Wise Words

"Wait on the Lord, be strong and of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart...wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14


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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hurt so good

So, today I am dealing with a sore body from the waist down and a sinus/upper respiratory infection that I've been trying to fight off the past couple of days, but last night was a total blast! During the Christmas season I work as a Community Emergency Response Team volunteer at our local Christmas attraction here in Austin – the Trail of Lights. The Trail of Lights attracts probably close to half a million visitors every year during its two week run. As a rover who does "undercover security" for a quarter of the mile-long stretch, I see all kinds of things with the people who come out to enjoy the lights. Drunks and stoners – which we help the police apprehend, love-birds, families, friends and various groups. I must have walked at least 5-6 miles last night in steel-toe boots. We had several drunks last night – in fact they were surprised at how many there were. Out of the 9 PI catches (PI=Public Intoxication), 7 of them were mine. I had a great team of 47 general volunteers under me at 10 of the stations who would spot them and radio it in from their stations, which would come through on my radio unit. I would then go over and take away the alcohol containers, if needed, and shadow them if there was the possibility that direct confrontation could prove dangerous. Some of them weren't carrying containers, but it was really easy to tell they were snockered off their rocker. Walking a straight line was above their functional limits.

The first guy was shorter than me and smelled like he hadn't showered in a week – at least and it smelled like he had been pickled in alcohol all day. He was "walking" with a 40 oz. Zima can in his hand. I walked up to him and said, "Good evening sir. I'm sorry but alcoholic beverages are not allowed in the park. I will take that. Thank you." He had seemed a bit befuddled when I took the can from him but was pretty amiable about it – unlike the first drunk of the night who was belligerent and about to get violent with the rover who had made the mistake of confronting him, rather than shadowing him (thankfully not in my section). I shadowed my guy for at least a good 10 minutes, radioing in my position to the net command center every couple of minutes until the park police FINALLY showed up. I was a little miffed at the cops showing up so tardy. It shouldn't have taken them that long to get there, but at least they did get there.

When the guy saw them coming up (they were still at least 100 feet away) he stumbled over the train tracks and tried to get down the embankment to the hike and bike trail, but in doing so he lost his footing and busted on his butt. The cops came up and I told them he had gone into the brush. They dumped their bikes and ran down after him and did the whole field sobriety test, checked his pockets, etc. As they're doing that, I'm guarding the bikes that were abandoned and noticed that they were laying on the train tracks. This is for a small train that people ride on around the park. As luck would have it, they do a Christmas run during the Trail of Lights. I didn't know if I would get in trouble for moving their bikes but I knew that the train was due by again in a couple of minutes so I moved them off the track. When the cops came back with the offender in cuffs they looked at the bikes kind of like "That's not where we left the bikes." They were appreciative though when the train came through a minute later.

Not 20 minutes later it was two women who were walking together – one with a bottle and one with a can. After that it was pretty calm up until right before closing, with the exception of some twit that ran and jumped over the barrier right in front of me and ran to the Nativity scene and knelt and kissed the feet of the baby Jesus. I got him out of there and was giving him the standard "protocol" talk about staying behind the barrier, blah, blah, blah and was trying to figure out if I wanted to call him in when he said "I'm a member of the Roman Catholic Arch Diocese here in Austin and I HAD to pay my respects." One of the women he was with said "Oh PLEASE don't tell them that, they'll hate us for sure." This guy was a wee bit intoxicated, more tipsy than drunk but he was with friends and he wasn't overly tipsy, just a bit friendly and enthusiastic so I let him go with the warning to stay on the trail side of the barrier and asked his friends to keep an eye on him or else someone else would catch him in a different section. Nothing more was heard about that guy so apparently his friends did a good job of keeping him under control. He would have been # 8 for me, but I felt like giving him a break.

Finally, near closing, it was two guys and a girl walking out of the woods and one guy had a beer can in his hand. I was pretty sure it was a Dos Equis can so I shadowed them, radioing in their description and our position. They were questioned by the cops and let go after having their alcohol confiscated. I was right, it was a Dos Equis can. Do I know my beer cans or what? Well, um, that didn't come out quite right. They were heading home (walking) so that is the reason they were let go. The cops explained that if they had chosen to stay at the venue, then they would have been arrested.

Within two minutes of that, there was someone else who was a PI and dumping some little baggies, etc. from his pockets as he was being radioed in with the description so the cops came back and searched him, etc. As they were cuffing him, I told the cops that I was sure I would be seeing them the other nights I was working (6 more nights through next Saturday) and one of them chuckled and said, "Well, judging by tonight, I'm sure we'll be seeing plenty of you again." Heeheehee!

By the time I was done helping net command check back in the radios, etc. from the other volunteers and got home, my body, especially my back was so stiff I could hardly walk. It doesn't help that I was running a lot in the steel-toes. I sat down on the couch to check email, etc. around 11:15 and when I got up, I literally had to hold on to things to walk until my back loosened up. I tell ya what – 11 years of gymnastics certainly took its toll on my body (especially my back) and I felt all of 80 last night. Getting old before my time. I REALLY need to get into an exercise routine to help strengthen my back (and lose some weight). I'm sure by next week Saturday that I will have no problems with this, but right now – OY MY ACHIN' BACK!!!

Still, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I had a blast, got picked up for another night b/c of the good job I did last night and got to see some really beautiful lights for free. :)

I can't stop yawning. I am extremely exhausted from the upper respiratory crud I'm fighting, but at least part of it is also a good exhausted! I was going to go to a concert tomorrow (Charlie Robison - he's awesome!), but I think I'll rest up for working the next several days at the TOL and try and get over being sick. I'm heading to bed very early tonight.

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