I had another of those days at work this week. You might recognise them, where you walk out at the end of the day wondering whether you’re arsehole is bored, drilled or countersunk; or with your head spinning which only a good blatt up the dual carriageway with the window down & the bass turned up will touch.
It was all going so swimmingly until Debbie went sick. She did look kind a greenish when she disappeared at speed from the seat next to me. I was sure I could see the telltale signs of small pieces of breakfast forcing it’s way through the five-fingered-spread of a projectile vomit display on route to the ladies.
The gods of chaos must have been watching because it was precisely five minutes later that hell was unleashed.
Someone had a head on which necessitated lots of police resources, meanwhile on the other side of town an old man’s foot slipped off the brake or on the accelerator, I’m not sure which, but the result was him perched on top of the bonnet of a parked car. Being elderly, this also necessitated lots of resources which means lots more work from us inside the control room; elderly people have a habit of dying of injuries most younger people shake off after a few days off work.
Debbie would have been doing much of the work while I sat back, put on my pilot’s voice & directed resources, answered queries & generally smoothed the way for the incident to make its way to a conclusion on the command & control system. She was half way up the dual carriageway heading straight to bed somewhere north of headquarters.
As usual, nobody in the control room noticed the extra stress & strains I was now under, despite there being several supervisors whose role is to help & support but usually just is pointing out my administrative mistakes all day long.
Of course, while these RTCs are going on, there is still the other stuff, domestics, assaults, PNC checks for officers who clearly don’t listen to how busy you are & just want yet another speculative check on an ANPR hit which has outdated & pathetic-level intelligence on it & won’t even result in them bothering to stop it.
Why didn’t you ask for help?, is what happens when you complain about being single-crewed & in blue-arsed fly mode at the irregular team meetings. Good question, I wish I had. But the trouble is that there are times when you reach a critical mass, where there is just so much you have to do that you literally don’t have time to think about asking for help, let alone have enough time to actually find someone to ask. You’re on a fast moving conveyor & sometimes it’s more practical just to stay on it.
You wonder why a supervisor sitting not 3 yards from where you are seems to be in some kind of protected bubble with no idea how busy you appear to be on the radio despite the fact that you’re not actually whispering into the microphone. Miss a checkbox off the result screen when closing a log or using the wrong Home Office closing code & the log comes back to you at the speed of light. Need a little hand because you’re on your own – again – & in the control room, no-one can hear you scream.
Instead of ignoring the phone, which I should have been doing, my naturally helpful nature insists, stupidly, that I answer whilst trying to update logs, do PNC checks, call garages & talk on the radio. It’s another agency wondering why I haven’t done something which they are quiet capable of doing themselves. I resist the tempation to tell them to fuck off & politely explain I’m rather busy before making my excuses & then putting the phone down. When you’re stressed other people’s inadequecies just wind you up even more, although you know it’s something over which you have no control.
An hour & a half has gone past & nodody has come to replace Debbie, who is by now curled round the foot of her own toilet at home. Come to think of it, nobody has actually come to explain that she’s actually gone sick & could I cope for a while until they can get someone to help, I used to call it common courtesy but I expect my supervisors just call it (not) supervising.
Time goes by, pretty quickly, when you’re wrung ragged, & two hours later Sian sits down next to me. “You’re a bit busy they said” I don’t even have time to answer. Sian logs onto the systems, opens a few logs & 5 minutes later I hear the familar phrase, “Sorry I’m late”, from PC Bollocks, who is always late. I hadn’t realised everyone else on my shift had gone home.