This morning while Sandra and I were walking in the wet dark foggy beautiful morning (get used to the copious adjectives. It’s the only way I’ll get enough words into my NANOWRIMO book by November 30th and I’m practicing.) we started talking about school patrols.
Picture “borrowed” from my local Police Service website
Actually, she was talking about wishing we had a stop sign to carry around so people would stop running us over in the dark and I couldn’t help shamelessly telling her that not only was I a school patrol in grade six, I was an HONOR patrol, pretty much the most prestige you can have as a grade six student at my school.
Being an honor patrol meant you got a cool patch for your Girl Guide poncho, respect and awe from the other children, free trips to the roller rink, AND (could there be anything more?) a chance to go to patrol camp out in the mountains. Patrol camp was a place where you were rewarded for your efforts with a teeny bit of training from Constable Harvey and other saintly police officers and then a whole lot of free time with your teenage camp counselors who introduced you to 80s rap music and just the complete coolness that was high school. Then there was a dance….which I was not allowed to go to.*
Any kid’s dream, right? Well, not mine. I had so much fun the whole first day but when night came, I remembered, “Hey, I’m scared of the dark, 11 years old, stuck with a bunch of people who are not like me and listen to fun but probably evil music, and my mommy is nowhere to be seen.” I freaked out. I woke up my counselor and begged her to call my mom and have her come pick me up.
She said, “Let’s go talk to Constable Harvey and see what he thinks.” Hallelujah! I was saved. Constable Harvey was a childhood hero. He was one of the hallowed police force who, as far as I was concerned, practically walked on water. He taught us about bike safety, not talking to strangers and to say no to drugs. This guy was a straight arrow, upstanding citizen I could trust with my life.
So she walked me into a smoky back room where Constable Harvey was SMOKING…dun dun dun….A STOGIE!!!! Stogies are drugs. I thought we were supposed to say no, just say no. The stogie hung from his lips and in his right hand was a glass of LIQUOR and in his left, a hand of PLAYING CARDS for playing POKER. Help, oh help, my sweet and unbesmirched Constable Harvey was now pretty much the closest earthly incarnation of Satan I had come across in my 11 years. SMOKING, DRINKING, and GAMBLING all at the same time. My little Mormon brain nearly exploded. I didn’t know you could do so many bad things at the same time. Constable Harvey was now a stranger……and I wasn’t supposed to talk to them…….according to Constable Harvey…….who I could no longer trust……so maybe I SHOULD talk to strangers…..but then I’d have to talk to HIM and oh yeah, the evilness.
Anyway, Constable Harvey hardly looked up as he spoke to the counselor, telling her to “send the kid back to bed. If we let her talk to her mom on the phone, she’ll only freak out more.” And that was the end of it. I cried myself to sleep in my sleeping bag, in my bunk bed, in a den of sin and just mean meanness.
I have long since come to realize that not everyone has the same beliefs that I do and that’s okay. Not everyone is perfect and if he’d let me call my mom, I would have indeed “freaked out even more.” But it chipped a big chunk out of my childhood innocence and for the first time I realized that police officers weren’t all hiding a halo under their helmets, that not every good man acted exactly like my dad, and that sometimes people were hypocrites. It still makes me sad when I think about it.
On a lighter note, another big moment of disillusionment came when I went away to college and learned that Barnes and Noble was a CHAIN STORE. Okay, gasp if you must because the cat’s out of the bag! The B&N I discovered as a quaint high school hangout in the town where I grew up is not unique in all the world. No, there are definitely more than one. They are, in fact, everywhere. They are not, in fact, quaint. They all, in fact, look the same and here is the scariest part: They are owned by a giant corporation. AHHHHH! Constable Harvey, save us all!
Pick yourself up off the floor. Don’t worry. There is still a Santa Claus and if I lose teeth anytime soon, I will be putting them under my pillow and collecting my 50 cents.
*(In my house, dances were for when you turned 14 and dating for 16.)