I apologize if you have already heard this; I know you haven’t read it. Not from me.
It took me some time to figure it out. I needed to be away from the job for a while. If you don’t know already, I was a cop for thirty-four years. I only say that because someone might be reading my stuff for the first time. I hope that’s not the case, but welcome aboard if you are.
The thought overwhelmed me while out running errands the other day. I watched yet another pedestrian walk out in front of the car in front of me. I saw them coming because I always look for pedestrians as a habit. However, the driver in front of me did not. There was no crosswalk, so the motor vehicle operator did nothing wrong, and they were traveling slowly enough to stop abruptly. I stopped too.
The pedestrian lost his mind screaming something about not looking or driving fast; I know it was angry. He then employed the singular center finger, raised and intended in a manner that indicates a strong displeasure.
I saw the driver in front of me raise both his hands with palms up, coupled with a shoulder shrug; it can reveal many things. In this instance, it meant he didn’t see the darter. From my vantage point, it told me he was apologetic. That wasn’t enough for the pedestrian.
Once we got moving, the person who had now safely made it to the other sidewalk; everyone else be damned, continued to scream.
I don’t know if it was that moment or the millions that happened before it, but I relished not being in law enforcement with new vigor. I don’t want to be the person to mitigate any disagreements between humans. I think I whispered to myself, “never again.” I am sure I smiled.
I shared this—in passing—with a group I spoke to at Augusta’s Lithgow Library the other night. Someone asked I think. If not, it came up in one of my long-winded flights of ideas.
I am not a good public speaker, so if you ever come to hear me, expect to be slightly disappointed. What you will get is some honesty about how I came to be. Propped up along the way by good folks, I ended up writing books by mistake. It’s that simple.
But I am positive about why this cop is glad to be done. No respect. Insert an excellent Rodney Dangerfield joke here.
This is not a piece about respect for cops or me. Cops don’t deserve any more than your butcher, baker, or candlestick maker. I’m entirely on board with it. I accepted that things had changed years ago. However, I didn’t realize its equal was the lack of respect humans have for one another. I see it in almost all venues I’ve observed over the last seven months. I should say I don’t see any of it. It’s all but gone.
I don’t write anything based on being a cop anymore. My mind visits, sure, but I am not a cop. I am a regular Joe, just trying to enjoy what’s left of the world I slipped away from decades ago.
I would enjoy it more if I could report that things are improving; I’d be lying.
Here’s my plan; follow along if you like. I will work harder to respect others with a reassuring nod of the hat to change things all by myself.
I will embrace that man’s response to the petulant pedestrian. He gave the universal hand signals for “sorry, didn’t see you.” He wasn’t at fault, but he acquiesced that he could have done better. No, it wasn’t enough for the crossing man. It never will be. I know my plan is fraught with futility.
I’ve watched the comments on the police page turn sour over the last year. Much worse than it ever was before. Once it goes that way, it becomes a perpetual motion machine creating similar responses from all hands on deck.
It’s but a tiny peephole into the world around us. We give no respect; we get none in return. I am on board when someone needs to be told that it’s about time they crap in their hat, but maybe I can try a couple of different, more positive responses before I take it to DEF CON FINGER.
More hands up and shoulder shrugs, maybe? Will it change things? Probably not.
I sat with an old friend last night. He’s a bright, articulate retiree. His knowledge base is expansive. He helped people keep their money for years. He is an immigrant to America, a hard worker, and a man who always remembers your name. His accent is lovely to listen to, making many of his words seem more profound.
He asked if I was happy with my decision to leave law enforcement. I replied in the affirmative. We ended up on the topic of respect for one another. He was in solid agreement with me regarding societal changes in all workplaces.
I said, “Dan, how can we show up and be expected to fix or even mitigate disagreements when the initial parties involved don’t respect one another? There is no way they are going to listen to a cop who they disrespect, possibly to a greater extent than they do each other.”
He finally said, “Tim, you are correct. But it stems from the fact that people have no respect for themselves, don’t you think?”
There you have it. It’s my essay, but Dan closed it out.
We can do better, and I hope we will.
I am glad you all stopped by to read the stuff. I appreciate it so much.
From the Jagged Edge of America, I remain,
*Thank you for your continued support with notes, reviews of my books, support through BuyMeACoffee, and the smiles I hope to provide from time to time.