Dimestore Dispatcher

At Hollywood & Highland we kept our dispatch log on a computer. I’d sit there in the surveillance room and talk to security officers on the radio while watching a large monitor in front of me that was fed by 82 cameras around the property.

I had a switching console, so that I could call up any camera feed I wanted too, and a “camera officer” sat nearby at a similar monitor and switching console.

As I kept the dispatch log, I’d make entries like this..

0700 – Ofc Bollomy reports code 4 north restrooms level 3.
0715 – McCarthy Construction commenced work on grand stairway, informed dispatch that portions of stairway to be inaccessible to public through remainder of the work day.

April 25th of 2002 was a slow day, so I decided to keep myself entertained by typing the security log up a little differently. I called it..

If a dimestore novelist worked part-time as a security dispatcher.

The shift started at 0600. At 0615, I’d gotten out of briefing and settled into the dispatch chair. Thus our story begins..

0615 – Twenty one uniformed security officers and their pint-sized sergeant sat in hushed silence as Craig Delanoy strode into the room. The blue of their uniforms matched the blue mood that swept over them as Delanoy spoke swiftly yet eloquently of terrorist threats and the need for officers to be alert.

Tossing out a final warning as nonchalantly as one tosses a quarter to a grateful panhandler, Delanoy left the room, his words lingering in the air like so much air freshener that had been in the can too long.

0630 – Officer Gregg reluctantly surrendered the dispatch console to Corporal Rhodes. A bit of idle chit-chat provided a thin veil for the deeply passionate feelings Graham harbored when it came to the throne of electronic endeavor and his longing to return to that throne once night should fall again.

Officer Mitch Dakin took his station at the surveillance monitor, a sense of urgency buzzing around him like a cloud of angry mosquitoes, needling him to do better, do BETTER, and not let Delanoy down. Not again. Not ever.

Craig Delanoy’s words of exhortation during the morning briefing had made a deep impact on Dakin, who strove to be just like Delanoy someday and was even now reminiscent of him in his youth, a daring young man full of promise and not lacking when it comes to matters of the heart and soul.

0632 – Who would think that an entire golf cart could turn up missing? Yet the half-hour mark found Officer Ernie Valdez standing forlornly in the cavernous depths of the parking structure, calling on his radio in a hollow voice as he described to Rhodes how empty the space looked where once stood a a shiny, beautiful golf cart.

Rhodes was no fool, and he could sense the layer of fear wedged into Valdez’s thick, Hispanic dialect. Fear that the cart would never be found, and that he would be relegated to some far-flung boundary of the complex for the remainder of his watch to idly pass the time by counting passers-by and tossing inane greetings at them as one tosses baseballs at lead bottles with the hope of winning a stuffed panda at the county fair.

Corporal Rhodes acted swiftly, dispatching his full compliment of roving security officers in search of the wayward cart. Time dripped by like molasses to the forlorn Valdez, who was elated when he heard the happy voice of Officer Chessley Schmidt pierce the darkness and call out that the cart had been found in the valet area of the parking structure.

To Valdez, Schmidt had become a hero in one fleeting moment. Never mind that Schmidt was a hero already, beloved by all who call upon his services to witness how quickly he brings each task to fruition with a relish. To Valdez, Schmidt was now his personal hero, and no one else’s.

0647 – Escalators are mere machines. Soulless contraptions that don’t care one little bit whether you go up or down. Escalator #25 is no exception, and it sits in a funk.. A non-moving, gloomy little escalator funk. Fortunately, Corporal Hernandez is the funk remover, and is on his way with the de-funking key.

0652 – While on his way to cheer up Escalator #25, Corporal Hernandez noticed that Elevator #8 appeared to be in a funk also. But upon closer inspection it was revealed that some miscreant had maliciously engaged the fire-switch on poor old Elevator #8, causing it to sit just where it is, pondering whether or not it would ever slide its smooth walls up and down that silky shaft once again. This would be a job for Ted from Fujitech, a man known not only for his ragged sense of humor and wonderful wit, but also for his fanciful head full of elevator whimsy.

0654 – Corporal Hernandez flashed fondly back on that day in fifth grade when he had handed the report in to Mrs. White and she smiled like a Cheshire cat, praising him for the hard work he’d obviously poured into such a fascinating piece. Who knew that the Louisiana purchase could ever be made to seem so alive, so vibrant? It was just a boring old piece of American historicity in most minds, but not after Danny Hernandez had tackled it with his pen.

Mrs. White was not one known to graciously dole out grades that matter, but she slapped a triumphant A-PLUS on Danny’s paper that day, sealing in him a desire to perform above and beyond the call of the daily grind. As he inserted his key into the little slot at the base of Escalator #25 and it roared to life, he grinned like a very special breed of Cheshire cat, certain within himself that he’d earned yet another in a life-long string of A’s with the accomplishment of this task.

At this point the watch commander walked into dispatch and looked over my shoulder.

“Rhodes, what are you doing?”

“I’m composing the dispatch log as if I were a dime-store novelist working here part-time.”

“You won’t be working here at all if you don’t knock it off.”

I printed a copy of what I had so far, then went back and rewrote the entries in the usual format.

Work. They just don’t let you have any fun.

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