Many people know that I’ve been a cop and that I am a police dispatcher. Those close to me know that I always work Christmas Eve and Christmas. This isn’t a hardship for me. Being a Pagan I celebrate Yule, which is on a different day entirely. I work the “holiday” so that fellow dispatchers who celebrate it with their families can do so. People frequently comment that they expect that this is also not a hardship for me because it will no doubt be a quiet shift, being Christmas, which we all know is a time of peace on earth and goodwill to men.
It would be nice if it was. For first responders, Christmas is typically one of the busiest days of the year.
From a cop’s perspective, Christmas is the time of year when people who haven’t seen each other for a long time get together, have a few drinks, and then remember why they haven’t seen each other for a long time. This results in a seemingly endless round of code three runs* to family gatherings transformed into mêlées. I consistently rescued more children from family bloodbaths at Christmas than at any other time of the year (my record, if you’re interested, is eleven kids in one shift). It’s a flurry of fire crews racing to extinguish incinerating turkeys before the inferno incinerates the entire house and the clan within. Christmas is an incessant series of races to accident scenes to deal with the carnage caused by people from the aforementioned gatherings driving home drunk. It is a continuous series of runs to bridges and roofs to rescue people rendered suicidal by reduced light levels and anxiety caused by comparing their situation to the happy scenes depicted in the commercials and the store front displays. It’s a lengthy series of break and enter reports involving thieves who have made off with everything under the tree so that they can sell it at ten cents on the dollar or who have stolen anything with your name on it so that they can apply for fifty credit cards in your name to purchase drugs in order to commit slow motion suicide.
And being a holiday and especially due to the economy being in the state that it is in these days, this is all handled with bare minimum manpower, since the city and province want to pay out as little holiday pay as they can possibly get away with. Which should be no problem, right? It should be quiet, because it’s a time of peace on earth and good will to men, right?
So as the sun comes up on Boxing Day hopefully all of these exhausted first responders stagger home and collapse, thankful to have somehow survived this time of peace and good will yet again.
So why am I telling you this? So that you can better appreciate what you have and who you’re with. So that you can do whatever you can to actually make that world out there a place of peace and good will. And so that, hopefully, you’ll send some kind thoughts to those out there who are racing around patching things up as best they can so that you can have a reasonably safe and pleasant holiday season.
*(that’s lights and sirens for you civilians)