I look at myself in the mirror. Have I changed that much? It's been mere weeks since I met two men who changed my life--saved it, most probably, but also shook up the thinking and attitudes I've had since taking the badge.
I can't believe I was so set in my ways--I'm not that old! I blame it on the job, on the system. Working in what is for the most part still a boys' club made me think I had to play the game the way a man would. Showing no weakness, pissing contests, pulling rank--those are the things I thought I had to do to compete, forgetting that women bring different strengths to the table. Collaborating, multi-tasking, influencing, grace under pressure.
My chance to shine as a newly-minted captain came unexpectedly. Simon Banks, captain of the Major Crime division, had been shot during a bank holdup. It was simply bad luck that he was in the bank applying for a loan. He stopped one of the robbers from shooting the bank guard, but was himself shot in the process. As the only captain without a permanent assignment, I was asked to fill in. I accepted immediately, thinking this would be a way to get noticed, perhaps even get my own command. I showed up in the bullpen, introduced myself and let them know what I expected of the detectives there. There was some eye-rolling--to be expected-- but no one voiced any questions or objections. I also learned that Joel Taggert had just transferred in from the Bomb Squad. My first order of business would be to get him up to speed on MC procedures.
The first time I met Jim Ellison, he sneezed--several times. Apparently, he was allergic to the flowers I'd brought in to spruce up the stark office. As I look back, perhaps it wasn't so stark. Although it didn't have the feminine touches of a wife's influence, the angel statues, pictures of Daryl and the fancy coffee machine were personable enough. Ellison actually sauntered in, his ride-along in tow. I'd read some of the contributions Sandburg made and heard more from some of the other captains. I was actually a little shocked that Banks allowed him to continue--Sandburg had been in several operations where he'd ended up getting injured.
He appeared a little nervous; the others had probably told them about my new rules. He was right to be nervous; the first thing I did was revoke his ride-along privileges. He left under protest and Ellison dug in, expecting to get his way. Too bad--I needed him to integrate Taggert in a hurry. We could review Sandburg's status later, once Ellison accepted my authority. Of course, he didn't need to know that I was willing to give and take. He left, his body language screaming that he had not given up the fight. I called Taggert and assigned him to his new partner.
The next day, Ellison tried his version of submission, wearing a jacket and tie. When it didn't sway me to change my mind about Sandburg, he quickly dropped the compliance.
Then, out of the blue, he showed up in the middle of an undercover operation I was running. How he knew about it, I never found out. I was pissed that he confronted me about not following procedures, but grateful that he probably saved me from a bullet. We negotiated a trade; I agreed to reinstate Sandburg in exchange for Ellison helping me complete the op. I learned a lesson in teamwork when the three of us ended up successfully breaking up an illegal Freon smuggling ring. It was a little dicey on the ferry, but both Ellison and Sandburg did a great job ad-libbing as the situation changed. The operation was shut down more or less peacefully and Sabin and his gang are awaiting trial.
I decide to pull my hair into a ponytail before putting on my baseball cap. I add sunglasses, since it's a rare clear day. I head out to Memorial Park, where players are already warming up on the baseball field.
"Here comes our pitcher!" I hear Sandburg shout out. I smile and wave, putting on my glove and pointing it at him. He promptly throws a ball in my direction--he has a pretty good arm. Major Crime and Vice are teamed up against Homicide and Narcotics, with men and women from the smaller squads filling in to make large enough teams. Simon is still recovering from his gunshot wound; he can't play but he and Daryl are calling out encouragements from the bleachers.
I'd been shocked and honored when Ellison called to ask if I could fill in for Simon one more time. Apparently, Sandburg heard about my success as a softball player at Stanford and I'm sure they wanted any advantage they could get. Still, I was touched by the invite and determined to do my best. It was the least I could do before heading off to Rampart Substation for my first permanent command. I'll be taking the things I learned from Ellison and Sandburg with me--dedication, cooperation and intelligence, as well as their sense of fun and camaraderie.
"Let's play ball!" I hear the umpire call out. I smile. Message received, gentlemen.