I was the Operations Manager at the new 911 Center the October 1996 night that Officer Jim Mullen was shot, the bullet severing his spinal cord at the neck. The paramedics updated us on his condition as they were en route to the hospital, the code they used translated to “extremely critical” the very worst classification. They did not expect him to make it to the hospital. Jim somehow survived, a quadriplegic on a respirator.
Jim gets around—local parades, speaking engagements, but I have never had the occasion to run into him even though he lives nearby.
It was a nice day, in the 70’s. I walked to the bank to make a deposit and talk to a banker and inside was Jim Mullen also waiting for a banker. In a wheelchair with a portable respirator, a thick translucent tube running from the respirator mounted on the back of his chair into his neck. Two attendants waited with him.
“Hi!” he said with a strong voice.” How’s retirement treating you?”
“I’m doing great.” I said. “How are you?” regretting the cliché as soon as it left my lips.
“I have never been better!” he said. The sparkle in his bright blue eyes told me he was more than sincere.
“You were a Lieutenant weren’t you?” he said.
“Yes,” I said, “but the night you were shot I was the Operations Manager at the 911 Center. Scary times”
“Yes they were.” he replied.
We chatted for several minutes. He’s selling applesauce, his mother’s recipe and it’s starting to take off. (http://www.mullenfoods.com/)
He’s at the bank today to try to eliminate some of the new service charges the bank has instituted in recent weeks. Me too.
He’s gotten into computers since he was shot, never knew a thing about them before but he’s pretty good at it he says… “I use the voice recognition software and it works very well for me.”
He finds the Chicago winters difficult because his system has trouble regulating his body temperature when it’s cold.
His dad, former Chicago Police, is 91… has been retired for 34 years.
His daughter, an infant when he was injured, turned 17 this year.
Idle chit chat, but his inflection was spirited, his voice strong.
He finished first and called a greeting to me as they wheeled him out.
A few moments later one of the attendants returned. “Are you Jim?” she asked. “Here, he wants to give you this.”
A jar of applesauce.
So you think you got problems bunky?
Author’s note: I learned recently that an organization named Kickstarter is facilitating a campaign to raise funds for Jim Mullen to take his applesauce business to the next level. He’s just shy of his next milestone and the campaign ends November 30, 2013. Point your browser to http://tinyurl.com/kaubgkp and read more about this project, then make a donation to this exceptional venture.