Oddballs are the spice of life on a cop’s beat

Today The Son of God called.

He sounded okay; a little tired, maybe.

It sounds like I had a religious experience doesn’t it? (My wife wishes that I would have something — anything having to do with religious experience.)

The fact is The Son of God left me a voice mail. He was upset over something to do with some vandalism or something — I can’t remember since he’s always calling and complaining about — well, just things. The SOG calls regularly and, quite frankly, he’s a whiner.

Mrs. “L” called. Her name isn’t Mrs. “L.” It’s really Rebecca Stratovich* but we’ll call her Mrs. “L” so she can remain anonymous.

“Mrs. L” is upset with the CIA who, under the direction of the Reagan administration, planted numerous listening devices within the walls of her condo. As a result, she sleeps in her car. I’ve explained for years that not only is the Reagan administration gone from the White House, the former president has passed on to be with Bonzo in that great ranch in the sky.

She laughs — a kind of sarcastic, huffing laugh — and reaffirms to me her theory that Reagan is in the CIA protection program, along with Elvis and a couple of those little people from the Wizard of Oz.

Most police officers, especially the ones working morning watch (11 p.m. to 7 a.m.) will tell you that those who are different — call them nutzo or whack jobs or whatever — are the life of the party and, furthermore, make coming to work when most of the world sleeps, all the more enjoyable.

I love the folks. Don’t harsh my mellow over the fact that we call them whack jobs. Don’t start on me with how we need to do this and that. I know how we need to embrace everyone with problems. I know, I know.

Geeze! I’m only addressing the circumstances of our contact. We come into contact with a lot of people, some who are best described as complete bores. Those are the people who need our help! Talking to them is like undergoing colonoscopy. (For those of you who now have to Google “colonoscopy,” wait until you hit 40.)

But the odd folks are the spice of life, especially on the morning watch. There are some who are among us during the day, but it is the night shift of the odd folks who we call the first string.

I have many fond memories of them. I embraced them and I miss them. I don’t know where they went, though. They just walked away.

Elizabeth** was a very nice lady who hated me. She was homeless and, so at night, she would sit in the Big Star, reading romance novels. She’d sit in the Big Star until they kicked her out and then she’d move to the Dunkin’ Donuts or some other all-night place.

She always hung around my beat. Around 3 a.m. I would get a call and I would immediately know who the call was about. We would always go through the same ritual. I’d go in the store and assure the staff that she wasn’t dangerous and I would take her with me. She’d would cuss at me, hit me on the shoulder with her romance novel, and then get in the back of my car so we could find somewhere else for her to stay.

It didn’t hurt when she hit me, although she once hit me in the face. I’m sure it was just an off day. She was from South Africa, or maybe England. I’m not really sure, but I do know she was well educated.

I’d walk her to the car and she would hit me on the shoulder, and then get in. That was it. It was a free punch.

I miss her. Every time I see a romance novel, I wonder how Fabio keeps his hair so fabulous and I miss Elizabeth.

There were those odd folks who spent only a short time on my beat. Although I didn’t know her name, I used to see a woman who would walk up Roswell Road, along the sidewalk, pushing a lawnmower that had no engine. I don’t even know where she went. She’d push it up and then down.

She didn’t stay long. She was like a baseball pitcher with so-so talent. Up for a short time, then back to the minors.

There were the talkers, the preachers and the conspiracy theorists. There were plenty of people who suspected or downright knew that the government had secret experiments afoot in Sandy Springs.

One very nice lady called us weekly to check her kitchen because someone at the University of Georgia had secretly planted listening devices in her kitchen appliances. She could hear them, so she spoke only in code when we arrived on the call. It was something between Pig Latin and what drunk guys say just before they run from the cops. (See “Drunk People Who Run Into Pine Trees.”)

Later, during my detective years, I had a regular visitor who was convinced aliens had landed and were trying to blend into her condo community. She would show up frequently and would rehash the same story. After a while, I would get very tired of the same old conversation so I asked one of the other detectives to stand in the corner of the office with a tin-foil cone hat that I made and a pair of sunglasses.

“Just stand in the corner next to the door and don’t move or say a word.”

When “Mrs. J”*** came in, she looked at the detective in the corner and then asked me if I could see her. I acted as if I knew nothing. She slowly eased out and gave me the “I’ll call you” signal with her hand.

Several years later I confessed to her that I set it up. She told me not to patronize her and to accept the fact that aliens are among us. Turns out I believe her. Two of them are posing as my kids.

The fact is, if we were all the same we’d look like a giant IBM office. Blue shirts and cleaned-off desks come 5 p.m. Variety is the spice of life, or at least life on the street. I love the oddballs.

I find that the older I get, the more I like them and it’s at least a fair shot that I may just join them. In fact, they may be right. This morning my toaster told me that my fly was open. It’s good to have friends who look after you.

*Rebecca Stratovich is a made-up name. Having said that, I’m quite sure that somewhere there is a Rebecca Stratovich who will, somehow, come across this blog. Please forgive me, Rebecca, but it seemed funny at the time.

**Elizabeth wasn’t her real name. Oddly enough, it was also Rebecca Stratovich.

***I can’t remember her name. “Mrs. J.” sounded cool.

16 comments Add your comment


August 10th, 2009
9:15 pm

Loved today’s article.

Big John

August 11th, 2009
9:23 am

Enter your comments here


August 11th, 2009
12:01 pm

Sounds a lot like some of the women I’ve dated.


August 11th, 2009
12:52 pm

Sad thing is I think it sounds like at least one of the women I’ve dated too… Great article Steve!


August 11th, 2009
2:13 pm

I saw Rebecca just last week. Don’t let her show you her tattoo.


August 11th, 2009
2:17 pm

Question : Why can’t the police arrest my meth-induced psychotic neighbor when he curses at & threatens me ? In front of my 12 year old son, no less ?

Alien Probed

August 11th, 2009
2:40 pm

My alien theory has now been proven! That alien is still standing in the corner and his name is Nork from the planet Dork!…BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID! THE INVASION IS COMING!


August 11th, 2009
3:09 pm

HaHa..,,always enjoy reading your work, this is one of your better pieces. Funny sht!!


August 11th, 2009
3:26 pm

I grew up in a medium size college town, not so small any more. We had our share of oddballs. One of them stayed in a bank bathroom until after they closed. He robbed the cash registers overnight, apparently there was change left in the registers, then hid in the bathroom until they opened. Other than that he was a harmless fellow who walked around all the time with a paper sack. As kids we always thought it was full of money from the bank heist.
As I grew older I was talking to a wise old woman one day and she said “It tells a lot about a community, how they treat their oddballs, and we do a good job”.


August 12th, 2009
7:29 am

We all run into “special people” and unless they are violent and overly abusive, it is best to treat them with a smile and a kind word. We might be them one day.

Ben Dover

August 12th, 2009
7:45 am

I ran into a guy sitting outside the Post Office the other day who looked a lot like Charles Manson except that he didn’t have the Swastika between his eyes. He was a friendly enough sort, as they all are. He told me that he hoped to have a girlfriend by Christmas and if so he would have some real “presents.” I wished him the best of luck and hoped he had a very Merry Christmas.


August 18th, 2009
1:11 am

When I used to deliver pizza years ago I would deliver to a women off Wright Rd who would check the cokes to make sure that Lockheed didn’t bug them. She would also always ask “Did you bring them with you?” but I have no idea who “them” were. She would also draw a toothbrush and three dots in the memo line of her check.

Police Blogs « Positive LEO

August 21st, 2009
6:31 pm

[...] his blog as being about  “Criminal Einsteins and the cops who figure them out…” His recent post on the strange people he’s met during his time as a police officer was very [...]


August 22nd, 2009
7:47 am

Not everyone that looks crazy really is. For example…there’s a really nice boy about 11 years old in my apartment complex; I think he’s autistic. Anyway, he’s got this invisible dog, and apparently everyone in my building “knows the dog” and sometimes they pat him, or toss him an invisible dog treat when they pass by the little autistic boy.

I don’t know what the hell I did to make that kid mad, and I know the dog isn’t really there, but whenever I pass him I hear him mutter “Sic her, boy!” and I know nothing’s coming after me, but I “squeak” and run up the stairs anyway.

The point is, Hello my name is Hannah, and I run away from an invisible attack dog everyday at 5:15.


August 22nd, 2009
2:21 pm

“Question : Why can’t the police arrest my meth-induced psychotic neighbor when he curses at & threatens me ? In front of my 12 year old son, no less ?”

Because some misdemeanors basically require the officer to witness the incident to arrest on the spot for it. That is especially true with hearsay evidence only. You probably would not like being arrested if you neighbor made a false accusation against you with no other evidence.

If you filed a report then follow your local procedure for taking out a warrant from a judge.


September 11th, 2009
2:50 pm

I used to live across from a crazy little old lady. She called the police about everything. If a kid cut the corner on his bike through her yard she’d call the cops! The power lines were buzzing so she thought “those kids” were messing with it and called the cops. She finally talked us into calling about something. The cop that showed up was so nice. He explained they knew her well and heard from her almost daily. He had sort of taken her as his own. I think she just wanted attention so he’d spend a few minutes listening to her yell, reassure her, and move on. After reading this I’m hoping she was one of his oddball bright spots. He deserved a medal for being so nice and respectful to that lady over and over.