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'Tis The (Magnified) Silly Season

Every year near Thanksgiving, “The Silly Season” kicks off.  It’s almost like you can watch it following Santa Claus down the road at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  “Oh, look!  There’s Santa!!”  “Yep.  And there’s supreme idiocy following right along behind him.”  Thankfully, in years past, the idiocy was somewhat contained to specific dates.  Black Friday.  Cyber Monday (and thank God we don’t patrol the virtual world).  Most of December up to and including Christmas Eve.  And that increased stupidity we encountered mostly revolved around shopping.  Welcome to the dawning of a new era.

This year, still thinking about shopping, we didn’t get to wait until Black Friday.  Many a commercial entity, eager to start getting dollars out of shoppers’ pockets as early in the season as possible, opened their doors on Thanksgiving itself.  So, instead of only having to deal with the usual variety of domestics, drunks, etc. on Thanksgiving Day, we had to extend our refereeing talents to the lines of shoppers, arguing shoppers, fighting shoppers, poor driving shoppers…  Well, you get the idea.  The madness related to holiday shopping came early.  To make matters worse, not only did retailers start Black Friday before Friday, they’ve extended the sales and hype so Black Friday’s stupidity level is stretching out to several weeks in length.  JOY!  But wait, there’s more…

Just in case that wasn’t enough, we have a few extra tidbits unique to this year that you’ll also likely have impact your work day somehow.  Let’s start with “the end of the world as we know it” according to the Mayan calendar.  For those in the know and in touch with reality, this is no big deal.  We’ve educated ourselves enough to realize that the Mayan calendar marks time in a collection of eras and 12/21/2012 marks the end of one of many eras.  There are plenty more to come.  The Mayan calendar simply predicts 12/21/2012 as the date a noticeable change occurs in the world as we know it.  Let’s consider this for just a moment and realize that, from the Mayan’s perspective, 12/21/2012 occurred months ago (as we measure time).  How can that be?  Because the current calendar has February 29th on it every four years.  Such did not exist when the Mayans carved their eras into stones a few thousand years ago.  So, if you take out all the February 29ths that have passed since the Mayan’s made their calendar, “the end of the world as we know it” occurred sometime last June I think.  Will this logical and rational approach toward the Mayan calendar prevent related mass stupidity?  Nope.

We all know that some people are just naturally driven toward stupidity and seek out any even-remotely-valid excuse to behave as they see fit – no matter how ridiculous or illegal.  Such folks will cling to their reality: that 12/21/2012 marks the end of the world so they have to get their selfish party on as much as possible before their life ends.  I remind everyone of the Y2K silliness that we experienced and dealt with, and encourage you to remain as vigilant on 12/20-22/2012 as you were on 12/31/1999.

Next up is a truly sad and world-changing event: the apparent end of Twinkies.  I say “apparent” because nothing prevents the recipe from being bought and the sweet treat being made by a different baking company.  That said, it may not be called a “Twinkie” so we may have actually seen the end of the product.

Twinkies have long been linked both to police work and, at least in two movies, to potentially world-ending or severely-world-altering events.  First, the cop side: Ever since the classic Die Hard premiere movie, with Sgt. Al Powell’s reciting of the recipe contents of a Twinkie and carrying an armload of them out to his cruiser, Twinkies and cops have been connected.  To make matters worse, depending on how you look at it, that was also a holiday movie occurring at Christmas time.  With the demise of Twinkies, that scene becomes an instant classic, never to be lost to the annals of time, and always to be revered by cops everywhere with earnest remembrance.

As to the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-Twinkie connection…  In the movie Ghostbusters, a Twinkie was used as a demonstration learning tool to describe the amount of evil energy being loosed on the city of New York.  How many of you remember the immortal, yet simple, line:  “That’s a big Twinkie.”  Without the heroic actions of the Ghostbusters in their epic battle against the gigantic Stay-Puff Marshmallow man, New York – and quite possibly the rest of the world – would have been destroyed.  But a Twinkie was the demonstration tool.

The next end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-Twinkie connection occurred in the new classic movie, Zombieland.  When the character Tallahassee, played by Woody Harrelson, spends the entire movie looking for a Twinkie, the delicious treat became a center piece of motivation and reason for survival.  Rule #32: Take time to enjoy the little things in life.  For Tallahassee, the Twinkie was one of those little things he just can’t live without.  Fifty years from now when my great grandchildren look up at me and say, “GG, what’s a Twinkie?” as we watch that movie, I’ll have to smile and try to figure out exactly how to explain it.

Finally, this holiday season, we get to deal with whatever idiotic fallout will come from the last repetitive date we’ll see this century being marked on our calendar:  12/12/12.  December 12th, 2012 will be the last time there is a repetitive date on the calendar until the year 2101 – eighty-nine years from now.  I doubt I’ll be around for it, but I intend to try.

For virtually every repetitive date that has occurred in the past twelve years (beginning with 01/01/01) there has been some kind of end-of-the-world myth.  My favorite is the 11-11-11 myth that, on that date, all law enforcement and military will cease to exist and the world will evolve from that date on without the use of force by anyone… ever.  How cool would that be?  Such a peaceful world.  Unfortunately, humans aren’t all peaceful by nature so I think that one was especially ridiculous.  I also feel bad for several people I met who had “11-11-11” tattood on the inside of their right wrist, apparently identifying themselves as believers in the certain coming of the era of world peace on that date.  What does that tattoo mean now?

For the 12-12-12, although I can’t find any real record or report of it, I’m sure someone somewhere has not only predicted the end of the world but they are also trying to leverage it either for power, or money, or as another excuse to exercise their stupidity.  I DID meet one person who felt the Mayan’s got it right but someone misread the date and transposed the second 1 with the second 2 so that “12/21/12” SHOULD have read “12/12/12.”  That particular individual felt the world had nine less days left to it than so many others seem to believe.

All of this adds up to one sure reality:  we in law enforcement will have to deal with even greater levels of crime and stupidity than we do in a “normal” holiday season.  Stay safe.  Pay attention.  Wear your vest.  Maintain your equipment.  Back up your fellow officers and don’t hesitate to ask for back up.  Review and remember the Ten Deadly Errors and commit to avoiding them in your own behavior.  Survive the holiday season; emerge victorious in every threat encounter.

Because I was born into and raised in the Christian faith, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas as well as a safe and prosperous New Year.  I will happily accept any holiday greeting you might wish to express.