Gallows Humor (Cop Humor)

Sleep Hollow

I’ve previously mentioned the dark, gallow’s humor that infects cops and first responders. It’s a critical self-defense mechanism for us to do our jobs, complete an ugly or horrific task at hand, and move on to the next call. We can laugh or cry, and we almost never have time or the ability to cry on-scene. That usually comes later, in the secluded isolation of our squad cars or over a large glass of whiskey. As long as our boots are on the deck, we have to stay in control of ourselves, our environment, and those around us. No one’s gonna take orders from a sobbing ball of tear-driven snot.

So, without further ado, I thought I’d spend a few blogs sharing some cringeworthy things I and my partners have laughed about over the years.

Patrol gets a call of a motorcycle ripping down the freeway at triple-digit speeds, weaving through traffic, riding the shoulders and break-down lane, and generally making a reckless nuisance of himself. The squads that’re already a few miles ahead of the guy’s last known location roll to the interstate, because the rest of us have no chance of catching up. If you’ve never gone that fast, here’s the math: you cover a mile in 36 seconds at 100 mph, and in only 24 seconds at 150. So, the cops already eight miles ahead of him had only about 4 minutes to get to the interstate and get in position. Bad news for the rider is that he never made it that far. He took a sweeping left turn too fast on the right shoulder, which disappeared about halfway through the corner and he abruptly went from about a bill to zero when he collided with a utility box.

Instantly killed, no doubt in my mind. Mostly because not all of him hit the box; what did strike it pretty well splattered on everything in the immediate vicinity and for a helluvuh distance down-range. His head, though, just missed the box and bounced down the freeway a ways post-decapitation. So, I’m looking at the head, still inside the helmet, and it’s wearing this goofy, shit-eating grin with its eyes half-open, like a drunk who’s laughing at his own joke. The conversation went something like this:

Cop-1: “Thank God he wore the helmet. Gives us something un-sticky to pick him up by.”
Partner (looking at helmeted severed head): “Look at the mess you made, this shit ain’t funny. What’re you laughing at? You got jokes, Ichabod Crane?”
C1: “Ichabod had his head, you’re thinking of the horseman. Give this guy a break, he doesn’t have his head screwed on right.”
P: “No kiddin,’ ridin’ like that, he’s gotta be outta his damned mind.”
C1: “Doesn’t everybody know that speed kills?”
P: “It’s not the speed, it’s the sudden stop against thick steel sunk in reinforced concrete.”
C1: “Yeah, true, it’s the splat that gets you.”
P: “Right, Speed Racer?”
C1: “I wonder if he was still conscious the first time his head skipped down the freeway like a flat-ass rock.”
P: “If he was, I bet he regretted every decision in the last 24 hours.”
C1: “Probably wished he woulda kept his wits about him.”

And, that general back-and-forth goes on, with us trying to one-up each other on the morbid humor until some outside force intervenes. Usually a supervisor or a radio call for service.

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