One of my coworkers mysteriously died last night. She works graveyard and after she got home early this morning, she was supposed to wake up to take her grandkids somewhere and that is how they found her. It is unknown what happened yet however, I can think of plenty worse ways to go.
Work, to say the least, is very emotional today. She was very well liked and a long time employee at our call center. In our line of work, we often disconnect ourselves from emergencies as a form of self-defense. However, when it happens to you directly or those close to you, disconnecting is impossible.
TH we miss and love you. I hope that you find happiness in your release from here.
The debriefing was last night. It was very sad as expected however, it gave all of us involved a chance to vent and share our grief together. The paramedic who treated the fallen officer was there. You could tell he was really struggling with it and was grateful to have been included.1 We all got a chance to talk and share the experience from our own perspective. I think the PD units were visibly surprised at the deph of concern that we showed.
The meeting started off on a funny note courtesy of my absent-mindedness. My bud had given me a tshirt for Chrismas that read “I have a black belt in crazy” on the front of it2. I didn’t realize I’d warn it underneath my sweater and upon taking my sweater off it sparked a few laughs. I was so completely embarrassed.3 Ironically, I think it set just the right tone for the debriefing to get under way.
I also have to give props here to a certain shift manager who gave us the rest of the evening off. In the past, she has been my arch-enemy on union issues however, she really did show compassion thru this ordeal.
So now, I’m left to focus on the future and the year ahead. I have a reprieve from school for the next 6 months and will have my required EMT hours in by the end of January. Maybe, just maybe, I can squeeze a little bit of a social life in there somewhere.
1 We were happy to invited as well. We are almost always never included. It was frustrating to discover it was not PD that was leaving us out but our own previous management team. 2 I’m fond of saying, I don’t know karate but I do know crazy. The tshirt was a spoof on that. 3 A rare emotion for me.
*This is a bit of a mood-killer so you may want to skip this if you are in good spirits*
The title is a police radio code. It is the worst radio code a police dispatcher in San Francisco could ever hope to hear. It means “Officer down and needs emergency assitance“. I can tell you the painful yell of a police officer who has just realized his partner is down stays with you for the rest of your career.
It is with a very heavy heart I report an SFPD Officer was shot and killed in the line of duty last night. I cannot go into details beyond what has been released to the public. I can say it was a shameful cowardly act. I was directly involved in the incident and words cannot express my dispair over such a loss. The officer in question was relatively new to the force. More importantly, he was a good cop. He represented all the qualities a good cop should have. His death is being felt deeply by all of us in the department.
I had to call off work today. I take the responsibilites of my job very seriously and was just too upset. I admit, I find solace in knowing the murderer is also dead. I know I shouldn’t think that way but I can’t help it. Think or say what you will about the police in general, an officer puts his life on the line every single day he goes to work. That sacrifice demands respect no matter who you are. Growing up the way I did, I’m also a firm believer in an ‘eye for an eye.’1 However, San Francisco is a very liberal city and had the suspect lived he would not have gotten the death penalty. The DA here doesn’t believe in it and wouldn’t have pursued it. That is another topic unto itself however, it comforts me to know the evil this man commited will not be rewarded in prison.2
In an round about way his death has strengthened my resolve to be a Paramedic. I can think of no finer a way to honor his memory. I think it would be an insult to turn away from a path with the potential to do so much good.
Rest in peace Officer Tuvera. You are gone from our lives but you are not gone from our hearts.
1 It is also why I chose not to be a police officer. I know in my heart if I were witness to such an event, I would have ended the suspect with extreme prejudice. 1 “Cop-killers” obtain almost celebrity status in the penal system.
I just sent in a donation to Comic Relief. They are hosting it for Katrina victims this year. Knowing how bad a shape the city is STILL in, it is the least I can do.
I figure if I have money to buy all the fraking gadgets I’m into, I can spare some for people who lost their homes. And this donation doesn’t make my brain hurt from trying to puzzle it out. No, I didn’t donate to a man who waited two years after the fact to announce to the world he was sleeping w/a religious homophobic hypocrite. Nor did I donate to man who most believe got a way with murder and is now writing a tell all book. No, I donated to people who lost everything including their home thru no fault of their own.
I know the holidays are coming up but if you can afford Starbucks once a week, you can afford to make a donation. Big or small it doesn’t matter. Please click on the link above and submit a donation.
A few things you might not know.
The public transist bus system in New Orleans is only running at 25% of their normal operations.
Only half of the existing schools that are not condemned have reopened.
40% of the city is still without power.
Just a few things that help paint a picture of how bad it is in New Orleans TODAY. If you can’t afford to send money, there is no shame in that. If you can, and I bet 90% of my readers can, you should. If for no other reason than it is the right thing to do.
If you haven’t heard by now, there was several shootings at the Halloween event in the Castro last night. Today, the story is making nice soundbites across the blogosphere. If you read this blog on a regular basis you know where my insight comes from.
“Halloween in the Castro” used to be a really fantastic slice of San Francisco attended primarily by the neighborhood’s local gay/lesbian community. Over recent years the event has become a spectator event with 80% of current attendees from out of town. Since 2002, much violence has resulted, ruining this once-special event.
While I am a huge fan of Halloween, I hope they cancel the event next year. I hope they increase the police presence and flat out turn people away. Call me a party-pooper but at least folks won’t get hurt for just trying to have some good old fashioned fun. The event is no longer about the neighborhood getting together for a night of innocent revelling. Instead, it’s a bunch of condescending outsiders looking for an excuse to cause mayhem. Well, here’s your sign. We don’t want you. If you can’t behave like a civilized human being, stay your ass at home and cause grief in your own neighborhoods.
Two wrongs don’t make a right but I can’t help it. My grandmother was a big believer in an “eye for an eye”. I don’t condone violence however, it’s times like these that make me doubt that conviction. Sometimes a good ass-whoopin’ is the only way to get thru to a pig-headed fool.
Today was not a pleasant day. An officer was killed in the line of duty early this morning. To say that we are all sad from the loss is an understatement.
In my line of work, I see death on a daily basis. However, it becomes that much harder when it is one of our own. Most of you know I do not see death as an end.
I didn’t personally know the officer but I worked w/him often. He was a good guy who tried to make a difference. We are diminished as a whole w/o him. But, we will carry on in his memory.
Rest in peace my friend. You light is gone from this world but we take comfort that your light will go on.
One of our regular callers died this past week. Harmless lady, just a bit addled by life and a little fuzzy in the logic dept. She would call us almost daily w/some new story about her husband or son stealing from her. (Both of which have been dead for years.)
The way the system works here is even if we know you are a complete loon, we have to send out the first call of the day to confirm you are, in fact, ok. The beat units know them just as well if not better than we. So, it was a bit of a surprise to see a medical call instead of PD at her address. Sadly, they discovered our dear 799 (senile person) was in fact an 802 (dead). All natural mind you. Nothing suspicious. But still very much 802. It upset several of my coworkers. Besides the obvious surprise, we were all very sad. We talk to her so much she almost felt like family. In the end, we decided to send flowers as a form of respect.
We actually have a whole contingent of crazies who call us often. Some worse than others. We have the “voodoo puppet victim” who is the worst offender and always spews obscenities. The lady who claims the KGB is running sex gadget all over her body as a form of mind control. Another sweet lady albeit loony as a jaybird. Then there is the guy who complains about the automated voice on muni buses harassing him wherever he goes. These are just a few of the more noteworthy ones. Sometimes, if we aren’t too busy, we spend time talking to them. Nothing revealing just casual conversation. Usually this serves to calm’em down and life goes on.
Again, thank you to everyone for the encouragement and support. I got so many emails I don’t think I’ll get to everyone personally. Just know I read every single email and I am grateful for the kind words.
I was angry yesterday. I’m still angry but I’ll get over it. We have so much else to focus on w/o blaming each other. And for those few scathing personal emails sent by the ‘anon’ crowd, well I pity you. How miserable you must be locked in your self-hatred and contempt.
Today, we cleaned out my friends apartment. With the exception of mementos, most of the stuff was junk and we had to throw a lot of it away. His transition thru law school here was only meant to be temporary so he didn’t spend much effort on material stuff. The stuff not thrown out we are donating to Out of the Closet.
I think today was the hardest for my friend’s ex, who is here helping. So many old memories brought to the surface was a bit much for him. My just being there brought him solace I think. For my part, I really just wanted to make sure if my friend did have anything of value it was kept away from his hate-mongering family. We discovered he did have a will but unsure what will come of it. Most of his wordly goods are still in his home back South. I’m sad that his family will probably end up w/much of it. They don’t deserve any of it in my opinion.
I was brought to tears when I discovered a variety of antibiotics in the apartment. Antibiotics that probably would have saved his life if only he’d taken them. I don’t think he really knew what was wrong w/him so it never occurred to him to take them. This hurt me as something so simple but so important was within easy reach. But, I learned a long time ago nothing good can come from the “shoulda coulda woulda” mentality. What’s done is done and I have to move on. All though, I didn’t have the heart to tell his ex. It would have devastated him.
The few items I kept were every day stuff you could pick up at target. Other than a few pictures, I don’t need mementos. He is in my heart and head and he is w/me always. If I’m lucky, I’ll find his soul again one day.
Another friend is putting together a small memorial service later in the week. Nothing fancy, just a gathering of his friends to celebrate his life. Or, at least that’s what I’m hoping for. I made it clear I was not up for a cry fest where everyone gets ridiculously hysterical. That is not what he would have wanted and it never benefits anyone.
This will be the last discussion about my friend’s death on the blog. People laugh at me sometimes when I talk about my blogging experiences. The blog has so enriched my life I really can’t see myself w/o it now. You complete strangers. You constantly renew my faith in the good of humanity. I thank you.
Thank you to everyone for kind words and support. I’m constantly overwhelmed by the amount of love received from complete strangers. (Even though, a huge chunk of you are no longer strangers.) I cannot express in words my gratitude. A special thank you to al from Bent Collective for his very insightful post. A post I will refer back to in a bit.
First, I’d like to answer a few questions about my friend.
No, I will not share his name out of respect for his ex’s wishes.
No, he was not my boyfriend, now or in the past. We were just good friends.
He will be cremated this week after the autopsy.
Yes, the family will claim the body. And I could care less what they do with it now. It’s an empty shell.
His brother has been kind enough to offer me part of his ashes (via his ex). I am hoping this comes to fruition as I would very much like that.
I am at peace knowing my friend knew the people who cared for him most were there when he needed us. My sorrow is still fresh but tempered by my love and belief he is still around. I meet the day w/a smile on my face remembering my friend in love.
It is with a heavy heart that I announce my friend died today. After almost a month in ICU battling HIV related pneumonia, he succombed to the illness. I’m sure his family can rest easy now knowing their “faggot” of a son is dead. And I hope whatever god they believe in visits the pain of their ignorance on theme twicefold in shame.
I am saddened but I am also happy. Happy that he is free of the pain and anguish. Happy, he’ll never know how his family tried to unplug him and take his belongings before having seen him in the hospital. His parents were family by chance, I was his family by choice. I think I got the better end of the deal. He was a beautiful person inside and out and he will be missed. More importantly, he will be remembered. I do not believe death is the end. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll encounter his soul again someday.
And to anyone who thinks AIDS is just another disease, I am here to tell you how wrong you are. With all our knowledge and all our drugs, HIV is still killing us one by one. It doesn’t care what race, sex, creed or orientation we are. It kills indiscriminately. And as long as we continue to hide behind petty prejudices many more will die. It killed my friend out of ignorance. You see, he didn’t know he was poz. He’d never been tested out of fear and shame. He was taught all his life being gay was shameful and evil. He finally had the courage to come out and live his life openly only to die 6 years later.
I am often ashamed of humanity, today is one of those days.