I never heard those words come across the radio on Saturday night. Since I wasn't in my regularly assigned patrol car, but in a pool car I borrow from the garage, there were a few tools missing that I needed to do my job.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciated having a set of wheels, but I had no radio, no in-car-video camera, no radar and no flash light. There wasn't a whole lot of work that was going to get done that night. At least that is what I kept telling myself. Without a way to hook up my lap top computer, I also hadn't read about the Silver Alert that Midwest City Police Department issued earlier in the day.
Silver Alerts are issued for elderly people with either Alzheimer's disease or dementia who go missing. In the MWC case, it was an 85-year old man who had driven away from his home and had disappeared. The family was frantic. Hours went by without a word. Tears were shed, and prayers were sent heavenward repeatedly.
It had been a long, frustrating day for me. Without the necessary equipment to do my job properly, I was irritable, cranky and somewhat depressed. No one had to tell me that every trooper occasionally has their patrol car in the shop and has to drive a pool unit. I've been working for this same outfit going on 16 years. I'd done this before, but tonight it just hit me wrong. For whatever reason, I was in a foul mood.
As I sat at the bottom of the off ramp of Interstate 35, I contemplated how I was going to spend the last hour or so of I my shift. Should I slink around on a dark country road and hope to stumble across a drunk driver trying to slide home? Should I stick to the interstate? Should I cruise through town? All these decisions were pinging around in my brain when a car starts to cut across my path going west and then suddenly stops in the roadway in front of me. What's this?
Quickly, I look to see if I have forgotten and left my red and blue emergency lights on. Sometimes I forget to turn them off and will be driving around when people start pulling over. I'll wonder what they are doing before I realize that I have left my overhead lights on. Ooops! Sorry! That usually only happens in the day time though and this was closer to one in the morning. My light switches indicated that no lights were activated, so I glanced back at the car in the roadway. As if the driver could hear me telling him to move, he pulled to the shoulder, then around the corner into a convenience store parking lot.
Through the back window of his car, I could see his silver hair and watched as he looked over his shoulder to see if I had followed him. So I pulled along side of his car and rolled the window down. He appeared lost and confused. Without rolling his own window down, he got out of his car and leaned on my window sill. He had a simple request. Would I help him find his way home?
After calling my communications center on my cell phone (thank God for cell phones!) I learned that the gentleman sitting in my patrol car had been missing for several hours and a Silver Alert had been issued for him. After several minutes, a young police officer from MWC arrived with the elderly gentleman's grown son. The son gripped my hand tightly, thanking me for finding his father. I had a lump in my throat as I watched the two men embrace. That's when I told the younger of the two, I didn't find your dad, he found me. He basically pulled me over!
We all laughed at that, but as I watched them drive away, I was convicted of all my many grumblings of the day. God had to remind me, through this situation, why I was allowed to work in law enforcement in the first place. I am suppose to help people. Turns out, it was one of the best days I have ever had on the highway patrol.