Arlington City Council:
Arlington Police Department, Winter 1984
You’ve heard the term that you “were seeing red.” Now I know where this came from.

Many of you might remember the golden years of Saturday Night Live with the original cast. One of the regular bits was Gilda Radner’s portrayal of Emily Litella. For instance, Emily Litella would give an editorial response on Weekend Update about parents objecting to violins on television. Finally, Chevy Chase would inform Emily that the story was actually about the "violence" on televisions, not violins. She would always end the gag with, “Never mind…”

To see an example of Gilda Radner as Emily Litella, go to: http://www.hulu.com/watch/2364

We had a person like Emily Litella who was an elected member of the Arlington City Council while I was Chief of Police. This “Emily Litella” would make a passionate motion about some issue or another until the Mayor, City Attorney, or another Council Member would point out the true facts regarding the issue, and she would then retreat with a comment similar to “Never mind…

One such rant came with regard to Off Street Parking, and Snow Removal. Our Emily Litella went on about when a large amount of snow fell on the city, our City Crews were unable to plow the streets due to all the cars parked on the street, and that the city should pass an ordinance prohibiting any vehicles parking on the street between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM anytime there was a snowfall of two or more inches. Any vehicles found on the street should be ticketed and towed by the police!

The Mayor asked the Public Works Manager if this was an issue, and asked if it was, why it had not been submitted through the Council Member responsible for Public Works. The Public Works Manager replied that this was the first time that he learned that this was an “issue” and that he had not proposed it at all. While he went on to say that it would be nice to not have to work snow removal around parked cars that it wasn’t really a problem, and it was just part of the job that they needed to work the plows around the parked cars.

One of the other Council Members pointed out that at least half of the residents in the city didn’t have off street parking at their homes, and asked where would these people be expected to park their cars? “Emily Litella” suggested they should park in the alleys behind their homes. To this, the Public Works Manager objected, stating that the alleys were too narrow, and adding parked cars there would make it impossible for the snow plows to get through the alleys.

The Mayor finally stated that there was no way the City was going to pass an ordinance to prohibit parking on the streets across the whole city at any time. He suggested that later in the year, an engineering study be made to indentify certain streets which might be designated as Emergency Snow Routes which may have rules or prohibitions on parking. The matter was tabled to another time and our Emiliy Litella said, “Never mind…”

About two or three weeks later, a major snowstorm blew over Arlington on a Sunday Night / Monday Morning, leaving about thirteen inches of very wet, heavy snow. My shift during the storm was mostly spent with motorist assists, pushing cars out of ditches along the highways so they could get home. This is hard work, and by the time I went off duty, I was drenched, cold, and exhausted! When I got home at 2:00 AM, I stripped off my wet clothes, dried my wet hair with a towel, and went to bed. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow!

This was back in the day when most homes had only one telephone, and typically it was installed in the kitchen. This was the case in our home when the ringing phone woke me up at 7:00 AM the following morning.

The first thing to cross my mind was there must have been a horrible car accident in the snow storm, and I bolted straight out of bed to run to the kitchen for the phone! You know how sometimes, if you get up too fast, you get dizzy? Well I blacked out as I rounded the corner into the living room, fell and dislocated my right shoulder. I was in immense pain! I crawled the rest of the way to the phone to answer it, only to find our “Emily Litella” on the other end of the line… “You’re not doing your job! Why weren’t you writing tickets and towing cars parked on the street so the snow plows can get through? Why aren’t you doing your job like you’re supposed to do?!

I replied, “Because we don’t have an ordinance or law that says I can or should write tickets for that!” I slammed the phone back down on the hook, before sliding back down to the floor, cradling my arm.

You’ve heard the term that you “were seeing red.” Now I know where this came from. Through my pain and angst, as I looked around the room, everything in my vision had a pink colored tinge to it. This was not a sensation I would want to experience again!

By this time my wife was there checking on me. The phone started ringing again, and she answered it. It was our Emily Litella demanding to know why I had the gall to hang up the phone on her! My wife explained that while I was running to answer the first phone call, I had fell and apparently injured myself badly… The Councilwoman apologized, and hung up the phone.

My wife helped me into a chair, and started preparing an ice pack when the phone started ringing again… She answered it, asked a few questions, said thank you, and hung up. She turned to me and said, “That was the City Clerk. They City has authorized that you should proceed to the hospital at Fremont where they will x-ray your shoulder, and treat the injury.”

The doctors at Freemont determined that I had indeed separated my shoulder, and that it had popped back into the socket. They put me in a sling, prescribed pain medications, and sent me back home. While I got better quickly, that same right shoulder has suffered more insults over the years, and is still a “pain” to this day.

I often wondered if the City ordered me to the hospital so quickly out of genuine concern, or if this particular City Councilwoman wanted to know if I had really been injured. In any event it had the same outcome in that I received treatment.

As far as I know, I may be the only Police Officer to have righteously entered a Workman’s Compensation Claim for an On the Job Injury received for falling down in his own living room!


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