December 25, 2006
The following story was written by Helen MacLeod, from Sydney, Nova Scotia. Helen was recently enrolled in literacy classes at the Adult Learning Association of Cape Breton County, formerly the Cape Breton Literacy Network. She is now taking training at the Nova Scotia Community College.
I am a female police officer on duty on Christmas Eve. It is one of the hardest shifts that I have to put in. There are a few good things that happen like finding a lost child and giving it back to its mother or helping a little old lady with her bags of food.
All of our calls are not always good. It is dangerous going out on family domestic dispute calls. A man gets drunk and beats his wife and child. I was one of the officers called to a domestic dispute in the early part of Christmas Eve. When I got there I saw a lady with blood on her face. She was holding a baby in her arms. The baby was crying, there was blood on his head and face. They were taken to the hospital where they were treated and sent home. It broke my heart to see her and the baby go back to him. But things happen that you cannot control.
The next call was even worse. There was a bad fire and there were two kids inside. You could hear the kids crying for help. The house was engulfed, no one could get to them. It made me sick to know that I could not do anything to help. It will stay with me for a long time.
As if the night was not bad enough, I got called to a bad car crash. A mother and her three children were badly hurt. One of the children was trapped inside of the car in a car seat, one was thrown out of the car and broke both of his legs. The mother died at the scene. Only one of the children got away without any cuts or bruises. I had the job to go and tell her husband that she had died and that two of his children were badly hurt. He was lucky that one of the kids was not hurt. This is the longest shift I ever have had to put in. There is only one hour left. Please let it be a quiet one. All of the things that I have seen tonight I see all year long. It's harder on Christmas Eve.
My shift is now over and I have to go home and pretend to my own kids that things are alright so I don't ruin their Christmas. I hope I am not working next Christmas Eve.
[This story was taken with permission, from Over the Mountain 7, p. 81, a collection of stories written by learners from different communities across Nova Scotia.]