After my niece’s wedding in the wilds of Minnesota, I was chauffeuring my parents and eleven-year-old niece to the Twin Cities Airport (Minneapolis/St. Paul, for the non-Minnesotans). We’d just reached the northern edge of the Cities when a pickup truck rear-ended a minivan right in front of us. After jumping out to check the damage, the pickup-truck driver (we’ll call him “Earl,” just so I don’t have to keep calling him “the pickup-truck driver”) got back into his vehicle. Since I assumed that Earl was planning to simply move his truck in front of the minivan so it was out of traffic, I slowed down and let him into the lane in front of me.
However, Earl didn’t stop. Instead, he stomped on the gas and ran.
“Call 9-1-1,” I told my parents, speeding up as I focused on the pickup weaving in and out of the cars in front of us. “Let’s go get Earl.”
“Uh, Katie,” my dad said. “You can’t chase him.”
“Why not?” I switched lanes, rather impressed by the quick acceleration of the Camry.
“Because there are parents and a child in the car?”
“Oh. Right.” A little disappointed, I eased off of the gas pedal, kicking myself for not getting the license plate number when the pickup was directly in front of us. “Let’s at least call it in and give Earl’s direction and vehicle description to Dispatch.”
My dad made the call, and we also let the dispatcher know when Earl turned off the highway onto a side street. Although I was tempted to turn on the same side street, a throat-clearing from the back seat reminded me that the others in the car would rather not follow Earl. With a disappointed sigh and a final glance at Earl’s rapidly retreating taillights, I continued to the airport.
About four years ago, I received my certificate in law enforcement while I worked as a Community Service Officer for the local PD. I was planning to apply for a police officer position, but an engineering company lured me back to Colorado, instead. It surprised me that, even four years later, I still have the impulse to run toward the fight, rather than away from the fight.
Even though I didn’t stay in police work, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in cop school and as a CSO. My favorite aspect was collecting and processing evidence as part of the Crime Scene Team. What I learned is a huge help when writing the crime-related parts of my books, too (to the point that my editor had to ask me to tone down a certain forensic detail in Hold Your Breath. “Why?” I asked. “It’s cool.” “No,” she responded. “Not cool. Gross.” [I’m paraphrasing here, as my editor put it in a much kinder and more erudite way]).
I believe my law-enforcement experiences warped my sense of humor a bit, though. At a recent “Write Funny to Me” workshop at the University of Iowa, there was class-wide agreement that I write more scary than funny.
C’mon. What’s not funny about a dead body?
Okay, I might see their point.