General03 Jan 2008 12:41 am

The last few weeks I’ve had to do a few early morning shifts. 6am early, to update the newspaper’s website. It’s a quiet time, as it’s just me and the police scanner.

I always get a thrill out of that thing. Everyone, especially the cop reporters, have long grown weary of it, and only listen for big things, shootings, big accidents, fires. But I can’t help myself and I find my ears tuning into whatever is being said on the scanner.

Lots of paramedic calls. People can’t breathe, heart attacks, people who have to return the hospital. Homeless fellows found in bus shelters. Domestic disputes. Car accidents, too. Fires, or just pulled fire alarms. I listen hard to these, always expecting to hear about someone I know or hearing a familiar address. I never do.

It’s kind of voyeuristic and disgusting, I know. But it’s so fascinating. Even the cop banter about weird stuff they say when they assume no one is listening, maybe not even the dispatcher, is incredible to me. I often jot things down to spill to Michael when I get home, just itching to tell someone, because I know I’d only get withering glares if I were to mention it at work.

Once, when some officers made some disparaging joke that was particularly rude, I stared wide eyed at the entertainment writer who was lucky enough to get a weekend at the cop desk. She was carrying the radio and when I stared at her unbelieving of what I was hearing, she said “What?! Do I have something on my face??” I laughed and said “No, but did you hear what they were just saying?” she said “Oh, no. I tuned that crap out long ago.”

I hope I don’t ever get like that. The voices on the scanners at 6am on a Sunday is somewhat comforting as I sit alone in the huge empty newsroom, sipping my tea.

One Response to “Lone Listener”

  1. on 06 Jan 2008 at 9:09 am Babs

    When I was a kid, my parents had a police scanner. I remember listening to that thing with my friends for hours one summer. When we would hear something going on in the “village” where we lived, we would jump on our bikes and go investigate! Nothing really happened much. Now, I’m more like that lady you work with. I listen to Minnesota Public Radio…but I more just zone out to the noise like a fan while sleeping.