Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The upside-down feeling in the pit of my stomach

Yesterday, JT took a sick day. Really, a mental health day, because when I woke up he was shaking in a cold sweat. He begged me not to make him go back. What do you say to someone when they say something like that? I tried to keep my composure and told him that I would support him no matter what. If this wasn't for him, better to find that out now.

He made some phone calls to the city jail he used to work in, and to the dispatch center, inquiring if he could get his old job back. They said he might be able to get the part-time dispatch position that just opened up there.

He asked me if I could find a full-time job, so that our baby would still have benefits. I said I'd try. I made some phone calls and did some web searches. No, there aren't any full-time librarian jobs in our area right now--there were some a few weeks ago but I knew they'd fill quickly. I also researched secretarial jobs.

Then for some reason I decided I desperately needed a waffle from IHOP. I was hungry, stressed, overwhelmed. I had a lot of homework to do. I invited JT to go with me but he refused, since he had called in sick and this wouldn't do. So I left him with the baby. I needed to eat, unwind, work on school and forget about anybody but myself for a while. I couldn't find an IHOP or anywhere that serves waffles but I had some pancakes.

JT sent an email to the sergeant at his police dept., explaining the real cause of his aversion to the rope. He told the sergeant about his crippling fear of heights, in hopes that he'd get farther by being honest than by continually covering it up.

In the evening JT talked to his parents, his friends, his former coworkers, and I talked to one of the other recruits' wives. They told us to stick with it and hang in there. They said that what he was going through wasn't that different from the other recruits and he bought it, he went to bed promising me (and his sergeant) that he would go back to academy in the morning.

Today, JT got up and still felt like quitting. I wasn't much help to him this morning. I had been up with JY all night (while I was eating pancakes yesterday she was having a very long nap and couldn't understand that 3 o'clock in the morning doesn't count as "morning"). I asked JT when I would ever get sleep again, and he said "When I quit."

"No," I said. "You really think my life is going to be any easier if you quit? Think again. If you want to do something for me, you will go to academy and you will stick this out."

I didn't know today would be his last day.

As he suspected, JT was given a lot of hell for calling in sick yesterday. But he willingly went to the Lions' Den to get the flags this morning. He says that my words made an impression on him and that he made a commitment to continue and stick it out. But somebody had other plans.

The tactical officers asked JT if he'd been in touch with his sergeant lately. He said he had told his sergeant about the fear of heights. Their mouths dropped. They had been contacted by this sergeant and they were starting to put 2 and 2 together.

As class was ending this afternoon, JT was asked to fall out and go back to the tactical office, at ease.

They said he was a great candidate and would make a good police officer. They said that they were impressed by the way they kept challenging him and he kept coming back. They made him class sergeant that first week and as hard as they tried, they never broke him. They applauded him on his progress at climbing the wall. And although he couldn't climb the rope, they reminded him that this is actually not a requirement for the POST certificate in our state and assured him he wouldn't have this difficulty in another academy.

They said that it wasn't personal on their part, and that they liked him. They wanted him to stay and graduate, but his sergeant had given instructions for him to clear out his locker and report to the police station at 1100 tomorrow. They said that they hoped he would still have a career in law enforcement and that they would have a lot of positive things to say about him, if prompted to give a reference.

So it was his sergeant--not him and not the academy--that finally pulled the plug.

Possibly he will still have a job, and will be sent to a different academy. Or maybe the sergeant has decided to let him go. We don't know. I'm scared right now. I feel like my whole life will be flipped upside-down now. I'm afraid that I'll have to work full time and go to school and take care of the baby all so that JT can walk away from one career and try a new one. Give up my career goals, my future, and go back to office work.

But in the short run, just for tonight, I can think of a few reasons for rejoicing:

I will not have to wash or iron a uniform tonight.
I will not have to wash PT gear.
I will not have to make sense of the messy, disorganized equipment JT needs for class, because he will not have class.
I will not have to pack a lunch.
I will not have to stay up late.
I will not have to get up before dawn.
I will sleep longer tonight than I've slept in a long time.

That is, if I can sleep.

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