“I think the lesson learned in some cases, is there is no lesson learned except the reminder of how dangerous the job is.”
SAPD Chief William McManus.
When I roll out of bed (usually around noon), the most pressing concern in my head is what am I going to have for lunch. Tacos? A corn dog? Ah, Hell. Maybe I should go with a salad? I need to lose a few pounds. Conversely, when the show is over and I’m heading home, my biggest concern is what am I going to drink on the patio, beer or wine? It’s a little warm today, might go with the beer. Do I have enough smokes?
A good day for me is when I get off the air at 7 feeling pretty cool about the gig. A bad day is when I think the show sucked, or I wasn’t funny or clever enough. The second thing happens more often than the first.
Beyond that, my worries and concerns are mostly a load of existential bullshit. Is anyone going to care about my poems after I’m gone? Is my daughter going to hate me when she’s 40? Am I having a midlife crisis or am I just an asshole? What did that weird dream about the clowns and the giant cockroach mean? That kind of stuff.
One thing I don’t worry about is not coming home.
Every day and every shift and during every interaction with the public, the men and women of Law Enforcement do have to worry about not coming home. Maybe ‘worry’ isn’t the right word. Perhaps it’s more of a ‘knowing,’ a quiet reality at the back of the head as they are pinning on the badge and holstering their weapon, that today, for whatever mean or meaningless reasons, could be the day they don’t come home. Today could be the last time they kiss their spouse or see their kid waving to them as they drive away. And yet drive away they do, into harm’s way, into a world of criminals and crazies who, in these edgy times, are sometimes hard to distinguish from the non-criminals and the non-crazies. It can happen at any time, in seconds. Walking up to a stopped car with a brake light out. Having a cup of coffee with your partner in the cruiser with the window down. Approaching a couple of guys you want to talk to about some car break-ins. And then it happens. The worst day ever. End of watch. Bagpipes. Silent, shocked children. Weeping wives and husbands.
So why do they do it? Why do they go out and put their own bodies between the worst of us and the most innocent? Jesus, why would anyone do it?
I don’t know. I’m not that good of a person.
Maybe it’s a belief in law and order. Maybe it’s the idea that good people need to be protected from bad and violent people. Maybe it’s a sense of fairness, or justice, or perhaps it’s something as simple as wanting to make it a safer world for one’s own kids and family and neighborhood. Again, I don’t know. My existential bullshit rarely gets that lofty. I am not a brave man.
Whatever their individual reasons for joining the force, the men and women of Law Enforcement put their lives up for grabs everyday they go to work, and they do it despite being mocked, insulted, hated, targeted, cursed, and spat upon. This requires more than just a level of courage I will never possess, but also something else that is becoming increasingly rare in these fast, thankless times.
It requires character.
And that makes me ashamed of the silly crap I fret over. It makes me want to be a better husband, father, and friend. It makes me want to be a better person. Maybe today, I will be.
I am proud and honored to say that my wife’s brother, A.J., is a police officer. He is one of the best people I know. Like Officers Moreno and Cavazos, and all the other brave folks who wear the blue, A.J. understands what it’s like to go to work not knowing if he’s coming home that night.
Upon hearing about the shootings yesterday, A.J. posted some words that I’d like to share with you. This is a bit of perspective the rest of us need to carry with us into the long holiday weekend, knowing that as we celebrate our nation’s independence with BBQ and river parties, the people of Law Enforcement are working round the clock on double-shifts to protect us. We also need to remember that for the family, friends, and colleagues of Officer Miguel Moreno, July Fourth will never be the same again.
“I can’t help but wonder a few hours ago what they were thinking……what are they gonna do for dinner? What they had planned for tonight? Was one going home to their family or both? Did one have plans to go to the movies or BBQ this weekend? Did they say goodbye to loved ones? Was one or both avid SPURS fans? Were they talking about how hot it’s been today? This job truly is a calling because no sane person would willingly go to get ready for work, putting on a uniform people hate. Putting on body armor and a gun at their hip…..thinking way back in their mind that they ain’t coming home ever again. And so out the house door they go, on the way to work, hoping it’s not them that is called to make the ultimate sacrifice this shift and live another day. God bless those who serve their community.”
Officer A. J. Arriaga.
Yes, indeed. God bless.
Please support The 100 Club of San Antonio by clicking on the link below: