[su_dropcap style=”flat”]W[/su_dropcap]ELCOME BACK kind readers for another “helping” from the “gumshoe stew pot” of memories.
To start this real life account, let me let you in on one thing that is experienced among all real street “warrior” cops within their first “formative” years “on the job” – the same nightmare. This “police shared” nightmare that happened to me quite frequently during my “rookie” years as a neophyte crime fighter always was the same “nightmare” scenario under similar circumstances. This was the type of nightmare that would have me “bolt-up” in my bed and I would feel “cold sweat” all over my body that had me actually shiver.
Sometimes, I would try to cry out in a guttural scream from my sleeping nightmare world to my conscious world but it would somehow become lodged in my throat and it would prevent me from being able to breathe. (Ahhhhh!).
Okay, you may have already thought that these nightmares were caused by having sleep apnea (NO!) or my poor diet of graveyard cuisine of fast food via the gourmet kitchens of the “7/11” or “Mickey D’s” that I woofed-down on my duty “code 7” meal breaks. (NOT!)
I just thought that these nightmares were unique to me. Just caused by my constant adjustment of my circadian rhythms from working graveyard and then trying to adjust to the “normal” family sleep schedule on my days off. I decided to keep these personal nightmares to myself. After all, I was the big, brave, street monster in blue and former US Marine to boot! I would not be defeated by some dream time escapades!
I might be sleep deprived and sacrificing some REM time but “Gung Ho!” Carry on, or in the immortal words of Monty Python, “It’s only a flesh wound!”
Fortunately, being a new cop with no seniority pretty much meant that I would be assigned a graveyard shift. This had me sleeping alone during the day when my wife was not my “bedmate”. So she was never privy to these periodic nightmare episodes.
Now let me describe the repeated nightmare to you folks.
I always found myself alone on duty walking down a dark alley or sometimes in a large industrial warehouse. I would suddenly come upon a suspect or suspects involved in some crime (I never found out what type of nefarious activity) and the suspect/s would immediately meet my arrival with a hail of gunfire! My legs would no longer be capable of moving and my pistol would be impossible for me to draw it from my holster.
Sometimes in the dream, I could draw the pistol but then it would not be able to fire! I was a cop who was totally helpless, unable to move, unable to act, just trapped! This was the point of my nightmare when I would attempt to cry out and “bolt-up” awake!
It was only many years later that I learned from my other close friends who were cops that they had experienced the same and recurrent “nightmares” also as freshmen cops on the streets.
You see folks, during the interim period when new cops make that transition to veteran cops, they all experience fear. It is not the physical fear, mind you, it is the fear of responding to a dispatched “911” call and not knowing what to do! Not being able to help the victim because you can’t even help yourself.
In time, I learned through “OJT” (on the job training) that to emotionally slow down and to mentally discipline myself when handling call – no matter what. In layman terms, “If no one was bleeding, take a deep breath, the cops were en route!” I learned that the best thing to do was to control myself before I could attempt to control anything else. Additionally, I always believed that God was with me and that He would see me through – and He did! I still here to tell the tale. Amen!
Funny, as I gained more “field experience” these nightmares started to fade away and disappear entirely from my nite-nite times. If I ever did “bolt-up” in my sleep – it was to pursue a less dangerous goals in which my equipment would function without fail!
Until next time folks, love the ones who love you.