A Matter of Perspective

Most officers talk to thousands of people – witnesses, victims,…

Most officers talk to thousands of people – witnesses, victims, suspects and others – every year during the daily grind of the job. The things people say become pretty predictable. For example, you ask a DUI (driving under the influence) driver how much he’s had to drink and he’ll tell you “two beers” every time. You ask a drug dealer why he sells his crack and he’ll tell you, “If I don’t, someone else will.”

However, even every once in a while we get thrown a curveball. A while back, I was sitting in a victim’s house interviewing a young mother. I started with the usual questions: names, date of birth, phone number, etc. When I asked her about her occupation, she said she worked for the state. A little surprised, I asked what agency and she curtly replied, “Welfare.” I asked for her office address and the woman raised her eyebrows and said, “Right here.”
Confused, I asked again and I got that slit-eye angry look as the woman spat out, “I raise my kids right here!” I finally got it and had to suppress a smirk. In her eyes, she gets money from the state to raise her kids. In a sense, she truly is a state employee, it’s just a matter of perspective.

It’s like another case I worked where a woman stabbed her boyfriend with a steak knife. I rolled to the hospital and talked to the victim, but he didn’t want to name his assailant. A pregnant woman showed up on his behalf and I asked what happened. The woman said she wasn’t present, but she’d heard that the victim’s “girlfriend” got angry when he was leaving to visit his soon-to-be “baby’s mama.”

Confused, I asked who that was and the pregnant woman said, “Me.” Still perplexed I asked, “If you’re going to have his child, doesn’t that make you his girlfriend?” The pregnant woman talked to me slowly like I was a moron and said, “No, I’m his baby’s mama.” I asked if they were getting married and now she really became exasperated as she explained, “No, the man already has a girlfriend!” Clearly we weren’t speaking the same language so I let it drop. I had no idea the generation gap was this big.

I went back to the victim and tried to ask more questions, but he wasn’t talking. They’d finished the stitches now and he wanted desperately to leave. I guess in his world, getting stabbed by a jealous girlfriend was just a lover’s scrap. Having a child by a woman who wasn’t even his girlfriend was okay, too. I didn’t even bring up marriage; it wasn’t in his vocabulary.

In truth, this is just a reflection of the generation gap, but frankly I’m not happy about my tax dollars raising his kids. Then again, I’m sure my ideas about marriage and supporting your own kids would probably piss him off to no end. We’re worlds apart, but there’s no law against it.

After all, this is America and if I ever catch up, this may all seem normal. It sure seems like another world than the one I knew.

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