When I was a kid, I loved my BMX bike. I would ride that sucker onto and off of just about anything. When I think back to the kinds of things I did on that bike, I wonder how I never broke any bones. The 80’s were they hey-day of BMX, if you ask me. It was before all those skater punks started dominating the scene. (Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I did indeed have a skateboard and may have been a punk.)
Even as a small one, I loved the rush of going fast, pushing the envelope, and seeing the look in my mom’s eyes when she saw what ridiculous crap I was attempting. As I grew up, it didn’t stop.
When I was a dispatcher in San Diego, I had my first real shot of the adrenaline I would come to
be addicted to love. I was working a sleepy graveyard shift when the 911 call came in. A barely understandable female voice said, “He tried to rape me.”
I wasn’t sleepy anymore.
I directed units to her location and had a uniformed officer standing next to her with 45 seconds. About a minute later, another officer was pulling the now-passed-out, would-be-rapist out of his truck. Wearing nothing but socks.
I stayed over from my shift and put dispatch tapes together for the case. Dispatchers rarely get to see the people involved in the details they assign. This time, however, was different. I was walking down the hall when the arresting officer asked me to sit with the victim for a few minutes while the officer gathered some paperwork. I walked in the room and was introduced to the victim as the dispatcher that answered her call. She was beside herself thanking me. I simply told her I was just doing my job and she made the difficult call. She was the hero, not me.
That being said, though, I felt like freaking Superman.
All I did was answer the damn phone. Can you imagine the feeling the cops on scene had? I needed me some o’ that.
When I went through the hiring process lo those many moons ago, I was asked why I wanted to be a cop. I gave the good Boy Scout answer about wanting to help people. Sure, it’s cliché, but it also happened to be accurate. A close second to that answer, though, is I love the adrenaline rush.
Recently, I was sitting around the PD doing something incredibly productive, I am sure, when a radio call came out of an officer on scene of a welfare check for a man that appeared to be sleeping behind the wheel. That appearance changed when the officer put this over the radio: “I have a man down with a gun shot wound to the head.”
Out the door like a shot and code 3. A few hours later I was, again, taking a brief respite from the heat when a neighboring jurisdiction got in to a pursuit. Right by the PD.
Out the door like a shot and code 3. Fast forward a quick span of time, and there are suspects on the ground and guns in hands. A few minutes later, all is back to normal. The heart rate reduces, the vision widens, the brain is oxygenated.
People get into this job for any number of reasons. I know some do because it’s a family tradition. Others like the stability of the paycheck and the promise of a decent retirement. Still others (whether they admit it or not), love the adrenaline.
A word of caution, though.
Adrenaline, much like fear, needs to be controlled. Three deep breaths before you start driving balls to the wall will help your decision-making. Clearing intersections with exaggerated head movements side-to-side will help break out of tunnel vision.
Ride the wave, friends. It’s a blast.
Just make sure the wave doesn’t break over your head while you’re looking down.