologizing for what happened. I know he was still intoxicated but at least now I saw signs of the sweet young man I’d known for several years.
Apparently one of the detention officers was Raymond’s second cousin and had no trouble calling Dorothy, Raymond’s mother, and informing her of what he put me through in the jail. Raymond told me he remembered very little but the same officer quite blatantly told him about his behavior. After the judge released Raymond, he called his mother to pick him up only to be informed he was no longer welcome in her home. Raymond walked two and a half miles to my front door and now I had him sitting in my kitchen begging me to intervene.
I’m happy to report that as far as I know, Raymond never drank again. He and his wife just had their second child and Raymond always gives me a big hug when we see each other. And yes, Dorothy allowed him home after a lengthy conversation. I know she gave in more to get him out of my kitchen than to bring him so quickly back into the family fold. As a single mother, she was quite rigid when it came to her son crossing the line and I applaud her for that. I don’t envy Raymond those first weeks after he returned home but he survived.
A few weeks ago, with plenty of laughter, Dorothy and I rehashed the story of Raymond crying in my kitchen afraid he was homeless. Dorothy reminded me of the small things I miss most from the day to day adventures as a cop. No shift was ever boring and the comradery of my fellow officers was like nothing I experienced before or since. And yes, I even miss the Raymonds who made police life interesting. In my thoughts, I continue to identify myself as an officer. I wonder when that will stop and my civilian status will settle in. Maybe, that’s when my retirement will truly hit home.