How Old Are You?

Working with men is a very different experience than working with females or mixed groups. I have come to realize that they really are just eight year old boys that are tall, whose hormones have gone astray and if a pretty girl walks by them, well, they become babbling idiots!

Dinky Cars
Dinky Cars, done with the iphone 6.

And so starts my day, each day with Ralph, that lovable, yet maddeningly infuriating partner I love and hate to work with. Every day we have to go through an equipment check. Turn on all the emergency lights, check. Play all the different sirens available to us, check.  Pull out the back seat and ensure nothing was left there by an arrested party, check. Walk around the car and make sure no one rammed the scout into a guard rail and left in in the lot with damage, check. Then lastly, is test the camera and audio equipment inside the scout car.  Now this is where Ralph becomes truly annoying. You see, I rush to the car, doing all the checks and trying to get through them before he joins me. He usually talks to his male counterparts and has a smoke before getting to the scout. It’s really self-preservation because he generally leaves me with bruises otherwise. What I mean is, even when I have already checked the in-scout recording system, Ralph feels he must personally check it himself. He’ll come in and just run the sirens for all too long, all the while I’m looking at him, giving him the cut-eye because it’s noisy and bothers the neighbours. But like an eight year old in defiance, he’ll let it go that extra 20 seconds making it an irritation rather than a test. Then there’s the rest of the test where we check the audio. We have to speak and check three microphones. The way he does this is always the same. He cues the microphone, then looks at me with a twinkle in his eye, takes his very boney elbow and slams in into my bicep. Of course I scream ‘ouch’, which confirms for us the microphone is picking up the audio. But we are not done! There are two more microphones, and he digs that boney elbow into the same place all three times! I mean, by the end, my arm hurts, is bruised, and he just makes fun of me when I complain of pain. And of course the recordings get a little interesting too. I mean, by the second hit, I’m calling him every name in the book and by the third, I’m accusing him of assault on the recorder. Of course, he says nothing during the test. And it’s the same thing every day, day in and day out. And everyday, while we go through this ritual, I ask him, “How old are you?” and “Do we really have to do this every day.” It all just gets recorded and he just smiles saying nothing and away we go. The start of every shift together, argh!

Silly boy though. One day when I was using the hand sanitizer to disinfect my hands, I saw him screw up his nose, quite uncomfortable with the odor. “You don’t like the smell?” I asked innocently. And much to his chagrin, he answered truthfully. “No, I can’t stand the smell. Keep that stuff away from me.” Ah, I found his kryptonite. And yes you guessed it. I often torture him with the smell of it, especially when he has pissed me off. I wait until we are in the car, and he is trapped behind the wheel driving. Then I lather up, almost to the elbows and watch as his nose shrivels up. Then to top it off and ensure I’ve made my point, I take my two hands and wave them right in front of his face, wafting the fragrance with my hands. He usually just pushes my hands away, groaning. Yes, sometimes it IS fun to be eight years old!

I found out the best secret though. He is totally neurotic about garbage in our scout car. He can’t stand having any Tim Horton’s cups or left over food in the car. I have barely finished my coffee before he is grabbing it from me to put in the garbage. The best thing is he doesn’t even care if I get rid of the garbage or not. He is quite happy to gather it all himself and dispose of it. I mean, even the stuff he can’t see but knows is there, can drive him nuts. Like when we’ve eaten and I throw my garbage on the floor at my feet. He can’t see it, but he knows it’s in the scout. He has to have it out of the scout and when I leave, he’ll come over and grab it and get rid of it. He didn’t know I knew about this neurosis until one day, we were in the hospital on prisoner watch. It had been a very long and boring night. As our shift was approaching the end, I turned to him and went to hand him my empty Tim Horton’s cup, as I had just finished my coffee. He just looked at me without reaching for the cup and said “Why are you giving me that?” and I said “To throw out.” He looked at me in amazement or maybe it was disdain as he said “I’m not throwing that out. You do it.” I just looked at him, I’m sure with a twinkle in my eye, as I said “Oh yes you are,” and right then, I just let go of the cup and watched it fall, bouncing off his lap and onto the floor next to him. He almost chocked on the coffee he was drinking “I can’t believe you just did that!” he exclaimed. “Go ahead, resist the urge to pick it up,” I challenged.  We sat there staring each other off while laughing hysterically. And yes, I was right. He couldn’t stand the garbage on the floor and had to get up and put it in the garbage. Another point for me!

So every day, we have out little games that we play with each other and I often find myself saying “How old are you?” But now having written this post, I see there are times I  am young and playful and sometimes I just never tire of the game if it irritates him. Yes, we are children. But it does provide for some entertainment and usually a lot of fun in an otherwise somewhat intense type of job. And I know when I ask that question, we are well into teasing mode, are playful and enjoying each others company. We all need to have fun at work. It makes the day go quicker and makes it easier to return the next day. And I mean, who doesn’t enjoy sticking your head out the car window and baying at the moon occasionally?

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