From Thanksgiving to Christmas, ’tis the season of giving. The sight of familiar bell ringers drenched in rain, whipped by high winds, or chilled by freezing temperatures prompts us to drop a few coins in the red bucket. Letters from homeless shelters and orphanages may entice us to donate a few dollars. Then, there’s the holiday telephone call.
This evening while addressing Christmas cards—late I know, but with a fast truck and high winds, they might make it by Christmas Eve—I received a call from a person who identified himself as calling for Alameda County Peace Officers or something similar that evoked a mental image of a uniform and badge. Caught off guard—my mind still sealing envelopes and pressing stamps on those late greeting cards—I listened politely through the first part of the sad speech about collecting funds for a special event for children of officers killed in the line of duty. Then, like the mystery writer that I am, I asked one question.
“How many Alameda County Peace Officers have been killed in the line of duty?”
He didn’t know. Then I asked a second question (more like an accusation). He hung up. I replaced my phone and hurried past the greeting cards stacked on the table, prancing like one of Santa’s reindeer, to my laptop.
The stats: Out of eight Alameda County Sheriff’s officer deaths listed, the most recent was 1998. A Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) policeman was killed in 2014 from friendly fire by a fellow officer.
The biblical magi trusted astronomy and guarded their gold, frankincense, and myrrh until they found the right child. That event anchored the first century A.D. [C.E.] Christmas story. I trusted my instincts and confirmed online statistics with my laptop, my personal twenty-first century wise-woman tale that kept my coins in my pocket.
On second thought, I might drop them in the red bucket.