Life behind the Thin Blue Line – a novella :)
I think the first time I had a glimmer of what I was getting in to was about six months after Mr Point Five and I had met. He had just started at the academy and I had just handed my driver’s licence in for three months as I had accumulated one point too many. Aherm. It was the first Saturday afterwards and I grabbed my keys to duck down to our local Coles which were literally 200m at the bottom of our street. Hubby looked at me, dumbstruck. What on earth do you think you are doing? he asked. I explained that the car needed a run and we needed groceries. But you have no licence he says. Well, duh I said, rolling my eyes, I’ll drive carefully wont I? No, he said firmly, you won’t and he took the keys off me. I think this was our first major barny and I yelled and screamed at him that I was a grown and independent woman. It was MY choice, MY car, MY bad decision to make and MY consequences to suffer. I was fuming that he was treating me like a child. After I had settled down, we sat together and he explained that because I now live with a Police Officer who is aware of all my actions, my making decisions like that could very well not just cause ME severe consequences, but could also cost him his career and livelihood. I gaped at him. I honestly had never considered it from the point of view that with the knowledge of what I was doing, he would be put between a rock and a very hard place with severe ramifications for him at one end. It was then I realised that not only was my husband (to be) a Police Officer, but exactly what that meant to me, as his wife, and how I must now behave in a much more mature fashion and take responsibility for his job as well as my actions. My poor choices were no longer my own to make and from then on he drove me to Coles every weekend for three months. I cannot think of another profession where a wife/partner shoulders so much responsibility. I mean, a judge or a politician would be frowned upon if they were aware of their partner behaving in such a manner but a Police Officer stands to lose his job and his career.
It’s a rough gig. I am reminded of a quote from TopGun where Maverick is getting ripped a new one by Stinger – “You need to be doing it better, and cleaner than the other guy. Now what is it with you?”
Our first posting was to a town in the Pilbara with about 15-20,000 or so, mostly indigenous. There were about 50 officers up there, most married, and every Friday the little bar at the back of the Station was open to all off duty officers and their families. Kids were welcome and the tropical weather was perfect for the weekly get-togethers. I made friends instantly on our first Friday visit – like a packet cake mix; just add water. Some of the friends I made up there I still count as some of my best ones. Everyone was very welcoming, the staff at the Council, where I got a job as the rates officer before we had G Man, was lovely. They couldn’t care less that I was a coppers missus. Police were welcome in their town, helping with an appalling crime rate, and it showed through the attitudes of the people. If it wasn’t for the swings constantly being stolen from the local park, the slides being crapped on or our shitty police house with a bindy infested backyard, we would happily have stayed. Mr Point Five loved the work up there – never a dull minute in his line of work.
Our second posting was to a little town in the South West of WA, just over an hour from Perth, population about 1500. This was where I experienced my first “coppers missus” story. We lived opposite the town’s only play group and the day we moved in, I let hubby direct removalists and I took G Man over the road where a session was being held. The sand in the sand pit was the type of sand that left grey marks on your skin and one of the kids came running up to her Mum and she had a large bruise-like mark under her eye from the sand pit. The other Mums giggled and teased the child’s mother about beating up her daughter who went bright red and said Shhhh, there is a coppers wife here – she will get you reported! I laughed along but felt so uncomfortable, I left and went home. It was the first time I had felt ostracised, even in jest, because of what my husband did for a living. It took a while without my safety net of other copper wives (there were only four police in town, two were a married couple and the other one’s partner worked a full time job and they had no children), for me to form solid friendships and it wasn’t until one officer left and we got a new one in town that I made best friends with his wife. I’m not sure if it was coincidence, but we clicked straight-away. We seemed to search for, and accept the security of each other and what our husbands did. We could share stories and relate to them, and she understood and sympathised with the crappy hours, the lifestyle and sometimes odd reception.
After having a BFF for just over a year, both our families were transferred once again, them to Laverton and us to another little SW town, two hours down the road, where we are now. Once again I was faced with having to uproot and make all new friends. Trouble was, in a town with a population of barely 300, most of whom were living in the town’s outskirts on farms, this was difficult. I’m not sure whether it was the clickiness of a small farming town, or the fact that I am married to a copper, people certainly aren’t going to tell me, but I have definitely found it most difficult making close friends here. I do have a couple of the towns best I can call my friends here though and I appreciate their support, seeking me out and making sure I am included when I can be. Whilst the town itself welcomes the Police presence, the farmers, if pulled over for speeding can get quite narky and tell the boys in blue to go and catch some real criminals and that they should be allowed to do what they like in “their town”. It’s quite a different mentality with the farming locals here as opposed to the miners from our last town or the natives in the Pilbara. I was dropping G Man off to school one morning and was obviously tardy with indicating my intent to pull into a parking bay. When I got out of my car I was accosted very rudely by a mother who informed me that I didn’t use my flicker. Didn’t I, I said? No, she says, and you should know better being a coppers missus. Don’t think you can get away with it when the rest of us can’t. Again, I was floored by the attitude. I was angry and hurt. Once again, my husband’s work had directed insolence and rudeness towards me from someone who knew me not a jot.
I will say that doing country postings one after another when you have small children is tough. Whilst it makes sense financially, you have no support network to get just a night out alone with your partner. Just when you and the kids get comfortable enough to leave them in someone else’s care, you move. I think I can count on 2 fingers the number of times hubby and I have been out without our kids in the last five and a half years. It makes socialising very tough, its not mentally healthy for new parents and it exacerbates the isolation.
So far, I haven’t seen any ostracising or teasing for G Man at school with regards to his Dad’s job. I think at five, it’s a pretty cool thing for your Dad to do. He gets invited to birthday parties etc now, but how much that changes as he and Master J grow older we will have to watch out for and maybe take some tips from older kids of our Police friends. It is definitely something on my future radar and something I am keenly aware of. I absolutely think that play date invitations are limited due to the fact that not all people are prepared to have a police wife at their house and that’s OK. It would put everyone in a sticky spot. Not everyone is squeaky clean and within reason, I am expected by my husband to judge and report.
Disciplining the kids is another thing I am aware of as well. We pretty much have a zero tolerance for drugs and drink driving, but will have to make sure this is delicately handled as the kids grow up. We definitely don’t want a rebellion on our hands simply because of Mr Point Five’s job and how it is exercised.
TIPS – Don’t marry a copper if keeping up appearances is important to you. More often than not your partner will miss the important occasions which you will plan to go as a family, but it will end up just you stagging it with the kids at the last minute. Police work when everyone else is having fun – there’s the kick in the teeth eh? Expect them to work at least part of Christmas day, every New Years Eve and your Birthday won’t mean a thing to his boss. Weekends are….hang on, what’s a weekend? Rostered times don’t mean shit if they get called to an urgent job 10 minutes before their shift is supposed to end. There is rarely the time to let you know they won’t be coming home and your calls after three hours have passed will usually go unanswered. Give up calling. Dinner is plated up hot, glad wrapped cold, and kids are bathed and put to bed with the promise that Daddy will tuck them in when he gets home. Oh, and that 2am callout? It will be the night before your monthly sleep-in you have had pre-arranged for weeks. Don’t marry a country copper if you like going down to your local watering hole for a meal. The phrase “don’t eat where you shit” might mean something to you if you are in this predicament.
Hope your middle name is Adaptable (or something close to it) if you are married to a Police officer. You will need to be.
Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits of being married to a Boy in Blue – I have had no trouble finding a job here in town when I started looking and I like to think that I am trusted because of what my husband does. At least that reputation is a good one! I imagine this will follow me when we move again, and again……so that’s good. The cheap country housing (Perth has no allowances) is great, as well as having a moving company come to pack up your stuff when you move house too! The comradery amongst the officers and their families is amazing. When we were up in the Pilbara and there were 50 officers, it was like having 50 big brothers up there. If hubby was out on a job, I had a plethora of numbers to call if I heard a bump in the night, had run out of gas or if my TV reception went out. It was wonderful. I STILL raise a wave from the steering wheel at passing police cars on the road – it’s like we are all one big family, a really nice way to live. I am glad our boys will grow up to respect the boys in blue and know that they are to be trusted and can be counted on in times of need. It makes me so mad when I hear mothers threaten their kids with having the nasty policeman come and take them away if they don’t…etc. Grrrr.
Can he tell you about “work stuff”? Most of it is pretty boring to be honest. There are some funny stories which he may tell me about, providing no names are mentioned and definitely not if I may know the person. One particular tale was a bloke he pulled over for speeding. The car reeked of pot and hubby asks him if he had any in the car. Oh, nah mate, the bloke says, I smoked it all in the car on the way here. Things like that to make me laugh every now and then. Obviously, when the phone goes at 2am I want to know what sort of job it is. Not who, or where, but WHAT. A one word answer will do. Because not knowing when you are lying in bed alone at night is worse than knowing and as his wife, he owes me at least that when he leaves on a priority. (Although an answer one night of Shots Fired gave me zero sleep until I heard him walk in the door. I almost rather he fibbed to me that night!) Also, if I know it is going to be a bad one, a fatal perhaps, I can try to be awake for when he gets home to offer him comfort if he needs it. I don’t ask many questions if I know he has been to a bad situation. He will just say it was bad and I will give him a big hug and some down time. If he wants to talk about it more, he is allowed to, to a certain degree and sometimes he does. I don’t push for information, just offer my warmth, affection and maybe share a bottle of wine with him. Mostly it’s enough for him to know I have his back at home and that if needed, I will fiercely guard anything that he tells me close to my heart.
How does your husband handle coming home to the kids after an incident such as this one? After any fatal, serious crash or a rough domestic, Mr Point Five comes home and the first thing he does is search for our boys. He wants to snuggle with them and just breathe them in. He and I look at one another and our eyes are filled with the gratefulness of what we have. Crappy days in his job only make us stronger as a family, more appreciative and thankful for each other and what we have under our roof. The Police are pretty good with the above sort of jobs being flagged and he gets contacted by Chaplains and Counsellors for him to see after attending these jobs if he wishes.
Am I worried about repercussion for his job, as in pissed off clients? Not really. If he gets threatened he will mention that I perhaps should be extra careful making sure the doors are locked and to perhaps not let the kids play out the front. It’s only happened once that I am aware of but what can we do? Scumbags who threaten Police families are idiots. Do they not realise that Police have other Police friends? Having said that, hubby is not in the Organised Crime unit so we haven’t really had much cause for grievance nor had the type of clients capable of such retribution. Most of his jobs are general traffic and attending incidents where he has been called to and where his help is very much welcome.
Does he act like a Police Officer at home, driving for example; does he pull you up for speeding? Hell yes!!! If you read my opening paragraph, you will see why Mr Point Five is such a shitty back seat driver. He drives me mental and we have come very close a number of times to me pulling over and turfing him out! I will only drive out of necessity with him as a passenger. Gah!! As for actually pulling me over and giving me a ticket?? I’d like to see him try. There would be no sex for three months if he did, plus he would have to pay for the ticket. I am actually a reformed driver since I met him. I went from losing my license twice to not having had a ticket in seven years. Well, I call it reformed, he calls it country living and cruise control. He may just be right. God help me when we move back to the city and its multinovas. The rest of the time at home he is just Daddy or my Hubby – I see nothing of the Policeman he is at work when he is at home. I would say they are two different people but I think at work he is just a firmer, more businesslike version of his self at home. I like to think that if there was a good cop/bad cop partnership at work, he would definitely play the good cop. Just don’t tell him I said so J
How do I deal with the worry and stress from being married to a cop? I don’t worry or stress about him at work. It’s his job and he is very good at it. He is equipped with all the cool toys and he has a patient, firm and calm demeanour which serves him well dealing with his clients. People get killed or hurt crossing the street, playing hockey, eating bad food or being bit by a mosquito. When he leaves for work, I assume he will be home (at some point) and I just say to him Stay Safe as he leaves. It’s all I can do.
Worrying is like walking around in the sun with an umbrella expecting it to rain.
Oh, and there is the pride. The pride in the strength and integrity of your husband and being able to stand by his side with the same beliefs. There’s that.
Plus, who doesn’t love a personal lap dance by your very on Boy In Blue, in uniform no less?