When I was little, I thought that being a cop would be the coolest fallback job in the world, if for some reason I wasn’t able to play short stop for the St. Louis Cardinals.
My dad was a cop for a few years in the seventies and always spoke so fondly of his time on the force. One of my favorite uncles and a lot of my dad’s best friends were also cops, so I figured if those great guys enjoyed doing it, then surely I would too. The stories they shared while throwing beers back were hilarious, even to a kid pretending not to be paying attention to the adults’ conversation.
Despite spending hours and hours fielding racquetballs and tennis balls thrown against stairs or the garage door to hone my fielding skills so I’d be as good as Ozzie Smith someday, for reasons that are a post unto themselves one day, my baseball dream faded into a pipe dream and withered away completely sometime during my college years.
I went away to college with thoughts of medical or maybe dental school in my future, but after four years playing soccer, drinking beer and earning my Biology and Psychology degrees, barely, I was too tired to go to school anymore.
I ran off to Dallas and worked for Anheuser-Busch for a few years, but the desire to help people as a police officer was still stuck in my skull and I couldn’t shake it. By this point, I didn’t really consider myself cop material. I don’t know what I thought cop material was, but I didn’t think I was it, whatever it was. If I’m honest with myself, I still thought I was meant for great things and was too good to be doing police work, plus there was no money in it, after all.
After several years working crazy hours and drinking more beer than I ever did in college, I needed a change. My then girlfriend (Wife now) was living in the St. Louis area and I was missing my home town a bit. I’d long known that Wife was the one I wanted to marry, so I applied to be a cop in the City of St. Louis.
After 22 weeks in the academy, I landed in the District I’d hoped to and was thrilled with how life was going.
I imagined car chases and shoot outs and waving to kids and being respected for all of it as what policing was all about. I figured I’d do it for a couple of years and then move on to bigger and better things.
It’s been fifteen years and I’m still a cop.
I did go to law school and passed the bar, but being a cop is still what I identify myself as when people ask what I do.
Has it been everything I hoped it would be? No, not exactly.
Car chases are terrifying. If you’re not driving the car, you’re at the mercy of the person who is. If you’re lucky, it’s a person you’ve worked a long time with and are comfortable letting drive you at speeds over 100 mph after armed suspects, but that’s seldom the case nowadays.
Shoot outs are something that none of us are interested in, and respect is not the first word that most people associate with cops nowadays. Some do, but not the people we deal with everyday, that’s for sure.
Still, it’s a respectable job and I love the camaraderie most of all.
While at this point in my life I was hoping to have been retiring as one of the Cardinal greats, the next best thing to me as a kid has become a reality and allowed me to raise my family comfortably.
When I was a kid, I knew I wanted my own kids, and I have three great ones. I had all brothers growing up, so having a daughter, Ace, has been just awesome to me. Cool was my boy, and G$ is the icing on the cake to my perfect life.
Honestly, I’ve been given more than I could have ever hoped for as a little kid, and for that I’m thankful.
This post is part of Finish the Sentence Friday.
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