My retirement from the police department becomes official on Tuesday.
I’ve been on leave for the better part of this month. I’ve spent the time doing important things like exercising, watching football, growing a beard and growing a beard while watching football. I guess you could say that I’ve been retired for a month, but the official date is Tuesday.
As it got closer to time for me to go, I thought a lot about leaving the career that I loved.
Was it really time to go? Everything about leaving made sense, given the course of my life. But I still got a lot out of the job and was able to get it done. I did have to admit that when I got it done it was a lot slower and much craftier than when I was in my twenties. Still, crafty is at least as effective as being swift. Often it’s more effective. But the question was still there, was I done?
I needed something. I needed a sign. A sign that said, “it’s time to go.”
Twenty-eight years of policing changed me. A lot of those changes were good; there are a few that I will fix.
The biggest change is that certain things just didn’t sound odd to me anymore. Sure, shady people in suspicious circumstances still got my attention. But some other stuff that really should have made me scratch my head, didn’t. I got my sign a little over a year ago.
This Actually Made Sense, To Them And To Me…
On a particularly busy Saturday afternoon, I was on the way to two calls – a robbery and a stabbing. As a sergeant, I was expected to show up at “major” calls like those to make sure we were getting the investigation off to a good start. As I drove, a third major call came out – a kidnapping.
The stabbing was the biggest problem, so I elected to go there first. I listened to the radio for information on the robbery and the kidnapping. While I got involved in the stabbing call, I heard that the robbery was a false alarm. That left the kidnapping.
A few minutes later, I heard my number called on the radio. I answered and an officer told me I wasn’t needed for the kidnapping call. “It was just a baby shower” was the only explanation I received. I acknowledged what he’d said then went back to work at the scene I was on.
As I went off to sleep that night, I started thinking.
At that moment, ten hours after it happened, it finally occurred to me to wonder how a baby shower could result in someone believing there was a kidnapping going on. And it hit me – I was so used to weird that it wasn’t even weird anymore.
…And THAT Was My Sign
The next morning, I spoke with the officer who’d handled the baby shower/non-kidnapping. He wasn’t really sure what happened either. All he could tell me that everyone was calm and happy when he arrived. The people who made the 911 call told him “we thought it was a kidnapping but it was a baby shower.”
I’ve been to kidnappings and I’ve been to a baby shower. The only thing that the two events have in common are that people are present for both sorts of events. There was no danger to anyone at the baby shower I went to. Gifts and silly games were not involved in any of the kidnappings I worked.
When I realized that I’d spent twenty-eight years in a world where people said stuff like “we thought it was a kidnapping, but it was a baby shower” every day and truly meant it, I also realized that I’d seen and given enough.
I can let go now. I’m at peace and ready for a new adventure.
My best wishes, respect and love to those who remain on the job. I miss you and The Rock already. I’d swap places with any and all of you if they’d let me get even one of you to safety sooner. Blessings upon all of you for getting me here.
Y’all be careful.
I meet a lot of people who complain about getting older. That’s their right, I suppose. You’ll not hear me whine about aging. When a person stops aging, they don’t get much else done. I’ve got too much on my plate right now to stop aging.
Getting older has meant a lot of change for me. My solar sex panel is expanding. A lot of people call me sir. That used to happen at work because of my rank, now it’s because I’m an antique. A kid is now defined as someone under 28. I’m starting to get senior discounts. The ads that are targeted toward me are changing too.
“Ya know what they should do with these guys, don’t ya?”
When my brother and I were young, this was the line that usually preceded our father holding forth on some issue. It was usually a good idea to stop and listen to what followed that line. In fact, it still is a good idea. Dad is a practical man, with a humorous streak.
If Dad announces the solution to a societal problem, there are three things which are certain:
- The solution would likely work
- It would be hysterical to see happen
- What he proposes would have little chance of being implemented, because of those first two things
This is the tale of his best problem solving idea. Read the rest of this entry »
It is college graduation season. On a local radio news show, they mentioned some speakers who were giving graduates their send off speech. Traditionally, politicians would have littered any list of graduation speakers. The list I heard was trending away from the political realm. Among the speakers mentioned were a retired NFL kicker and Darius Rucker, the singer from the band Hootie and the Blowfish.
I like Rucker. He comes across as a personable guy and he co-wrote “Only Wanna Be With You.” He and Hootie also recorded an absolutely wicked version of the Bill Withers hit “Use Me.” I would invite Darius to speak based solely on how hard he rocked “Use Me.”
But the bigger news is that if singers and NFL kickers have wrested control of the graduation speaker market from politicians, it is only a matter of time until obscure bloggers are holding forth before graduates. Once obscure bloggers get their chance, it is a short drop to me. Read the rest of this entry »
It seemed to me that I ought to write something for Mothers Day, but that wasn’t going so well.
I took a break from being frustrated and remembered, mid-break, that I ought to call my Mom and let her know when I would stop by for a Mother’s Day visit. We talked about our days, and then she remembered that she had something she wanted to talk to me about.
On the way in to where she’d left herself a note, she asked if I’d ever seen Antiques Roadshow. I told her I had, but not today. “Someone was on with what looked like pencil drawings, but they were done by Picasso and …oh here’s my note…Picasso and Matisse. You know about them, right?” Read the rest of this entry »
The Wolf was a block and a half away when I turned toward the coffee shop. There’s a sunny spot on the street where I see him on cool mornings. That’s where he was, sitting on his walker, soaking up a little extra warmth.
I make a point of not driving up to him in a police car when I spot him. Back in the day, me pulling up in a police car was often the start of a bad evening for at least one of us. It just works out better now to let him come around on his own.
When I walked out of the shop with my hot chocolate (with blackberry syrup, trust me on this one) he was out near the driveway. “Good morning, Sarge, God bless you.” I returned the blessing and he turned back toward the street.
I walked toward him. As I got close I spoke quietly – “coming up behind you.” He laughed and asked why I didn’t warn him like that twenty years ago. “You know damned well why I didn’t” I said. He grinned and admitted that he did. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday, I was at my parents place for dinner.
Here is where the story goes back in time to the part that is spookily like the movie A Christmas Story.
Lets Go Back To 1969
When I was in third grade, my dad got a new job. His first assignment was in Charleston, West Virginia. There were a lot of differences between Charleston and my previous home, Hoboken, New Jersey. Differences like I could play outside and I couldn’t see Manhattan. I was a kid, so I adapted and made friends.
One of the friends I made had a bb gun. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. What’s the best way to get the coolest stuff when you’re a kid? Ask for it for Christmas.
Well, that worked. My dad bought me a bb gun and put it under the tree. I later learned he did it over the objection of my mom and grandparents. It wasn’t just any bb gun, it was a double barrel gun. Even the coolest kid in the neighborhood had never heard of such a thing until I showed him my Daisy Model 21 Double Barrel bb gun.
My father showed me how to use it in the back yard. I used it to knock over cans and bottles across the yard. I never fired it toward any animals and I did not shoot my eye out.
Here comes the part where the story returns to yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »
A few days ago, I saw the Harlem Globetrotters play. It had been quite a while since I’d seen them last, but they are still fun to watch. In case you’re wondering, the Trotters won.
At one point, the Globetrotters’ mascot, Globie, performed. He had a child from the audience with him, dressed just like him. I thought about what a fun opportunity that would be for a child. A child, or anyone else. Anyone else, for instance, me.
“Why not me?” I thought. I’ve got experience as a costumed mascot character person. Not enough experience to come up with a better job title than “costumed mascot character person”, but I’ve got some mascot street cred. Perhaps enough credibility to land a mascot job when I retire.
I put some thought into the applicable experiences that I’ve had and could list on my mascot resume. Here is what I came up with.
McGruff, The Crime Dog
You remember McGruff, right? He reminded us to “take a bite out of crime” by following his crime prevention and safety tips. I work for a police department, we had our own McGruff costume, so my first mascot experience was as the crime dog.
McGruff was the best of my mascot gigs in many ways. The costume wasn’t very complex: a big dog head, matching gloves and booties and a heavily lined tan trench coat. It was by far the cleanest costume I wore. Read the rest of this entry »