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  • Greetings

    I have been reading and posting on this forum for a couple of months and thought I'd make a post in the meet and greet area.

    I live and work in the Chicago area where I have lived all my life except for a few years spent in upstate New York. I am a telecom engineer and specialize in working with avaya pbx systems.

    I have had an interest in law enforcement since I was a child. As I grew I realized that I probably did not have the physical and mental characteristics that would make for a good police officer and so I pursued other interests. I find it ironic when I read those posts in the Ask the Cop area from guys who "always wanted to be a cop" and they have a clean record except for "X"! I have a completely clean record. I've never even had a moving violation but I know that I wouldn't make a very good cop.

    Anyway I did want to share a couple of stories about my best experiences with law enforcement. The first one is from the late '60s and I was only a couple of years old. Obviously I have no memory of this but it is a family story that has gotten told at many family gatherings through the years. My Dad was the Director of Guidance at the high school in the town that I grew up in the far north suburbs of Chicago. He was working on his Masters degree and was planning on taking a class in Texas over one summer in the late '60s.

    For some reason he thought it would be a good idea to take his wife and six children (I was the youngest) to Texas for the summer. So he rented a U-Haul trailer and we loaded up the station wagon and headed to Texas! He rented three motel rooms in a strip-style motel at the far end of the strip. The few silver linings in this plan were that we had air conditioning which we didn't have at home, there was a pool which we didn't have (or have access to) at home and we didn't have to do any outdoor chores. The summer went along pretty uneventful and the locals that we met around the motel were very nice. Although it was hot the locals all told us that it was really a pretty mild summer. So as it turned out it wasn't really any hotter there than we were used to in Illinois and we had air conditioning! We didn't even have air conditioning in our station wagon.

    However, this is all just back story. Not necessary but I like to see myself type! The meat of this story was the trip back. My Dad rented another U-Haul trailer and we packed up and headed back north. We were not yet out of Texas yet but we were north of Dallas (we had been staying all summer in the Houston area) when a cop came behind us and turned on his lights and siren. My Dad pulled over and the cop came up to the window. He asked my Dad if he knew that there was something wrong with the trailer. My Dad said that he didn't and the cop suggested that he drive real slow to the next intersection. He told him there was a closed down filling station there that he could pull into and they'd take a closer look. The road that we were on was a really narrow two lane country road without a real shoulder so it was dangerous to stay where we where. The cop said he'd turn on his lights and drive behind us. As we were driving it started to become obvious that there was something wrong with the trailer. It was kind of "limping" if a trailer could limp.

    We got to the closed filling station and pulled into the lot. My Dad and cop took a look a look at it. There was something wrong with the axle and it seemed to have almost broken off before we got to the abandoned station. There was still a working telephone at the lot and my Dad started making calls to U-Haul. It was just about lunch time so my Mom started making lunches out of our cooler and us kids started to play the types of games that kids play when stuck on a lot in the middle of no where. I believe the cop was a county sheriff's deputy but I'm not sure. I'm pretty sure that we were not in a town so I don't think it would have been a local municipality cop. After my Dad contacted U-Haul they told him that they would have someone there to help us out within two hours. The deputy said that he had to get back on his patrol but that he'd check back on us later. We had lunch and hung out in the old lot as there was nothing else to do.

    An hour later the deputy returned followed by a truck which turned out to be driven by a guy from the local U-Haul place that was being sent to help us. Turns out the deputy drove to the U-Haul place and made sure that the guy got the message and was coming out as soon as he could. So the U-Haul guy talks to my Dad and tells him that he doesn't have another trailer our size to replace ours with and he can't repair the trailer we have. He tells my Dad that he's going to have to either pay for the difference of a larger trailer or wait until tomorrow when he can deliver a replacement trailer. The deputy has been listening to this exchange and walks over to the U-Haul guy and says "Listen to me for a second Charlie" (he said Charlie really drawn out like Charrrr LEE). "You're going to go get these folks a trailer. Either the same size or bigger. You're not going to charge them anything and you're going to have that trailer here in less than two hours. They've been waiting here long enough and its not their fault that the trailer broke. Do what's right and then everyone can get on their way."

    Charlie and deputy drove off after Charlie agreed to do the right thing. Charlie was back within an hour with a slightly larger trailer and two more guys to help us move our stuff from one trailer to the other. After a few hour delay we were back off on our journey home.

    That deputy might have saved our lives by spotting the misbehaving trailer before it broke completely. We were probably driving 60 mph on a two lane country road. Who knows what would have happened if it had broken while we were driving at that speed. He certainly helped to negotiate our timely replacement trailer! He was a cool dude.

    ************************************************** ****************

    My second story takes place in 1993. My Father-In-Law, Merv, had worked for a large chemical company in the Chicago area for over 20 years. But through all the acquisitions and mergers in the '80s his job as the Director of outdoor maintenance was being eliminated. The need for their sprawling Illinois campus had long been over and they were in the process of selling it off. The early '90s was not a great time for a gray haired man to be looking for a large corporate job so Merv looked in other areas. Strange as it may seem to some he was drawn to long haul trucking and got a job as a driver with one of the large trucking companies.

    He had two years of safe driving under his belt by the time April of 1993 rolled around. He pulled into Indianapolis at 3pm and dropped off a trailer and then went to a local motel. He picked up a new trailer bound for the west coast at 5am. By 6am he was fighting for his life. The exact events of what happened are unknown to us and Merv has no memory of anything that happened after he checked into the motel. The nurse at the ER said that Merv was conscious and talking when he came in. She said that Merv told her that a car had cut right in front of him on I-70 just west of Indianapolis. He said he swerved to miss the car and lost control of his rig and ended up in a ditch. Merv was sedated shortly after that and kept in a chemical coma for weeks. When he emerged from the forced coma he no longer remembered the accident.

    An Indiana State Trooper was first on the scene. He told my Mother-In-Law that he had been patrolling I-70 all night and at 6am he was just a little west of Indianapolis when a set of skid marks on the road caught his eye. He was sure that he hadn't seen them the last time that he had been by this section of road. He slowed down. There was a very steep incline off the road to where the skid marks pointed and he could not see the bottom. However he did see that the skid marks led to tracks in the gravel shoulder. He came to a stop and got out of his vehicle. As he made his way down the incline he saw that there was a tractor-trailer in the deep ditch and it was mostly under water. A wet spring had added plenty of water to the ditch. The Trooper waded/swam through the water and climbed up to the cab. He opened it to find the driver (Merv) up to his neck in water and unconscious. Merv's head was slumped in such a way that he was starting to inhale water and the trooper held up his head until help arrived.

    Merv was banged up but his biggest problem was a torn aorta. He wound up being air lifted from the local ER to Indianapolis where they replaced his aorta with a donor aorta. The chances of someone surviving an injury like that in a vehicle accident where he gets to a trauma hospital in a few minutes are slim. Merv beat the odds on that one and after his recovery he remains one of the strongest men I know. But he wouldn't have even had a shot had that State Trooper not been keenly aware and discovered the accident. Merv would have drowned in a few minutes and never would have had the chance to beat the odds of his injury. My daughter was born a few months later. Merv's first grand child. I think of that Trooper and what he did every time Merv comes to one of my daughter's concerts or a birthday...just one moment of being in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing has made such a big difference in so many lives.

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