It’s just not fair
I’m sure you have heard the old saying, “if I had a nickel for every time (insert witty, sometimes arrogant remark here)”! Well, here it comes again.
If I had a nickel for every time someone said how lucky I am to be being able to retire at age 50!
I usually respond with a smile and patronize them with, “if you say so” or even better, ” your’re right, I’m one lucky dog”.
After that, I continue the conversation but fall into my own thoughts at the same time.
Initially my brain jumps right to “idiot” or “moron” or “did they really say that or are they just being an asshole?” This all happens within a matter of seconds.
As I walk away, my own self doubt creeps into the logical side of my brain and wonders.
Am I lucky to retire at such an early age? Do I deserve to retire at an age well before most are allowed to get their gold watch?
These thoughts quickly vanish as I contemplate the absurdity of these questions.
Here are just 4 reasons why cops get to retire “so young”.
You would think that this one would be a no brainer. There are people out there that think they have stressful jobs.
Unless you are a front line combat grunt, air traffic controller or a sky-diving instructor.
Everyone else, please sit down.
“But you don’t know man, I’ve got deadlines and a lot of pressure on me at my job, why do cops retire before I get to?”
And I get that. I really do.
But C’MON man.
I will spare everyone the same ole we face armed felons and don’t know if we are going home at the end of our shift mantra.
It should be blatantly obvious to everyone.
Oh, and I’m quite sure if you screw up, or have a perceived screw up at work, it won’t cause the city you work in to riot or change your industries culture on a global level.
I’m not talking about the Mothershippers (Cops who work at Police Headquarters).
I’m talking about Cops.
The grunts of police work.
It absolutely kills me when citizens ask, and I’m not making this up, if we are open on Sunday’s.
This is why I know that there will always be a fantastically wide disconnect between us and your average Joe.
I have worked days and nights, holidays, birthdays, elections, hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms, and high school football games. I have worked 30 hours without sleep and have come back to work 20 more with only 2 hours of sleep in between.
Oh, and then I go to court on my days off.
3. The uniform
I distinctly remember getting into my car and driving to work in full uniform one day. I had been a detective for several years prior to this day and had decided that I wanted to go back to uniform patrol.
I was beginning to doubt my decision with every passing second during my drive in that morning.
I had forgotten how ridiculously uncomfortable it was wearing a bullet proof vest and 30 pounds of police gear. I remember being sore for a week until my body became used to wearing all of it again.
It is nice to see that police departments are now going to outer vests and suspenders. Hopefully this will alleviate all of the back problems that all of us suffer from over decades of wearing the uniform.
My chiropractor would have to agree with this reason why cops retire early.
4. The exposure to unspeakable suffering
Back in the day (Que the rookie eye roll) when I was a field training instructor, one the first things I would ask my new guy was if they had ever seen a dead body.
Other than their grandma at her funeral, most had not.
There are things in this world that humans are not meant to see.
Bottom line, cops see bad shit.
As mentioned from reason #1, law enforcement is a highly stressful and dangerous occupation. New cops arrive in this profession with an eagerness that is almost unrivaled in any other job.
“I’m going to change the world, one arrest at a time”.
Until they see their first dead baby.
The seduction of becoming a cop and serving the greater good enables the rookie patrolman to overlook the inherent dangers and traumatic scenes that he or she may face or see.
As they become fully immersed in the police culture, the old life they had prior to becoming a police officer begins to fade away.
They are forever changed by the things they experience as a cop.
A couple of days ago, an old photo of me popped up on my Facebook feed from a group I belong to. In the photo I had been a cop for about three years.
Other than looking ridiculously young, I noticed something else.
I had the biggest smile.
And I think this may be the last photo taken of me with a smile this big..