It was no secret growing up what my father did for a living. Obvious to all if they drove past my house at 10:15am, 12:30pm and 2:00pm when my dad came home for his breaks. There was no mistaking the red and blue light bar across the top of his navy blue and white emblemed, caged and handleless backseated police car. My father was a cop.
As a child, life wasn’t all peaches and cream. The stress of my father’s job needed an outlet for release, and he found his reprieve in booze and his Playboy-themed Barbie-like common law wife. He was a good man with a big heart, but he was able to separate emotion from fact with ease when necessary. A great skill to have as a police officer when personal bias can be the difference between life and death. My dad got caught up in the heroics of being such a great family provider and the need to unwind in the little time he have himself away from the job, he forgot to be a great family man and husband. The older we got, the more distant he was and the more of a stranger he became. My father is, still, to this day a functioning alcoholic.
Being a police officer is so much harder than civilians could ever imagine. The news media is a biased portrayal carefully constructed to evoke a strong reaction, therefore continuing to boost atings and line pockets. Sure, there are certainly bad cops out there. And teachers, and lawyers, and businessmen, and customer service agents, and even doctors, too. It takes a very special person to do the kind of job which is public servantry and it isn’t an easy process to screen for. Especially when humans have the ability to change in nature in the matter of an instant.
You can never know someone’s true colors completely, never know what is working, or not, inside their mind in the short amount of time a police department has to evaluate potential candidates. You never know when mental illness is going to crop up after the initial hiring phase of psychological testing. Unless they screen each officer before the start of every shift, one can never prevent the rare bad apple from rearing its ugly face from time to time. Those bad apples shouldn’t define the entire orchard as rotten, though. Bad seeds aren’t contagious, after all. Just a glitch in DNA.
Though I could never take on the job of police officer myself….if my own life had allowed me the option, I hold my dad on a pedestal for doing just that. It takes a level of strength and courage to get up and face the unknown spewing from the depths of hell every passing day without going insane or succumbing to the weight of the responsibility. My father’s own life isn’t worth to him as much as the lives are of the innocent, naive, unassuming citizens he dedicated and sacrificed his entire life to protecting.
Three wives, two distant adult children, alcoholism, PTSD, chronic pain, estranged family members, and lost chances for family memories are the price he has paid for serving and protecting his neighbors, their families, and their businesses selflessly for thirty-seven years. And counting…. because though he had to retire from the force, he stayed on as a court officer. He couldn’t stop serving and protecting, even after all his time doing so already. It’s in his blood, just like all the other genuinely good police officers out there today.
My father is my hero, regardless of how failed our relationship is. I hope the next time you feel the need to jump on the cop-hating band wagon you remember this piece right here. They are only human. They are somebody’s father or mother. They are facing evil’s you could never dream about in your worst nightmares. They are unsung heroes in uniform trying to live to see another day. And one bad seed doesn’t sour an entire orchard.
Day 4 prompt: When you were a kid did you want the same job as your parent or a different one?
By: Kristina Hammer, aka, The Angrivated Mom