Wednesday, February 06, 2008

"I heard..."

Talking with Vinnie in the locker room at the end of a wild, busy shift:
"This one big guy, the guy DC called on, for a second I thought he was going to get brave."
"Yeah," Vinnie said, "I heard that you even put down your coffee cup."
"Everyone knows, you put down the coffee cup, it's last chance."

Everyone?  One of the big motivators to applying for the desk job was a real fear that there was something wrong with me on a very deep level.  I'd found myself fully engaged with an amateur boxer (he got the first move at extremely close range) and as he literally bent over backwards before hitting the floor, I'd been composing the report in my mind, not really interested in what he was doing or what I was doing either.  Before that (long story) a local agency had chased a car thief into my neighborhood.  The pursuing officers had jumped the fence into my backyard, where I happened to be, wondering what the commotion was about.  I was staring down  five guns with excited, largely rookie officers behind them.  I was the only calm one at the scene.  Last example- yawning while a 300 pound biker threatened me.
If that sounds like bragging, it isn't.  A data point- at one time my adrenals were so burnt out that unless I was actively being shot at I was bored.

There's a level of adrenaline, a trickle, that tugs at the corner of your mouth and crinkles your eyes and makes you fell very alive, very present in the moment.  It took a year off to get that back, and it's great.  But in the course of the year I'd expected things to move on.  I'd expected that someone else would step into the ready position, someone else would just be expected to deal with the problem children.  No one else has stepped up (that's not true- we have many good officers who deal every day with situations that would make a clinical psychologist choke or that some Federal enforcement officer would be analyzing in books for decades), but no one has stepped up to the extent that I'm forgotten.

Have you ever heard of the Johari Window?  It's a psych concept where you imagine yourself as a square with a vertical bar and a horizontal bar.  Everything to the left of the vertical bar are the things you know about yourself.  To the right are the unknown things.  Above the horizontal bar are the things others know about you.  Below the bar are the things others don't know about you.
Part of skillful living is to try to move your vertical bar as far to the right as possible- to know everything you can about yourself.  The window implies that there are always things things that others know about you that you don't.  What others can see sometimes (often, if you don't really examine yourself) is more accurate than what we choose to believe about ourselves.
So I keep my ears open for little hints, like, "Everyone knows..."

Years ago, Mike pointed out the position I took when force was about to happen. That was okay with me because the position (which I call the 'modified Columbo') was a purely conscious choice... but he also pointed out a specific thing I do with my wrist just in the instant of 'go'.  that bothered me a little. Partially because it was unconscious (effective, believe me, but unconscious) but also because I'm not used to anyone else looking for minor battle tells.  That was when I was absolutely sure that Mike would be a superb team leader.

Invisible to me, but "everyone knows" even the inmates that haven't worked directly with me before. Put down the coffee cup and it's the last chance.
That's what I heard.


Kai Jones said...

You are a mythological figure. I wonder what other legends will accumulate around you.

Steve Perry said...

I'm good with the idea of keeping a poker face, and not allowing tells give anything away, but putting down your coffee cup as a prelude to moving seems like a good idea, unless you want to be slinging Starbucks all over.

You could take it along, but I expect that whacking somebody with it would be frowned upon, so you have to lose it along the way or try and do that scene Dolph Lundgren does in Showdown in Little Tokyo.(Which has one of my all-time favorite movie lines in it. When Dolph and Brandon are about to get attacked by a small army of bad guys, and Dolph has just padded back into the house naked from the hot tub. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to blow an artery.)

You gotta leave the chair and stand up, and I supposed that might be a tell, but

Molly said...

Seriously - you have to put the cup down? What if you need a sip during the incident? If you could do what you do without spilling a drop - THAT would be impressive!

Rory said...

Actually, sister dear, I've done that. I didn't realize I was still holding my cup until the threat was down and I was kneeling on his elbow and neck and a rookie whispered, "Sarge didn't even spill his coffee."

It was in a travel cup with a lid, and I hadn't actually had time... but it was kind of cool. It's also when a lot of things that used to be big adventures became kind of routine. Just a job.

If you occasionally made it to an ABBB you'd hear about these things when they happen.

Sonia said...

Until you've seen Rory put down a coffee cup, man, you have NOT lived. Oh yeah.

"You call yourself a coffee cup? I've seen styrofoam shreds with more coffee-cup about them than you have."


Kai Jones said...

Chuck Norris doesn't use coffee cups. The coffee makes itself in appropriate gulp-sized globs right in his mouth.

Bram said...

"I hope I don't live in a world that punishes excellence for the crime of excellence." taken from the entry SMEs (January 2008)

"One of the big motivators to applying for the desk job was a real fear that there was something wrong with me on a very deep level." taken from this entry

You're afraid of living in a world that punishes excellence, but when you become so excellent at your job that others look at you like you're alien, you fear there's something wrong with you. You're psychologically better prepared and have vast experience with these situations, which leads to a decrease in adrenaline stress. Nothing wrong with that, it's why skydivers go base jumping, why skiers go higher, further, faster. At least, that's how I see it.