The Things We Carry.
Detailing the process of getting ready in that last entry brought to mind how, as I get ready for work some days, I recall the title short story of Tim O’Bryan’s anthology The Things They Carried (1990), which I read my senior year in high school. So here’s my shorter take on the same thing, with apologies to Mr. O’Bryan. (I’ve not read his stuff in 15 years.)
I first began detailing this list as I was losing a chase after a 19 year old liquor store robber across a 5 mile wide cow pasture. He was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, jeans, socks, and running shoes. He was a little underweight, and was running, damnably, as 19 year-olds do when sedentary guys in their 30's with too much gear attempt to pursue them-- he conserved his energy and just trotted. Heh. That was his undoing-- I arranged a 5-agency manhunt for his skinny butt, and caught him myself 4 hours later. Shoulda just sprinted away when he had the chance.
The things we carry.
We put on uniforms. Long pants with extra pockets for flashlights and ticket books and possibly backup guns. Shirts with extra reinforced vents at the sleeves and patches, with name plates and badges and collar brass and sometimes even service pins. Hats. Heavy leather boots polished black and shiny, sometimes with steel toes.
We put on belts. A wide inner belt, to hold up the pants. Over that and the belt loops, a thicker, heavier Sam Browne belt of smooth black leather, with a large vanadium buckle. On that belt is a body microphone, to project our voice to the in-car camera system. Keepers, to hold the Sam Browne to our inner belt. Rings, to clip our keys to. Keys: office, car, camera system, handcuff, and a dozen others. We carry an enormous Safariland duty holster made largely of black plastic, which houses a Glock 31 .357 Sig pistol with 15 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, and a Streamlight M3 light on the accessory rail. (The whole pistol with the load and light weighs 2 lbs, 5 oz.) We carry ASPs, expandable telescopic steel batons that change from a 9" padded cylinder to a 26" intermediate impact weapon with the flick of the wrist. We carry handcuff cases with Smith & Wesson, Hyatt, Peerless, or ASP handcuffs. We carry pouches wih rubber gloves inside. We carry an extra handcuff case with cuffs. We carry Stinger aluminum rechargable flashlights. We carry Motorola 2-way scanning portable radios with remote shoulder microphone-speakers. We carry double pouches with spare 15-round magazines full of Gold Dot ammunition. We carry issue cell phones and sometimes personal cell phones. We carry TASERs. We carry large alphanumeric pagers. We carry this all on our belts.
We wear our underwear. Black socks that almost never can be seen above the tops of the uniform boots. When it's chilly we wear polypropylene long underwear. We wear the shorts of our choice, as they and our socks are the only items of clothing that we buy ourselves. We wear issue UnderArmor, to keep us from overheating inside of our ballistic vests. When it's cold, we wear black turtlenecks. We wear Point Blank or Second Chance or any of a dozen other brands of bullet-resistant vests, which cover our backs and bellies and sides and chests and shoulders, and which are rated NIJ Level 2 or better, and are claimed to stop most .357 Magnum rounds. We wear trauma plates with our vests. We wear backup guns.
We carry things in our shirt pockets. We carry ink pens, and backup ink pens, and sometimes backups to the backup ink pens. We carry long handcuff keys, and spare car keys, and flash drives, and business cards, and pocket notebooks. We carry Miranda warning cards.
We carry things in our pants pockets. We carry wallets, and ID cases, and pocket badges, and licenses, and pictures of our families. We carry pocket knives, and spare pocket knives, and coins, and folding money. We carry shotgun shells, and gum or mints, and personal keys, and sometimes small pocket lights, and other backup keys. Sometimes we carry bananas.
Sometimes we also carry things that we should not. Extra weight around the middle, or cigarettes, or paperwork that we've been meaning to finish, turn in, or shred. Sometimes we carry problems-- stress, prejudices, or fear.
We always carry pride.
We carry jewelry. We all wear wrist watches. Most of us wear rings on our fingers. Some wear necklaces. Some wear tattoos. Some wear scars.
We carry personal assistance devices. Many of us wear glasses. Reading glasses. Contact lenses. Sunglasses. Orthopedic insoles. Some wear hearing aides. Some wear knee, ankle, or back braces.
All these things we carry, and more.