A chat with some protesters…

Hi protesters, it’s me, Don.

Do you remember me?

No?

I’m a police officer.

We’ve met before.

Excuse me? Did you say Ferguson?

No no no, not there. I’ve only been there a couple of times, but never in riot gear.

You, the lady with the black shirt on. I remember you from what I think was your house, or maybe that was your grandma’s house.

Do you remember that time your 23 year old sister swallowed a good deal of toilet cleaner because she was distraught at being pregnant again?

Gosh, I remember it like it was yesterday.

That’s right, I was there with that young, black officer.

He is handsome, you’re right.

Yes, that was me that knelt down on your dirty, roach infested bathroom floor and turned your sister onto her side to keep her from choking to death on her own vomit.

That’s right, I stroked her cheek and rubbed her arm to comfort her while we waited for the ambulance to come.

When she finally came to, she was in no mood to go to the hospital, was she? Wooo, she was pissed.

You asked me to make her go to the hospital, and I was going to anyway since she tried to kill herself, but people are funny about being forced to go to the hospital against their will.

Your mother was understandably upset, but that handsome young officer and I, along with some firemen and you were able to sweet talk her into going without having to fight her into the ambulance.

That’s always a win for us.

Yes, you thanked me that night and I appreciated that.

You don’t know it, but I stopped by your house again a few weeks ago to see how everyone was doing, but you weren’t home. I happened to be on your street, so I thought I’d check in. I like to follow up on my calls sometimes.

Maybe I’lll catch you next time

Hey, you there with the dread locks. Yeah, you, the big guy! Do you remember me?

Don’t be embarrassed, it’s a funny story.

Remember when I saw you sprinting across Baden Street and then down the sidewalk?

You had the look on your face of a man who’d just seen a ghost!

When you saw my car, you flagged me down and tried to jump in my back seat.

Sorry about locking the doors, but there are a lot of people out there who’d hurt a police officer, so I have to be extra careful when people come running frantically at me like you were. Plus, you’re a big dude.

I got out of the car and held your gym bag for you so you could catch your breath. You pointed while you tried to say something about whatever it was you were running from.

Remember, I asked if you were hurt or being robbed or shot at because these are the sorts of things that happen on Baden Street. You shook your head no and pointed towards an alley at the suspect.

“Whoah!” I believe was my exact response.

What I could only guess was the result of a pit bull mating with a Clydsedale horse sauntered out of the alley right towards us, so I did finally let you get into my car.

I was going to join you, but you remember that little girl?

Right, that cute little girl about my daughter’s age. I remember that she was walking right towards the dog. Remember the dog lost interest in us when she saw that little girl? The dog turned and was going right for that little girl, who I had assumed couldn’t see the dog because she was on a hill.

Oh good Lord, I thought. I’m going to have to shoot that dog, if it gets near that girl.

I sure didn’t want to, because I’ve never shot an animal before.

We drove the patrol car past the beast and into a driveway to cut the girl off.

When I rolled down my window to warn her about the dog and tell her to get into the car, she pert near peed her pants laughing at us.

“That’s my Baby,” she said.

“Your baby?” I said.

“Her name is baby. She’s my dog and I’m so sorry she got out of the yard.”

That wonderfully mannered little girl then walked right around our car and gave Baby a big hug while telling her what a naughty dog she’d been.

We were both embarrassed because that dog/horse thing couldn’t have been any sweeter with that girl.

“She could ride that thing home,” I said as we both watched her walk alongside the dog into a nearby yard.

You laughed and laughed and called me stupit, but not in a mean way.

We shook hands and you thanked me. I appreciated that.

That was a pretty funny ending. Much better than what could have happened.

“Hey, I remember you too, Officer Don.”

Hmmm, I’m sorry but your face doesn’t look familiar.

Wait a minute, I know you now. I didn’t see your three boys there behind you.

Wow, the boys are looking good.

Last time I saw them was that time you were all huddled on a bench in the cold. I remember driving up and asking you if you needed any help and you said you didn’t.

Well, your words said you didn’t, but your face said otherwise. Your face and the faces of those handsome boys.

I asked if you were sure and you said yes, so I let it be.

I drove into an adjoining parking lot and waited for my next call. I parked just close enough that you could call to me, if you changed your mind, but you never did.

Your older son finally did walk over though and asked me if I had any baseball cards.

Holy crap, I thought.

It’d been a long time since I’ve been asked that.

Remember when we used to get Cardinal baseball cards with safety messages printed on them? They would be a mess all over the police stations, but the kids loved them. I don’t think we give them out anymore, but man that took me back thinking about all the cards I’ve handed out over the years.

Anyway, I told your son I didn’t and he said, “Thank you, sorry to bother you, sir.”

Wow, I love a kid with manners.

“How old are you, son?” I asked.

“Fifteen, sir.”

“What are you guys doing on this bench? It’s pretty cold outside”

“Momma’s boyfriend kicked us out. We’re waiting for my grandad to pick us up.”

“Do you want to sit in my car and warm up with your brothers for a minute?” I asked him.

I remember he nervously looked to you and you told him to stop bothering that man.

“He’s no bother,” I shouted to you. “He wants to see the inside of the police car. Are you okay with that? They can come too.”

You smiled because you knew those boys wanted out of that cold.

“You’re welcome too.”

You declined, so the boys and I sat in the car for a few minutes while I showed them all the bells and whistles. I was happy that you trusted me enough to let your boys in the car. A lot of people don’t.

I forget what’s mundane to me is still fascinating to others, especially kids. It was fun watching them goof around and ask questions about what everything does.

As usual though, I got a call on the radio and had to go.

Before they got out, the youngest one mentioned that his stomach hurt.

When I asked if he was okay, the oldest one said he was probably just hungry since they hadn’t eaten in a couple of days.

“WHAT???”

“Please don’t arrest my mom!” The middle one said suddenly.

Ugh, I remember that one stung my heart. I hate that he thought that’s our answer to such a situation.

I gave the fifteen year old all that I had, which was a $20 bill. It’s not a lot when you have three growing boys to feed, but that’s not chump change to me either, and I assure you that I only give money to people I deem worthy of my charity.

I remember your kids were good kids and it was a pleasure to part with what I would have probably just spent on beer anyway.

I told them boys to make sure you spent it on food.

You had what?

Hardees?

I’m glad. Oh stop, you thanked me enough that night, and I appreciated it.

I have many more memories of so many of you men and women, and so do all the other officers you’ll see during your protest and beyond this mess as well.

Please remember the good times as well as the bad.

None of us are perfect and I won’t deny that some terrible things happen at the hands of some police officers.

Some.

I hope you’ll remember also that most of us struggle as you do too.

We’re just regular men and women when we’re not working in your communities.

Our communities.

We coach your kids and go to your churches and eat at the same restaurants.

We pass each other in the gas station all the time, on and off duty.

Please don’t destroy our gas stations or churches or restaurants. That won’t accomplish anything.

If you talk to me, I’ll listen to you.

I don’t know how to fix all the problems of all the people in a crowd this size, but I know police officers aren’t really what everybody is upset about.

Some of you are, sure, but I suspect that most of the people are upset about more than how the police behave.

We know we have some bad apples, but that’s not really what’s getting to most of you, is it?

It has to be the lack of job opportunities or unequal educational opportunities or the decades of violence in your neighborhoods that have finally caused you to say enough is enough.

Hey man, I couldn’t agree more.

Enough is enough.

Michael Brown’s death isn’t the cause of all your anger, it’s just the straw that broke the camel’s back, I think.

Let’s put this camel back together with each other’s help.

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96 Responses to A chat with some protesters…

  1. Remembering, laughing, tearing, and thinking here, Don. Thanks for disrupting (in a positive way) my early afternoon. You are a genuinely warm and caring messenger. Wishing you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving holiday.

  2. A.J. Goode says:

    Don, I’ve been thinking about you so much lately with Ferguson back in the news. Please, be safe.

  3. Mental Mama says:

    You’re a good guy, Don. Keep fighting the good fight. *hugs*

  4. mamamlk says:

    Love this! What a great post!!!

  5. Maggie O'C says:

    Oh, boy you probably need to get ready for another FP. Yer the best.

  6. Maggie O'C says:

    Reblogged this on Dear Judy…Letters to Tanzania and commented:
    Dear Judy,
    Did you follow Don like I told you to? He is so good and he makes me laugh and cry. This is yet another one of his pitch perfect blog posts. I was going to write “Pitch Perfect Posts” but that seemed like a bit much.
    love you! mags

  7. mistyslaws says:

    Well there you go again. Making me tear up with you crazy heartfelt sincerity. Don’t mess with the pregnant lady’s emotions, Don!! You are good people, and I know that those you’ve helped will always see that. But, there is a reason they call it mob mentality. Sometimes, it’s not about the individual, but about the group and their anger. Be careful, Don.

  8. I love this. Please, let good prevail on all fronts. Be safe.

  9. Mike says:

    Incredible read as always Don and here’s to hoping peace is on the forefront when the decision is announced to the public. Great story with the little girl and Baby. Be safe always…

  10. momsasaurus says:

    Stop it Don! You’re making me cry! Seriously, though, I tip my hat to you. This world needs more officers like you, more people like you. I might just start calling you Scout or Atticus, because you remind me of those two awesome characters in To Kill A Mockingbird. Thanks for being you.

  11. Michelle says:

    it’s very nice to get this perspective. It’s so easy to paint all law enforcement with the same tarnished brush and that’s unfair. Keep doing what you do…it really REALLY matters.

  12. Wow Don. Just wow. If I could, I’d buy you a beer right now. Even, a Bud Light Lime. Stay classy.

  13. qwertygirl says:

    Awesome, Don. I too think about you a lot these days! Just never when I drink a BLL. But that’s because, I’m happy to say, I don’t drink BLLs. But other times.

  14. Jude says:

    Don, I enjoy your posts. I only wish the protesters could read this, or the residents of Ferguson, or Sharpton and his rable rousers. Bless you for the job you and all the officers everywhere perform daily. BTW, tears through the whole post!

  15. Aw, man, you made me cry. This is absolutely lovely. Ugh, more crying. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. NotAPunkRocker says:

    I’ve said it before but I will again. Don’t ever change, Don. We need more people like you in the world. The fact that you are in the position you are in is just that much more special.

  17. KODonnell says:

    Great post. I don’t have anything to add, other than that. Oh, and I wish I read your blog more. Which I think I will.

  18. barbtaub says:

    Reblogged this on Barb Taub and commented:
    I know, Don. And you know. There are so many screwed up things in this world, just as there are good people trying to put them back together. Those people are our hope, and you’re one of them. Thank you.

  19. Some day I’m gonna buy you a Bud Light Lime, Don.

  20. Aw, Don. Now you’ve gone and spoiled the “Inappropriate Don” image that I hate to love. Sniff. Good job – we need a lot more like you!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful perspective, Don, I’m right there with you reading this. The story hasn’t made news here this time…we’re too busy fawning over world leaders after the G20 summit, but I appreciate how things must be. Love your work, mate x

  22. Elyse says:

    Yup. Let’s build up not tear down. Beautifully said, Don. We should paper our cities with copies of this moving post.

  23. I don’t know why I’m anonymous…mine was the blah, blah, good stuff, G20 comment…K?

    • Ha, I thought you were an anonymous dad blogger in Australia for a minute there, plus you didn’t use any words like pedantic or alacrity, so I didn’t recognize you. Lol. Hope you’re well. I need to come read your blog as I miss you now. Lol. For real.

  24. Christina says:

    I’ve met the bad apples and I’ve met the good ones. I can tell you the sweetness from the good ones are the ones I remember, not the bitterness of the bad ones. You, Don, are a good one.

  25. Paul says:

    Truly inspirational Don. Really makes me look at police officers as members of the community. Thank You for your excellent work Don.

  26. markbialczak says:

    When you decide you have something to say to the people you serve out there Don, dang. You have something to say to the world. Thanks for being this kind of police officer. And the kind of regular guy who can drink a Bud Lite Lime and dink around with his kids and trade crap with us regular idjits out here in WPLand as well. Hopefully the demonstrators will see the humanity, and the world will see that the two can go hand in hand. Good to read you, mister DOAT. Sir.

  27. Melanie says:

    Everyone has stories, and most of them involve other people. Great storytelling, Don.
    Be safe. There’s a lot of anger out there.

  28. Damn you, Don — I’m gettin’ all teary-eyed over here!
    Beautiful post, ya big galoot!

  29. Perfectly stated. Bravo, Don! ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Excellent! You’ve poignantly written the script for what this world so desperately needs: a time to think and act responsibly. People want more than anything, respect. How can they feel all warm and cozy with a handout? What they really desire is a responsible place in society, a decency that all of humankind deserves.

  31. REDdog says:

    Always with the perspective and inspiration, Don…thanks man.

  32. sassypanties says:

    Oh, for Chrissakes. You made me cry, you ass! Love you, mean it.

  33. Joshua Arras says:

    Great Post Don…see you at Thanksgiving. Be safe out there!

  34. vickilesage says:

    You make me proud to be from St. Louis. Stay safe!

  35. Shelley says:

    I love that you keep on truckin’. You do make a difference!

  36. lrconsiderer says:

    What they all said. You just made me feel all warm and glowy inside. Towards you ๐Ÿ™‚ This is brilliant and I’m so GLAD that your community has you looking after them. You do a great job.

    (Did those kids get their basketball?)

  37. Cassandra says:

    Amazing post. Keep up the good work.

  38. kc says:

    Perfectly written!!!! I can’t believe you made me laugh and get teary eyed in one post. You are good people Don, good people.

  39. Kristi Campbell - findingninee says:

    Love you. Mwah.

  40. Scott says:

    Stay safe, Don, and keep up the good work. If only more cops had your heart…

  41. Julie Burton says:

    I turned the news on for once and saw the protesters in Ferguson yesterday. Thought of you…
    I love your police stories. They’re the best.

  42. julie says:

    You know what Don? I don’t think I could possibly add to anything that hasn’t been hit in the previous comments, all of which I completely agree. You’re Aces Don! I really enjoy reading your stories and your perspective. I find it all so very interesting!

  43. flemily says:

    Could you please just write a book already?! I love your writing, your stories, and most of all, your class…thanks for keeping it real for all of us.

  44. Wow! My hope is that each of us cared this much and helped when we could and listened and acted with compassion and mercy when it was needed! This world has enough ick. Thanks for a bright moment in some dark times!

  45. jgroeber says:

    I’m sorry you had to write this. I was just commenting on TalesFromtheMotherland as she lamented about her daughter’s safety in Jerusalem. And I was talking about the difference between “hard” questions and “big” questions. (Don’t go juvenile teenage boy on me here, stick with this.) My husband borrowed this concept from Northwestern University and I grabbed it from him. Anyway, the hard question here is about police and history and race and poverty and fear and who did what when and it’s sort of impossible to suss out. And the big questions are about basic human rights all around. Those seem easier, or at least easier to discuss. I mention this hear because I think you always go back to the big questions, which is what makes your writing so pertinent and beautiful. People deserve a fair shake, a safe place, respect. Thank you for always reframing it as a big question.
    That is all. (Stay safe. And as we say in my house, persist and be kind.)

  46. I wondered when we might hear a little about this from you. Now, I have every reason to know that the police are pretty much the every-man too; they’re my neighbours, friends, even an ex-boyfriend or two, but ended on good terms. Still couldn’t help tearing up, yet again, while reading your words. Honestly, I wouldn’t have expected anything else from you, but God knows I needed this one to be reminded of what I know because recently two Elders of my community had been treated quite horrifically by a couple of our local finest. It gutted me to see their pictures.
    Your post sort of did the same thing, but in a much better way. As your readers have been saying, stay safe, Don…. and, I hope you never lose that instinct for decency.

  47. Don, your stories are so wonderful and heartwrenching and heartwarming at the same time. Your perspective is unique and fascinating. Thank you for being one of the good guys.

  48. Cheryl says:

    I’ve been missing you here lately. Wonderful post. ‘Nuff said.

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