I hope everyone has made it through Tax Day. I dragged my mangy hide into H&R Block yesterday to do what had to be done. I will get a refund -- it's almost enough of a refund to pay H&R Block for doing my taxes for me.
Next year I will be able to do them myself again. No more self employment nonsense, so I won't have to pay my own SS taxes. Another nice thing about working for da man is getting your taxes withheld each check so you don't have to cough up a lung to pay IRS.
If things go as I expect (not necessarily "as I plan,") I might be able to do a 1040 EZ again next year. I like it simple like that.
Now, let's talk about something considerably less pleasant...
It's been a very hard week or six. One co-worker and I have practically killed ourselves working much too hard. I can't even think of all the hard stories we've done. What I can do to give you a feel for things is this: On Tuesdays we fill out our time cards, from the previous Wednesday to Tuesday.
I planned to leave at noon today because I already had so many hours in. I was going to leave as soon as I wrote two huge stories about the city commissioners' meeting last night. It was closer to 1 by the time I wrapped things up and started logging off the computer. Had I left at noon, I would have had 58 hours in. And that's what I put on my time card.
Well, no sooner had I logged off than the traffic on the police scanner started going crazy. My co-worker and I just stopped and looked at it like it was this crazy little being talking nonsense. We couldn't wrap our brains around what we were hearing.
There was a woman standing in the middle of the street next to the back drive of the police department with a gun. She fired a shot in the air to get the attention of officers on the drive. One of the officers radioed in to the communications center. Several times they told the woman to drop the gun and she did not. Instead, she turned the gun on herself and shot herself in the chest.
I turned to my co-worker and said "Let's roll." (No, I don't use that expression.) I grabbed my camera bag, notebook, purse and pens. A handful of pens. She grabbed the keys to the company Honda and we RAN.
The police department is about five blocks from our office. The ambulance crew was still getting the woman into the ambulance when we arrived. I recognized all the officers on the scene from a training exercise a couple of weeks ago.
When the woman shot herself, all the officers happened to be gathered in the municipal courtroom on the first floor of the police station. They all immediately hit the back door and had the scene taped off within seconds.
The last I heard the woman is still alive, in stable condition. She was transported to a hospital in Wichita, about 70 miles from here.
By the time I was finished with my reporting I had to add another couple of hours to my time card. I've spent my time since then thinking about the officers who were confronted with this human tragedy today and hoping they were debriefed well. I think about how the PIO called the chief to fill him in and hearing her scream "LISTEN TO ME. IT'S OVER. IT'S ALL ALREADY OVER" as I stood next to her, then hearing his car screaming to the scene seconds later.
I think about how this is not the worst thing I've covered in my career, bad as it is.
And I think about all the things I've complained about piling up on me this week, and how I am having a hard time now remembering what they are.
Funny how incredibly important they seemed a few hours ago.