Things I used to like

NewYear's eveI used to like yard sales, a lot.

I loved going through things and finding lost treasures; getting a good deal.  And then I grew older, and more to the point I joined the Reserves (not the Military Reserves, but the Deputy Sheriff’s Reserves.)

Then I saw the traffic hazards.  Then I saw people parking randomly (and quite suddenly), people parking on the side of the road, only they weren’t on the side of the road; people parking half in/half off the roadway, throwing their car doors open with reckless abandon’; people so intent on the next deal, the next treasure that they randomly walked across the street, trusting their fellow man to slow down for them.

I used to like band competitions.

I loved pitting our band director’s choreography and musical arrangements and our skills as performers against other bands (and technically the judges).

And now (Reserves again) all I see is, crowd control; getting people in and out without getting hurt; keeping kids from getting into any more trouble than not having enough money for sodas. I see all the potential targets for some idiot with a point to prove.

I used to love parades.

And now I see all the logistics and dangers, the hoops that have to be jumped through and the people who think ‘I can just slip in here and drive through… it won’t hurt anybody.

I guess its all your POV.

So… the next time you see  a Police Officer, or a State Trooper, or a Deputy doing their job, or taking a ‘doughnut break’ think about this:

They’re out there enforcing the laws.  They’re doing a job that is often thankless and… if they do it right… is never noticed because you’re having a good time and nobody got hurt.

Sometimes when they’re ‘just standing around doing nothing’ they might be exchanging information on things they’ve seen, trends to watch out for; they might even be taking an honest to God coffee break (I mean, if we’re allowed cooler breaks/and coffee breaks, why shouldn’t they?); when you see a picture of the police doing a house to house search for a criminal who has proven to be armed, dangerous and not above taking hostages and killing innocents maybe they aren’t being ‘jackbooted thugs’ who are ignoring all those home owner’s rights… Maybe they’re trying to clear the houses to make sure the people are safe and aren’t refusing them because they’re being held at gun point, maybe they’re trying to safely evacuate people before the person sets off a bomb or worse.

Think about all those people ‘showing that stupid cop’ in a video ‘so and so teaches the police officer the law.’  Think about the number of times that officer has had to face a potentially deadly situation *that* day alone.  Think about the fact that every time they pull someone over, they have no way of knowing who they’re dealing with or what frame of mind they’re in.  Is the person dangerous? Are they going to pull a gun? Is some idiot on their cell phone going to run into him while he’s doing his job because they’re too distracted to notice him there?  And, oh, yeah, and is he going to be able to keep the driver he’s pulled over safe?

These are the things that go through a police officer’s mind, every day, every situation.  There is no routine.  When they forget this, people die.

Everything is a potential threat, and believe me… they have heard it all before.

As a reserve I say “No detail is over until at least two of the following have happened:  someone has tried to ignore you because they know better or they didn’t see you (although how you can go around someone you didn’t see, I’ll never know); someone who feels they know better asks, “Do you know who I am?” or informs the officer that “I know  (insert impressive person in power in jurisdiction here) or  a person will stop and ask for directions.

Usually when a police officer is directing you to go somewhere or not go somewhere, there’s a reason and 98% of the time… its not their fault.  Yes, its an inconvenience to you but in the case of a reserve odds are they were in their bed, nice and warm and fast asleep when they got a phone call to come out and help direct traffic around an accident scene in the middle of a cold/wet/rainy night.  They’re a lot more inconvenienced than you are, because they have to tell, not just you that you can’t go that way, they have to tell everyone behind you the exact same thing.  And if they’re brusque it’s because they have to keep traffic flowing and each person asking them ‘well what do I do?’ adds up and if they don’t keep traffic flowing, they get yelled at, not just by you and everyone behind you, but but the regular officers, and the Officer in Charge.

If they want to keep traffic flowing… they can’t answer every question, and to be honest, half the time… they don’t have the answers.

I used to like my fellow man, but that was before I got yelled at because someone had called in a bomb threat and a home owner couldn’t go home because of it.  I used to like my fellow man before I had to deal with a woman who jumped out into the middle of a motorcycle run because she had an appointment and couldn’t think to sit where she was and use her cell phone for something other than a distraction.  I used to like my fellow man before someone nearly hit my partner because they were busy with their phone instead of  being a responsible driver.

It’s hard to remember the people who say thank you, the ones who recognize what you’re doing and trying to do; the people who ask if you’re all right, when all you get is grief from the people who feel everything that happened here is your fault, harsh words from the people who are going to be late because of an accident you had nothing to do with, and the logistical nightmare that these very same people are making that much worse.

Its all in your point of view.  As a writer, you learn to look at the story from the character’s point of view, maybe we should apply that to real life as well.

I’d like to enjoy these things again, I’d love to like my fellow man, it’s hard, but we can try and meet each other half way… all it takes is looking at it from the other person’s perspective.

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