Kerrian

KN, p. 195 “The Blue Flu”

 

I feel lousy. If I didn’t have to get out of bed to eat, I wouldn’t move. The body aches remind me of what it felt like to be back doing the physical part of basic training at the Police Academy. Everything hurts. Everywhere. Between the coughing, the sneezing, and the sweating, my days are filled with junk. And not the good kind.

 

I am buried under a pile of tissues.

 

Sheila has disappeared again. She brings me chicken soup, drops off a new box of tissues and leaves. She’s sleeping in the guest room and has Hammett with her, so it’s pretty quiet in here. I miss them both. Yeah, I know they’re just in the next room, but it’s not the same.

 

Hammett growled when he heard me honking the first day, so I’m pretty sure he’s away for the duration. I don’t want Sheila to catch this, so she should stay away. Still. A hug and a woof would be good. I admit it. I’m a wimp.

 

At least I’m well enough to read a little and work on the Notebook. Seriously, it’s been four days since I got dizzy and almost fell off a ladder outside. Who knew that 102 fever would knock out a big guy like me? If I was on active duty, I wouldn’t have the strength to hold a gun steady, and it wouldn’t be safe to put me out on the streets. Can you imagine sneezing in the middle of taking a shot? EVERYONE would run for cover. I might shoot myself in the foot if I ever actually had the strength to pull the trigger. I definitely wouldn’t be fit for roll call until the coughing and sneezing stopped.

 

It got me to thinking about the Blue Flu – the pretend flu we hear about every once in a while. The kind of flu that gets rumored about when a contract negotiation hits a snag over in NYC or in one of the other larger communities in the country.

 

Here’s a little history.

 

It all started in Boston, back in 1919. A full 80 percent of Boston police went off the job, leaving the city unprotected for several days. Unions were on the rise and the cops decided that there was no other way to get the boss’ attention. They wanted better working conditions and more pay. But, Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge disagreed with the concept of unions in general and the right in particular of police officers to strike. He called out the militia, and famously declared, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime.” Coolidge used this get-tough policy to leverage a spot as Vice-President on the ticket to the White House in the following election.

 

Instead of viewing the police as helpers of the community, for a while at least, Boston cops and unions in general were in disfavor. It became illegal for law enforcement officers anywhere to strike.

 

It wasn’t until fifty years later that big city police officers were back in the news for a job action. In the early 1970s, the NYC Police Department was under scrutiny for corruption, and at first, the 19th precinct was targeted more than the others by the Knapp Commission. The Police Commissioner at the time, Patrick Murphy, sought to clean house before the investigations went any further and started transferring officers as well as demoting some. But the PBA (the Police Benevolent Association) was upset at the way they thought Knapp was attacking the entire force with what the PBA called “unfounded accusations.” More than 60 of the 90 day-shift officers in that precinct sat down on the job for four hours and would not go out on patrol.  First strike ever in the history of the NYC police department. My boss told me that both good and bad fallout rippled across the country.

 

Then, just a few months later, while parts of the NYC Police Department were still under investigation, salaries were up for review. Officers faced a tough reception on the streets and any shift could be deadly. While never an easy job, the level of violence toward cops had gone up a notch and cops wanted to be compensated for that danger. 20,000 officers of the NYC police department called in sick for six days in a row. The mayor at the time, John Lindsay, threatened to fire the entire police force if they didn’t get back to work. Public outcry was fierce, with many in support of the theory of pay raises, but taxes were already high and new money would burst the budget. The union leadership got the patrolmen back on the job, but it took years for goodwill between the public and cops and the mayor to be restored.

 

Cops, firefighters, and hospital workers are sometimes faced with horrendous working conditions in metropolitan settings and while they know what they signed up for, buying the groceries and paying the rent gets in the way of that warm and fuzzy feeling towards management. Full-on Blue Flu sickouts are discouraged when tensions run high, so some unions prefer the work slowdown method. The idea behind it is that the resulting traffic stops and mountains of paperwork will convince the other side to come up with solutions to the issues at hand. It isn’t always about the $$$.

 

Blue Flu has been a last resort job action. Many would say that it should never be used at all.

 

If you’d like to read more about the history behind the “Blue Flu,” click on the links below.  🙂

 

http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/blue-flu-cops-strike-december-1970-january-1971-chapter-384-article-1.911985

 

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/01/06/a-short-history-of-police-protest#.qaqzR8evc

 

Check out a more recent use of Blue Flu as a job action, in September, 2016: http://www.fox10tv.com/story/33261705/blue-flu-hits-prichard-police-department

 

 

 

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KN, p. 172 “On the Road: Don’t lose your ID!”

 

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Almost anyone that travels via commercial airlines has a story to tell about lost luggage, flight delays, or the latest TSA rules. It was such a hot topic among my buddies right before one of my trips that I did a little research and posted, “What does the TSA really do?” Read it here.

 

Just recently, Sheila and I got to experience first hand the TSA techniques for handling undocumented travelers. Yup. Undocumented. Sheila misplaced her official photo ID (her driver’s license) and had to not only prove who she was, but go through a very thorough search to boot.

 

Here’s how it played out:

 

We took the hotel shuttle van to the local airport, ready to fly out on a commuter leg that would get us to a major hub. Something told me to take an early shuttle van, so we arrived three hours before the flight. We had checked into our flight while still at the hotel and already had our boarding passes, so we rolled our suitcases up to the baggage check-in area, expecting a quick handover of the lightly packed bags.

 

Sheila took out her wallet, but couldn’t find her driver’s license, so she waved me ahead. The airline agent checked mine and took my bag. I stepped away and looked over at my wife. She was frowning. The agent wasn’t busy yet, so he stood there, watching. Sheila took every single piece of paper and credit card out of her wallet, but could not find the license. She had grocery cards, office supply cards, medical ID cards, but no license. Gulp.

 

“Is it possible you put it somewhere else for some reason?” he asked, so very kindly.

 

She took apart her briefcase and her tote bag, piece by paper by book. She turned everything upside down and shook it.

 

“The last time I remember seeing it was when we checked into the hotel.” She sounded a touch panicky.

 

The agent walked away to take care of other people and we called the hotel. We were put on hold for fifteen minutes while the hotel manager looked in the safe. No ID.

 

Sheila took everything apart again. I called the agent over and asked what would happen if she couldn’t find her ID. Would Sheila be able to board the plane in this post 9/11 world?

 

“Does she have a passport with her?” (We weren’t that far from the Canadian border, so that was a reasonable question.)

“We weren’t planning on leaving the country, so, no.”

 

He called a TSA supervisor, who explained that they would have to establish Sheila’s identity through the Homeland Security Office and after that, conduct an extensive search, a process that could take up to six hours. We would probably miss the flight – the last one of the day.

 

Anyone that flies in the United States knows that photo ID is required in order to buy an airline ticket and to board the plane. It is usually a driver’s license, but can also be a passport or an official non-driver’s license photo ID. Mom, who no longer drove and whose license had expired years before, had to get one of those in order to fly.

 

Photo ID is also required when checking into a reputable hotel – not the fly-by-night or rent-by-the-hour type.

 

Sheila and I had just finished a great weekend at a Police Academy training site – yes, she had fun, too. She shot an AR-15 for the first time and even had a tight grouping on the target.

 

As the flight time loomed closer, Sheila decided to give up digging for her license and undergo the search and questioning. The officers made a call to the regional Homeland Security office and agreed to accept her business card photo (the card also had her name, website, and email address) that she did have in her wallet. Since several people with their legitimate driver’s licenses had vouched for her, as long as she could pass the questioning phase and go along with the search, she might be able to board. I think it helped that there were cops in the group who vouched for her.

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Sheila’s suitcases had been placed on the side, away from everyone else’s. An officer opened them up, pulled everything out, and began the questioning.

 

“Why are you here?”

“What was the conference about?”

“What was the best class?”

“What do you do for a living?”

“What hotel did you stay in?”

“How long were you there?”

“Who ran the conference?”

 

The questions went on for twenty minutes. The personal search was conducted in front of the public, but the officer was polite/efficient and Sheila was focused on getting on that flight.

 

We did make the flight – barely. But, still puzzled as to what had happened to the license that she always puts in the same place.

 

It was midnight when we got home, but Sheila pulled everything out again. The last thing she looked at was the only item that she had not bothered with at the airport. The badge from the conference. It has a slot behind the name tag that attendees use to store business cards and hotel key cards. Very convenient. Sheila had helped sell raffle tickets at the banquet, thought that a purse would be in the way, so stuck her license and room card in that slot.

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At least nobody stole her ID, a nightmare both of us had considered.

 

Lesson to be learned:

 

Stick to your normal routines for keys and licenses when traveling. We have those routines for a reason – so that we don’t forget where we put them. Ooops!

 

We had visions of staying quite a while in the airport. We were lucky that we happened to be traveling at the same time as so many other people who had attended the same conference. We were lucky that Sheila had a business card with her photo on it. We were lucky that reason had prevailed.

 

*Photos by Patti Phillips

 

KN, p. 160 “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays for All”

 

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2015 has been a year of challenges for most of the world, with violence at home and abroad in the news every day. If it’s not about international military and/or political power struggles, the media is probably telling us about government conflict or sadly, the latest shooting perpetrated by a disturbed individual. I can’t remember the last time when so many people were so angry about so many aspects of the world in which we live.

 

And yet, if you ask how they are, how the family is, nothing much has changed. Friends and family members may get sick, lose a loved one, have trouble at work or experience a bump in the financial road, but most would say they are happy overall – that they live a life that’s good.

 

We may not be able to control what happens outside our circle, but we can control our reaction to it. And we can certainly control our reaction to the events inside our personal world.

During this Christmas, and whatever your holiday season, let’s all promise to:

  • Be kinder to each other, including Uncle Tim who tells the same stories every holiday. You’ll miss those stories when he’s gone.
  • Be gentler in our responses to each other, even when Auntie May spills her coffee again. You’ll need help someday, too.
  • Be less critical of each other. Your way may not be the only way to get the job done.
  • Hug a friend. Hugs are full of comfort.
  • Smile. Often. You’ll feel better.
  • Call a relative or friend that doesn’t get out anymore. Five minutes. That’s all it takes to change a person’s day.
  • Give the gift of time. Stop texting and talk to your friends and family face-to-face. Memories are made when people laugh and giggle together.
  • Give the gift of forgiveness. Soften your heart and forget the small stuff before it gets to be the big stuff.
  • Write a letter and snail mail it to the older people in your life. Not everybody has email.
  • Make every day count. Volunteer, serve, donate. Make someone’s life easier.
  • Give the gift of love. It means the world.

 

Above all, have a wonderful Christmas/holiday season and a slam dunk great 2016!

 

The Kerrians will be back in January with Charlie’s New Year’s Resolutions. 🙂

 

*Photo by Patti Phillips – Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal, Canada

 

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