When a police officer responds to a 911 call, often the first he knows of it - and all he knows of it, is the 'call text' that appears on his laptop. It tells him where to go and the reason for the call.
On Thursday evening, our first call popped up on screen:
"Can't take it any more. . . wife keeps yelling at me. . . no wpns, no intox. . . "
So. Sober and unarmed, a man called the police because his wife was yelling at him.
But off we go. Because, you know, he called 911 and things aren't always as they seem.
Turns out they've been married 30 years, which I wasn't expecting. Low income people, living in close quarters in a studio apartment on the east side of town. The officer separates them and we talk to the caller outside on the landing. Within seconds it's clear that what they need is a marriage counselor, but the cop is polite, respectful, and takes the time to talk about the man's problems, reminding him there's two sides to every story and maybe calling 911 when voices get raised isn't a permanent solution.
The other side becomes clear when we talk to the wife. She tells us that despite having been married that long, he won't let her have a key to the apartment. She tells us, too, that earlier that day she was at the unemployment office for an hour longer than he'd expected, which made him mad. He never hit her, ever, she says, but it's clear that he basically controls and monitors her every move.
All's well when we leave thirty minutes later, but nonetheless we leave shaking heads. We don't even talk about it, really, I mean what can you say?
Maybe you just look at the bright side: no one was drunk and there were no weapons involved. And thirty years married is pretty impressive these days, don't you think?