The Baffling Thing About Police
Posted on June 11 2018
When I was around 17 years of age, I drove a Camaro T-Top that I'd purchased with my own money. My first car was a Ford Tempo so the Camaro, for a 17 yr old, was the greatest thing ever and I loved driving that thing around. One day while driving through my hometown I was approaching an intersection where I noticed a police officer waiting to turn into my lane. The light for me was green and as I approached I did what I assume every person does when they see a police officer; they go through this panic stage and go through a mental checklist. Registration up to date, speed, seatbelt? Check. In all the panic, the light turned red and the police officer pulled out to make the turn. I didn't notice. I punched straight through the intersection and in a move that Dale Earnhardt would have respected, I jerked the wheel and narrowly avoided T-boning the officer. I just pulled over. No need for prompting. Before the officer even got out of the car, I had gathered all of the necessary documentation.
She approached my car and upon noticing she was a woman, this hormonal boy became more nervous. I already sucked at talking to girls let alone an officer of the law that I just about killed. I told her good afternoon and sheepishly handed her the documents. The only thing she said was, "You been drinkin'?" My face undoubtedly red I replied, "If I was 21 I'd certainly go looking for one now. I got so focused on you and I didn't notice the light change. I'm an idiot." She handed me my documents back, chuckled a little, and said "Well try to be a little more careful; have a good one." I was in shock. I thought to myself that maybe I was let off because I was a man and she was a woman. Was this how women get out of tickets? A sheer gender thing? Regardless, I was lucky, she was awesome, and I went on my way. But I still get that paranoia when I see an officer in my rear-view mirror. I assume everybody does. But now I think a little bit differently.
Having been a Marine, I'm now frankly baffled by them. I know the mindset that it takes to carry a gun; accepting that you may have to kill with it and yet have to carry on living. I know what it's like to work in nothing but evil; to spend your days just surrounded in it, experiencing the worst of humanity and yet are ever expected to act the gentleman and professional. I know what it's like to look across the room at your brothers and wonder whether or not either one of you will be there at the end of the day, forcing from your mind the scenario play in which you have to tell their mother, father, wife, and child just how their daddy lived and yet in that moment, laugh with each other and share each other's dreams. I know what it's like to be pushed to my breaking point both mentally and physically, to have to focus only on getting through that very moment because if you think beyond that, you just might break and yet as you look at the guys next to you, you find you've got a little more to give. I know what it's like to lose a brother and yet ten minutes later throw on your pack, pick up that rifle, and step back outside the wire.
But what I don't know is how, after all of that, the police officer can go home that very day and be a husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter. I don't know the mindset it takes to put on a gun and yet tickle your little girl to hear her giggle. I don't know what it's like work in nothing but evil and yet be thoughtful enough to stop at the flower shop on the way home because your wife had a rough day. I don't know what it's like to be pushed to the breaking point both mentally and physically, and yet spend that evening patiently helping your son with math homework. I don't know what it's like to lose a brother and yet stop by your mom's house on the way home because she's older now and needs help changing out the bathroom light bulb. And I don't know what it's like to wonder if murderers, gang-members, terrorists, or rapists that you'd previously arrested or hunted earlier that day followed you home.
As a former service-member, I am lucky enough, unlike those who returned from Vietnam, to get thanked a lot. While honored, I always feel a little uncomfortable about it. I'm not sure why but I do. But now when I come across a law-enforcement officer, I can't help but thank them. I'm not sure how they feel about it. But I am genuinely thankful for what they do. And I frankly don't know how they do it.
-Tony / Founder at Sheepdog Strong