Sunday, October 01, 2006

Jimmy from homicide

More than anything, life in a war zone is made tolerable by the characters you meet. People here are just larger than life. Most are so in a Chuck Norris sort of way but some are so in a Mike Ditka sort of way. One of those is Jimmy, a homicide cop from Cleveland. I first met Jimmy in July and we quickly hit it off. On the civilian side, Jimmy has been a Cleveland cop for 32 years and will retire next year. In the Navy he’s been a diver for about the same time, rising from seaman to commander during that time.

Like any cop, Jimmy is full of stories; mostly profane, mostly grotesque and all supremely funny. Little does Jimmy realize, he’s unwittingly just as funny as his stories. Life for Jimmy is simple; work, family and the Cleveland Browns.

Last week Jimmy had the opportunity of a lifetime. He was selected to do a “shout out” live before a Browns game, to be broadcast locally and on the jumbotron at the Brown’s stadium. Let’s just say Jimmy has a cop’s way with words, so he decided he better practice so as to not screw things up. After all his family, friends, fellow police officers were going to get to see him.

He practiced his lines anxiously before the broadcast. The camera was set up in Fallujah and he and three other Browns fans lined up and each would get their turn. To ensure good sound they would use a phone to speak into. The producer was on satellite phone and they were given the warning…”3…2…1…” and the lights came on and the camera went live. It would be Jimmy’s big moment.

The first guy went and he spoke his greetings. He then handed Jimmy the phone. Jimmy looked at the camera, smiled and said “Hi this is Jimmy in Camp Fallujah, Iraq and I want to say hi to my wife….” and he froze. A couple of seconds passed and everyone looked at him, but nothing came out. Finally, he blurted out “shit!” and handed the phone to the next guy.

His wife later called the Cleveland Browns office and asked about getting a copy of the game. “Oh your husband’s the guy who said ‘shit’ on the jumbotron”. I told Jimmy maybe he’d wind up on the highlight tape at the end of the season. Anyway, he’s a local legend now.