I'm not one for racist humor, and, though I love gallows humor, I find it difficult to translate that to anyone who hasn't shared similar instances where that sort of humor is accepted. Case in point, the following story that just popped up in the old memory banks.
As a 911 Operator at the end of the century (hey, that sounds like a the premise for a sci-fi show), my co-workers and I were inundated with dire calls and not so dire calls on a daily basis...just sayin. Gallows, off-color and low brow humor were survival mechanisms for dealing with ungodly stress. I'm not making excuses...I'm giving reasons. Domestic Violence or even simple Domestic Disturbances were very commonplace in the region where I dispatched and answered 911 calls.
On one particular occasion we received a 911 call from a white woman (I don't care what you say, but there are certain auditory cues that are fairly reliable when determining a person's race...add to that that we have the capability of looking up their criminal and driving records, which usually contain photos...in this case it was obvious...they were both crackers) claiming her husband was yelling, screaming and generally terrifying her. We try not to assume too much because the officer that arrives on scene needs to have as much objective and unbiased info as they can get to assess the situation and determine who is the victim and who is the perpetrator, if not mutual. Seconds after my co-worker received the call and we had dispatched a unit to the address, with backup on the way, we received another call from the husband's cell just outside. This is an initial relief, as this dictates that at the very least, they are already separated and subsequently, there are no reported injuries or weapons. Bad news is, there was a newborn baby in the house.
As 911 Operators, we are required by law to remain on the line until we hear the officer arrive at the scene to insure we capture as much of the incident as possible. That means staying on the line even if the phone is dropped, and recalling if it hangs up. Once you get the particulars, there is often some awkward silence as there are no more questions left to ask, and once that downtime starts is usually when the disturbance heats up again until the officer arrives. It may be seconds or minutes, but it's high stress dead air and the best of us try to keep the person talking in the hopes that the idea that the police are on the phone, and on the way, will keep tempers in check. This rarely works, and this case was no exception.
The husband walked up to the trailer (yep, I'll say it...that's where a lot of these calls occurred in that area...they're just like great, big boxes of joy) to get his cigarettes out of the house. The wife began to scream for him to "stay the fuck away". He just yelled back that he was getting his smokes and to shut the fuck up...blah, blah, blah. That ignited the whole argument again and try as we might, we couldn't get him out or her to stop instigating and pushing the argument...both were determined to get the last word in.
After some barely intelligible words passed back and forth, we got the gist that they had just brought the baby home, the wife had been unfaithful, and the question to the baby's paternity was the source of the fray.
A side note, the microphones on these 911 consoles are, thankfully, armed with a foot transmit pedal. When you want to speak, you have to depress the pedal to activate the microphone. Let go, and it's a dead mike...thank god.
The next comment the wife made was accompanied by a snide scoff, but otherwise unclear. The husbands response will stay with me for the rest of my life and I'm eternally grateful that my and my co-workers mikes were not on:
"Go ahead and laugh now, bitch. It's all fun and games until the baby comes out black."
I believe the both of us were useless for 30 seconds as we ended up on the floor with tears in our eyes. It took about five minutes until we could repeat the comment, and the rest of the team were on the floor.
From that moment on, and for months to come, that was our response to damn near any snide comment made in the offices...by all dispatchers, cops, firemen and EMTs regardless of gender or race.
I give credit to the husband that he did not succumb to the stereotype of the drunken, redneck, trailer park denizen, and never touched his wife. I don't know what happened to them, but I've always hoped that they stayed together and he got a shirt for the baby with that line on it and won every argument thereafter with those very words.