I just got back from the 20th century…

Our internet service crashed Sunday morning and we were disconnected until mid-afternoon today due to a server problem in our area (and fortunately nothing expensive that we have to fix with our home set-up). It’s not like being chased out of your home by a hurricane or, say, having to pee in a bucket like some of the visitors to my city apparently chose to do over the weekend, but it was kind of surprising at how much the internet has entwined itself in our lives.

At any given time on a weekend we’re likely to have two laptops going and sometimes three, all connected to the ‘Net. It’s a handy way to look up a phone number, get directions to some place, reserve a tee-time or knock off a quick game of Web Sudoku while waiting for the charcoal to heat up. At least I didn’t miss it so much on Sunday … until I tried to find the results of the Twins’ game! I had to revert to the near-medieval practice of watching the ESPN crawler at the bottom of the high-def TV screen. Gadzooks! I also had an on-line coupon ($35 off!) that I couldn’t get to in my e-mail inbox that needed to be printed out and used by today; I went over to my brother-in-law’s and used his computer to do the deed.

Today it became a little more stressful. My wife is a police chaplain and is helping out at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. With the RNC changing plans on the fly to cope with Hurricane Gustav, she was concerned that she was missing any emails up-dating or re-assigning her to a different location. Nothing a couple of phone calls couldn’t resolve, and she was able to show up for an interesting afternoon of supporting our local officers. Her group did such a good job today that they were asked to expand their role in order to support another group of officers as well.

She’ll likely have a report and perhaps some photos of her experiences after the event is over; for security reasons it’s probably best that she not talk too much about where she’s at and where the police units are deployed. It has been an interesting couple of weeks of training and orientation for the chaplains. A special “secret location” in downtown St.Paul was set aside for them and I got to see it for myself when we drove down there Saturday morning to deliver some furniture we and our church were providing to the command post. It was an amazing experience driving through downtown as at every intersection we watched a police cruiser go by. This morning we went to Jerubek’s Bakery for breakfast, not far from downtown, and drank coffee and ate our pastry out on the patio, despite the constant thwopping of helicopters overhead. It’s going to be an interesting week, but morale appears to be high. I plan to stay as far away from the convention as possible!

2 thoughts on “I just got back from the 20th century…

  1. Ever see the Monty Python sketch, “The Church Police”?

    Nah, it’s nothing like that. Most police departments have a team of chaplains – usually clergy from the community – on call to accompany the officers when there’s bad news or death notifications. On one level they are there to serve the community in times of stress, but they are also there to serve the police officers who live a very tough and insular life.

    My wife, for one, tries to spend time with the officers, getting to know them and establishing some trust and familiarity. It takes years. She’s taken several training courses on things like domestic abuse, post-traumatic stress, disaster recovery, etc. She’s also gone on a few ride-alongs, once even during a police chase!

    This week the local police forces and those brought in from around the state for the convention are working (have actually already been working) extra-long hours and days without a break. The stress is tremendous, ranging from actual terrorist threats, garden-variety nutjobs, protests both planned and random, plus all the national attention and the potential for second-and-third-guessing. The chaplain teams from the various departments have also come together and are coordinating their efforts to provide support and comfort to their charges. Again, I don’t want to go into specifics that might compromise security, but it’s been an amazing process and culmination of events and very interesting to see what’s going on from behind the scenes.

    There’s some cool equipment, too. My wife has an official hat, badge, ID, wind-breaker, police-phone (when she’s on call) and car decals that give her access to places – and she was even offered a bullet-proof vest if she wants it!

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