Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pet Peeves and Giving Thanks

I should have known better.  Really.  It played on the Lifetime Channel and an adventure story on Lifetime usually has issues...  Still, I got sucked in.  After all, what could go wrong with a television movie made from a compelling crime novel with engaging characters and spot-on research?  Yup, rhetorical.

First.  When an officer carries a gun, it's loaded and ready to go.  No need to drop the magazine and check for bullets, no need to rack the slide and chamber a round.  That takes time, and when a cop needs a gun, time is a valuable commodity not to be squandered.

Second.  Air support and patrol cars rarely arrive at any rally point simultaneously.  Forget for a moment that helicopters and cars travel at different speeds, just ponder the path of a crow and then muse a second about a road peppered with traffic lights.  Don't even get me started on the likelihood of a small department owning a helicopter.

Third.  If the protagonist is being stalked and her boyfriend is in law enforcement, he is not going to hide in her house to "surprise" her--especially, since she's recently taken up the habit of carrying a gun.  That combo makes for a very messy reunion.

Fourth.  If officers announce themselves to a crook from a half block or more away, the crook will run.  It's in the genetic makeup of criminals the world over.  Only the greenest rookie would be surprised.  Once. Which is why the hotshot hero would be within grabbing proximity before telling anyone he's just won a oneway trip to the GreyBar hotel.

Finally.  On the day before Thanksgiving, I want to point out that Lifetime is taking compelling crime novels with engaging characters and making them into television programs that reach an audience that may not already be familiar with a particular writer's work.  Which is exactly what happened with me.  Although I poke fun at some of the inaccuracies of the movie, the story intrigued me enough to buy the book, and then the next one and the one after that.  I have several more novels to read before catching up with the author.   For that, and so many other blessings in my life, I am thankful.

Friday, November 11, 2011

On The Other Side

I worked as a police officer for over two decades.  I've arrested, helped and annoyed a lot of people.  Fortunately, I've rarely had to utilize emergency services personally.  That changed this past Monday.

Last Saturday, my mother was involved in a car collision where she was rear-ended while stopped for a red light.  Major damage to both cars.  The police officer drove her home despite the fact that she lived in another city.  Score one for the police.

I flew to California from Florida to assist my mother.  On Monday she had a doctor's appointment.  As we were driving home from that appointment, my mother had a medical emergency in the car.  Her head lolled, one eye dilated, she couldn't speak.  Fortunately, we were within a couple blocks of an emergency room and--more importantly--I knew where to turn.  As we pulled into the ambulance bay, she snapped out of it with no recollection.  I got her inside and told the nurse I thought my mother had just suffered a stroke and was handed a clipboard to fill out, then a pager that would go off when they could see us.  As I worked myself into a ballistic froth, Mom had a seizure.  Triage revealed a heart rate in the high 30's and an abysmal blood pressure rate.  That got their attention.  Mom moved to the top of the list.

Never ask yourself if your day can get worse.  Invariably, it can. I left my mother to move the car from in front of the ER.  I arrived to find a security guard trying to jimmy the locks to tow it.  Thirty-five dollars and a lecture later, I found a new parking space.  The guard did, however, say that he would pray for my mother and in times like this, any help is appreciated.

Mom spent the day in the ER and the nurse and doctors there showed far more attentiveness and compassion than the triage nurse, although to be fair, that nurse came in after my mother regained consciousness to tell Mom that she had given her quite a scare.  Not exactly what a daughter wants to hear.

Emergency surgery, ICU, a different doctor every hour--I got to experience the whole gamut from an outsider's perspective.  I am happy to say that Mom is a tough cookie and is recuperating at home now with a brand new pacemaker to keep her company.

As a writer it is easy to paint characters in broad strokes.  Nurses are modern day Florence Nightengales, cops are either rotten to the core or as altruistic as Ghandi. It's not that easy-- and if your characters are portrayed so black and white, they become unbelievable caricatures. Readers need to connect with the people who live in your story.  There were people I wanted to strangle and those I wanted to hug throughout my mother's ordeal.  I'm pretty sure that there were people who wanted to strangle me, too. 

Guess that makes us even.