‘Do I have breakfast or do I have lunch? 3pm on a Tuesday and I’ve woken up to the sound of my housemate banging cupboards downstairs.
I replay the events of last night in my head. The drinking, the fighting and the dirty kebab at the end of the night. I look at my hand and there it is stamped like it always is. Not a club logo or a free shot stamp. No. My callsign. TA195.
Like after every night shift I feel like the 7 coffees I had could just have easily been 7 Sambucas. My head is sore, my mouth drier than Ghandis flip flop and the feeling of not having enough sleep aches through me. I remind myself that I have one more shift to go before the promised land of 4 rest days. Well 3 and a half as I will most definitely have the same night shift hangover on my first day off tomorrow that plagues me as I write this.
I manage to shake myself, throw on a tshirt and head downstairs towards the kitchen. I check the front door for post on the way past and head straight for the kettle. I make myself a brew and then head back upstairs to contemplate the meaning of life again.
Last night was an extremely Q night. Unnervingly so. I work as a response officer in a city that I would describe as affluent but a little rough around the edges. Like if kings landing was surrounded by wilding encampments. I respond to 999 calls. You pick up the phone and I arrive a short time later to assist.
I arrived at the station gone just 2130 and kitted up in my usual black number and headed upstairs to the report writing room where some of response team 5s newer members were a lot more enthusiastic than I was.
As the time drifted closer to 2200hrs we drifted closer to the briefing room. When all 6 of us were seated, coffees in hand and discussing our lack of sleep, the inspector walks in. He confirms what we already know; our sergeant is on leave. The callsigns are dished out. This is make or break. I scan the room eyeing up the potential, thinking “please god no”, “that wouldn’t be so bad” or “yes please”. As the names are called out I’m ready once again to put on my awards face – something that I am proud to have perfected. However, every now and again I cannot help letting the image of JOEY TRIBUANI at the Soapie awards slip into my mind.
The crewing gods were thankfully on my side. The next challenge was to find a vehicle. Most of the team hover by the key cabinet (traka), waiting for one of the newer Astras to be placed back. They spring into action at the site of one pulling into the back yard. I on the other hand, in my fragile state, had my eyes set on a Vivaro van. For one simple reason: The radio. Unlike the astras, the vivaro vans have not been stripped of their radios, which can be a shining light in the depths of a cold morning.
With Heart Radio playing U2’s ‘The Streets Have No Name’ we were on our way. We decided to focus our patrols for the evening on the local park and rides. Honest, hardworking people were parking their cars and coming back to find they had been charged more than the hefty parking fee they had agreed to. The method of choice for our criminal was a smash and grab MO and they were particularly attracted to vans.
Whilst admiring how well lit the park and ride car park was we were called to our first incident of the night. A female stating that there was a male outside her property who was smashing one of her windows with a plank of wood. We arrived a short time later. The male had gone. A window had been smashed and by the time we left the aggrieved’s story had changed more times than my duties.
The rest of the night followed suit and by 6am I was on my sixth cup of coffee. Americano with milk is my tipple of choice. I decided sometime ago that I could no longer justify being in my late 20s and drinking cans of Monster or Red Bull.
Back in the report writing room the newbies are now a lot less enthusiastic. After a night of largely dealing with pub fights the whole team is catching up on what had happened throughout the shift. This is when the waiting game starts. The countdown to the sanctuary of our beds and the warming sight of the early team walking through the door nearing closer and closer. 0645 and the radios crack into life.
A member of the public is in the river and shouting for help.
Officers bail out of the station and as a few of us sit there in the cold, cramped report writing room I remember why I love the job.
The commitment of officers cannot be questioned. Even when they are on their last legs they keep trundling along. Even the 0645 hurdle is not enough to deter them. A family of officers working together to protect members of the public even when often it is thankless is something to be admired.
Feeling proud, knackered and hungry as my head hits the pillow. It’s not long til I fall asleep. The sound of a hoover whirring downstairs getting louder and louder.
It’s 3pm! Do I have breakfast or do I have lunch?’
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