Creatures of habit
They say that human beings are mostly creatures of habit. I never really believed in that way of thinking.
I have always prided myself on the old Marine Corps adage of;
Improvise, adapt and overcome.
Meaning, be flexible and most of all, be ready to change at the drop of a dime.
Sounds sexy doesn’t it.
In context it’s absolutely true. But as it pertains to the every day practices and rituals of human beings, we like order.
Have you ever changed a toddlers routine?
Oh, I’m sure some of you, with your P.h.d. in parenting, will comment your sage advice on how to counter this behavior in toddlers. Unless you have written a book (not self-published) or have a successful blog on the topic, nobody cares.
In fact, and this will sting, after doling your advice, the recipient of that advice will not walk away with a new found wisdom or insight.
No, they will walk away hating your soul.
Stop. You know who you are.
Okay, so yes, we never really lose our craving for that homeostatic (c’mon, every now and then I have to throw in a big word so people will take me serious) bliss of routine.
I’m quite confident that everyone who reads this has a few of these and probably several more. With my reputation and honor at stake, I will lift the veil on the intimate parts of my life that will be exposed here for the first time to anyone.
Don’t worry, it’s PG-13.
Although not in uniform patrol currently, this was and has been my pre-work ritual for many years prior to going on duty.
1. The alarm clock – If you are still using an alarm clock for your alarm then you need to go ahead and just admit right here that you are a loser.
Or pay your cell phone bill on time.
For some reason that I can’t explain, I never set my alarm to the hour or half hour.
It’s always set to 45 to 50 minutes after the hour. And I always hit the snooze button once and once only.
2. Coffee – After rising, I make the zombie death walk to the coffee. God help the universe if I forgot to set it the night before. It has to be ready. Meaning, no wait time, just pour.
After drinking almost half a cup, like clockwork, I walk to the microwave and heat it back up for exactly 55 seconds.
For the three people on planet earth who don’t drink coffee and are reading this article, we know that you won’t ever understand the plight of us coffee drinkers.
One of the worst days of my professional career was the day after Hurricane Isabel hit our area.
Complete chaos. I saw a side of humanity that day that I never want to see again.
3. Shower – This is where I get serious. It’s all about time management and efficiency. I usually wait until the last minute before I get to it.
I think this gets me in a mind set for work. Just like work, as in the shower, I have a job to do.
That’s how I treat it.
I use a 2 and 1 body wash for max efficiency and speed. I’m usually in and out in no more than 3 minutes.
Smelling good and looking good.
4. The uniform – The night before, if needed, I will wash a full uniform set. This will also include the under shirt and socks I will be wearing.
All of these items will be washed separately from other clothes.
Not just mine but any other clothes in the house. Call me selfish but it’s just how it goes down (a friend revealed the same ritual a few months back which has been the inspiration for this article).
After drying, the shirt and pants are immediately pulled from the dryer and hung up. Only then will I retrieve the other items from the dryer.
Our current uniform is the wrinkle free type so no real need to iron like we did back in the day.
Lastly, I will place my chevrons, name tag etc. on my shirt.
No medals or ribbons.
Unless I’m ordered or in Class A uniform.
Grunts don’t wear their medals or ribbons in the field.
Neither should cops.
5. The drive to work – This is where the final stages take place. Not unlike a Captain and co-pilot going through their aircraft checks prior to take off, I also go through mine on my drive in.
My wife calls this catastrophic thinking.
I call it a warm-up.
I usually try to envision different scenarios that I place myself in. It could be someone resisting arrest, one of my officers calling for help, or even an active shooter situation.
These scenarios are usually coupled with some high octane music that gets my mind set for the next 12 hours.
So there you have it. My routine in uniform patrol. For obvious reasons, I have omitted some other rituals that I do before work but you get the bulk of it.
What are some of the rituals that you do?
Don’t be shy. We are all in this together. My gut tells me that we are all more alike than we would care to admit….
**I would like to thank my friends over at, Survive the Streets: A Page for Cops, for the idea for this article. The conversation came up a couple of months ago about rituals and I thought it was a good time to write about it.**