The cows had hundreds of acres to roam in, but most mornings preferred to be down in the front part of the vast property still quite a distance from the house; a range of at least a quarter mile. Never the less, each morning as I made my appearance from out of the back kitchen door, regardless of how far away the herd was, each member would raise its massive head to stare at me. It really was quite unnerving as they froze in place, their huge bulging eyes the only part of them moving, following my progress as I made my way to my car. I am convinced that cows are really undercover agents. Of whom, I have not yet discovered, but they seem to be in cahoots with the groundhogs, I have seen cows whispering into groundhog holes while I safely peered from between the window blinds so as not to tip them off that I was on to them. The groundhogs of course have set up a perfect and elaborate underground system, ideal for surveillance, and are known subversives. Why do you think that you see them on the side of the road, standing and looking around, appearing quite innocent? I know that they look like they are just enjoying a quick meal, but honestly, how many times have you actually seen one run over? Raccoons, possums, cats and dogs, yes, all the time, but groundhogs? No, they are much too smart to be hit by a car while secretly collecting data for their command center. And with those round fuzzy cheeks and cute buck teeth, who could possibly suspect them of covert actions?
But I digress; this morning’s great cow break-out prompted me to ponder the work day of the average country police officer. Sure, you’ve got your criminal element in the country as well as the city, but fortunately for us, the crime rate isn’t nearly as staggering. So aside from driving endless miles of back country roads looking for escaped bovine, how exciting is a day in the life of the typical deputy sheriff? Certainly, pulling on that snazzy brown and tan polyester uniform might rev the guy up a bit, and hoisting on that groovy belt with all of the really cool cop gadgets on it must be thrilling, but really, how dapper does one have to look to rustle up some cattle?
My first contact with the local police department was while I was moving into the house we now live in. I was moving from the above mentioned farm house, two hours east to Lousia,Virginia. I was a very new parent having only adopted my first daughter two months previous and was in the midst of severe New Parent Brain. (Let me here suggest NOT trying to move life and household after recently having traveled halfway around the world and adding small baby to single parent family…live and learn). So I have just arrived back to Fincastle after moving vast amounts of stuff to Louisa when I suddenly realize that I have left the front door open. Not just unlocked, mind, but unlocked and standing wide open to the street. I know none of my neighbors names yet, nor anyone who lives within a hundred miles of the place. Am I actually going to have to drive a round trip of 4 hours back there with the baby to shut the door at 11 pm?! So I decide to call the local police department and ask if they can please go and shut the door. They could lock the front door and go out the back. The back door locks with a key and cannot be pulled shut while the lock is engaged, I suppose to prevent people with New Parent Brain from locking themselves out, but I tell them that it’s okay, the back door can be unlocked as long as it is shut, as they have assured me of the safe area into which I am moving.
Besides, I will again be back the next day with another load of stuff that apparently I am incapable of living without. I am told that they will call soon and give me an update. Several hours later I get the call; I am assured by an officer with a somewhat amused tone in his voice, that all is well and the house is locked up. And as a bonus, they have managed to also lock the un-lockable back door. “Uh, okay.” I say, “Thanks.” I have no idea how they have achieved this, but I am too tired to care, and go back to some much needed sleep confident of my new home and content’s safety.
The next day I trek on back to the central part of the state and find everything safe, and indeed the back door as well as the front door are closed and locked. “Huh.” I think to myself. As I am making my way out to the truck for what seems like the billionth load of unnecessary possessions, I am hailed by two of my new neighbors to the fence between our yards. They are wearing gleeful smiles and this alone makes me like them immediately. They ask if I had called the police the night before. I admitted that yes I did and explain about the door being left open. “Oh…..” they look at each other and grin. “Okay, what’s the joke?” I ask.
“Well,” mother Edith and daughter Theresa merrily tell me, “one cruiser with one officer showed up with lights flashing and began looking all around the house late last night, he then went into your house and we could see the flashlight beam zig zagging through the windows.”
“But why on earth didn’t he just turn on the lights? The electricity has been on for a week now,” I ask.
They laugh, “Who knows? Anyway, we knew why he was there since we have a police scanner, so we weren’t too worried. We watch him from the window as he closes and locks all your doors. And then he tries to leave by going through one of your back windows.”
“What?! But I told them to just leave the back door unlocked, why in blazes would he do that?” I am flummoxed and Edith and Theresa look ready to burst with withheld laughter.
“And...” they say, “as Mister Officer gets halfway out the window, which is quite small and he being quite, um, large, he gets stuck!
“What?!” I cry again, beginning to picture the scene in my mind.
“Oh yes, his gadget belt kept him from progressing further out the window, while the size of his middle kept him from moving back into the room, especially since his feet were now off the ground giving him no traction.”
“Oh dear! So what did he do?” I feel an uncontrollable need to giggle coming on.
“Do? He had to call for backup of course!” says Theresa. And it is at this point that we all burst into gales of laughter. Once I can again speak, I ask how he was able to call for back up. Fortunately for him, his radio was attached to his shoulder and not his belt. I now understand why it took so long for the police to get back to me and why the officer I spoke with sounded so amused.
“So what happened next?”
“Well, we could hear the dispatcher on the scanner telling two other units to go and assist officer 'so and so', that he had a situation.’
'What kind of situation?’ the answering officer asks.
'He's stuck in a window,' says the dispatcher.
'Stuck in a window.'
'Ten-four dispatch, we're on our way.' ”
At this point tears of laughter are pouring down our faces and a lasting friendship has begun between us, for which I am daily grateful as they are the best of neighbors.
“So how did they get him out?”, I ask.
“Removed his gadget belt and just pulled real hard. Laughing their heads off at him the whole time of course.”
We all expel sighs of exhausted contentment brought on by a good hearty laugh. Yup, I am willing to bet that that was a police situation out of the ordinary for Mister Country Sheriff and that he STILL hasn't lived it down. To this day I can't clean that window without giggling a little imagining the scene.
So here's to you my brave and determined public servant… Salute!!