|Sermon from the bottom of Mount “Woe is me”|
|Written by Gary DeLaganes|
At some point in everyone’s life an inevitable truth becomes a reality. In my case, it was the recent realization that I have celebrated most of my birthdays, and probably don’t have all that many left to come. The many years I’ve spent doing athletic activities and police work have taken a toll on my body – my lower back is racked with arthritis and it takes me at least two hours every morning to reach the point where I can stand up straight; my rotator cuff is shot; two knee operations, and the subsequent arthritis, has made running an impossibility; and a torn Achilles tendon has further limited my mobility.
On the other hand, now having gained the knowledge and maturity that age ultimately brings, I can become more accepting of the inevitable and become comfortable in my own skin and finally see clearly what my priorities in life ought to be. As I reach the finish line in my own career, I can reflect on all of the mistakes that I’ve made and pass on a few hard-learned lessons about the exasperating but rewarding life as a police officer.
I’m calling them, “Gary’s Ten Commandments.” There’s really 11, but who’s counting?
• Keep friends outside of police work. You need a different perspective on life from time to time that other cops can’t provide.
• Compartmentalize your life. When your shift is over, turn off the switch and go home. Don’t dwell on the insanity or the frustration. Just leave it.
• We make a fair and generous salary. Don’t put yourself in a financial position where OT rules your life. You don’t really need a boat, or a $70,000 car, especially when there’s little time to enjoy the toys because you’re always at work earning the scratch to pay for them. Live within your means.
• Put your loved ones ahead of the job. Never think that putting some a—hole in jail is more important then getting to your kid’s soccer game. It’s not, and you can always arrest the bad guy, but each of the kid’s games is a one-time opportunity. Don’t squander those special times.
• Liquor is only a temporary solution. When you wake up the next morning the problems are the same and all you have gained is a hangover. That’s if you’re lucky. If you’re not lucky, you wake up alone in an empty house.
• Don’t become a lifetime member of the “I’m getting screwed” club. Some cops turn into miserable human beings who hate everyone and everything. Don’t fall into that trap. It’s the glass-is-half-full thing. The glass really is half full. Appreciate that.
• Never lose your sense of humor. It is the greatest asset a police officer has. Stand back and enjoy the show. A few laughs now will quickly turn into a lifetime of chuckles and fond remembrances.
• Don’t become obsessed with promotion. Some of the best, brightest, and most satisfied cops I have ever known never took a promotional exam. They just did not want to put themselves, or their families, through the insanity of it all. They also loved the job, loved the streets, and were really good at what they did.
• Never take your family for granted. In the end, they are the only ones who really care about you. When you are on your deathbed they will be the ones you will be answering to, not some idiot sergeant who pissed you off.
• Stay happy, stay positive, exercise, and every day take a deep breath of fresh air and give thanks for what you have. We have chosen one of the few professions that allow us to truly make a difference, but it is a job that can also destroy you if you let it. Remember, the goal at the end of the day is to go home, live another 30 years, and die in your sleep.
All the rest is just a dream.