Yesterday, I was whining to my wife.  “I just don’t feel right.   I feel like I’m playing in a minor key.”  That’s a musical term saying that my instrument is out-of-tune.   A long-time friend once said, “Getting old ain’t for sissies.”


Boy, is he right.   It seems I’m seeing a doctor for something or the other way too often.   I get one ache fixed and two more pop up.


[NOTE:  Shortly after I started writing this article, I was carted off to the emergency room – and then hospital – where I stayed for a week.  Home now, much better. But, it explains my feelings that day.]


The TO DO list has no end and deadlines are coming much too fast.  I was feeling overwhelmed and considered just crawling back in bed and pulling the covers over my head.


Then, I thought back to things my parents taught me as a youngster  I can hide for a while, but ultimately, I will have to face the day and everything will still be there – and probably along with some new stuff, too.


My attitude is my choice: I can either look up (be positive) or look down (negative).  Ultimately , I will have to live with my choices.


There are days when we lose sight of our attitude: suddenly, we are looking at the “glass” as being half empty – instead of it being half full.






Look at our work life.   Call volumes generally increase at Christmas.  The demands of family events goes up, too.  There are all kinds of holiday events at school which involve parents, as well.


Stores and homes are decorated.  We hear Christmas music on the radio and often in places of business.  The kids are so excited they have trouble sleeping.


Simply said, there are increased demands on our time.


We are watching others get into the holiday spirit while we are working extra shifts and extra jobs in order to pay the bills.






Cops get more of lots of things that we don’t want.  The patrol crew must respond to an onslaught of:


  • Home invasions. Answering a call with upset parents and crying kids who have returned home only to find their house in shambles.  Presents and other valuables are gone.


The kids look at us with hopeful eyes and ask, “Can you get our stuff back?”   Oh, so badly you want to tell them “YES,” but in your heart, you know it would likely not be true.


  • Larceny from a Vehicle. Of course, this is always popular with mankind’s underbelly.  You respond to a shopping center.  The upset driver explains how they had all of their purchases stored in the backseat (i.e. in view).


The gifts they had worked so hard to acquire are now gone.  They moan, “What will we do now, officer?”  You WANT to tell them to take a course in basic common sense as you ask why they were so careless.  But you don’t.  You swallow another painful situation.


  • We’ve been screwed. This one comes in lots of forms.   Citizens report that they have been the victim of identity theft. Someone drained their bank account.  Of course, when you probe, you learn they didn’t take even the simplest steps to protect themslves.  They don’t even have a list of their bank accounts and credit cards. Whew!


We don’t want to forget the folks who donated of a bunch of bucks to a telephone solicitor for some charity.  The citizen learned too late that it was a scam.  Worse still if the phone scumbag was supposedly soliciting funds for the FOP or PBA.  You mutter sh** under your breath.




The spectacle of another man who has completely lost control of himself in pubic is embarrassing and angering – if you’re a guy, too. The list is too long to include here, but a few stand out for me.


  • DUI Arrest. This can blow the ass-end of any shift or result in a butt-load of overtime.   Not good, if you don’t want the overtime.  The list of obnoxious, silly excuses might be funny in other situations.  “Yes, I know the chief too.  You can call him in the morning if you’d like.”


  • Domestic Violence. Being drunk also drains away most of a man’s good senses.   Haven’t the male members of our species learned that it is almost ALWAYS THE MAN who gets his backside carted off to jail?  Guys:  you won’t win.   We are tired of dealing with your stupidity and pissed because it’s the call where we are most likely to get hurt.


  • Disorderly Conduct. This usually means you were being obnoxious and stupid in a public place.   It also generally implies that you have done this previously and/or been warned many times prior to this incident.   In any event, the silver bracelets go on and you go for a ride.


You know, we are human, too.   Arriving at yet another call where the perpetrator is a liquored-up man wears us down.    “Won’t you ever learn? we wonder to ourselves as we are working the call.






Then, there are those calls that hurt your heart.  They hurt when they are happening.  They hurt again when you must write the report or verbally review it with the sergeant.   You feel the ache every time you tell the story again – even if it’s only thinking about it.


  • It’s Christmas day/night. When you hit the station, a dispatcher tells you of being on the phone with a homeless man.  He’s a veteran and just wanted someone to talk with because he is all alone and lonesome.


  • You report with the FD to a structure fire. It’s a residential home, days before Christmas.   You know before arriving on scene what you will probably find:   there will be a family with kids.  It is clear they have been burned out of their home with nowhere to go.  They ask, “Can you help?”  You try to respond appropriately while choking back tears.


  • You find yourself suddenly thrown into a situation with a parent holding an infant who has stopped breathing. You perform CPR and all the other stuff you were taught as you frantically await the arrival of EMS.  When the call is all said and done, the incident is labeled an infant fatality.


There are similarities to these kinds of calls.   You can’t clear right away – even though you’re sitting in your vehicle.  You have a steady stream of tears running down your cheeks.  It’s time for lunch, but you’re not hungry.  You wish so badly that you could bury your face against your wife or Mom and cry your guts out – but you can’t.


Dispatch is on the radio asking if you can take the next call.  You dutifully respond in the affirmative.   And, you must bury this pain before anyone else can witness it.






Imagine that you’re a young cop.  You are single.  You moved far away from home to take this job – because it was the first one available.


You are feeling left out.   You will be spending Christmas alone – unless one of your brothers thinks to invite you to their home.



The homes of your neighbors are decorated for the holiday.  You haven’t even put up a Christmas tree.  And, you probably won’t.  Hell, you’re scheduled to work that day.  What does it matter?


Is your nose down?


Find someone to be with.


Make your own Christmas.  If you’re working that day, make YOUR CHRISTMAS the day before or after the actual holiday.


Buy yourself a present.  Have it gift wrapped.


Share your feelings with a brother.   He likely won’t think LESS of you – he will think MORE because you had the guts to put yourself out there and ask for a hand..


If you’re a regular at the gym, look around for someone who might be in similar circumstances as you and invite them over for Christmas dinner.


Invite a dispatcher, a records clerk or anyone you know.  No one should spend Christmas alone.


Out of options?   Call me.  I’ll be there for you: (386) 763-3000.  I am your brother and I care about you.


Even if you have only ONE HOUR – do it.  Do SOMETHING.


Have your own Christmas.


Your mental health and having a positive mental attitude (PMA) require it.


At the bottom line, this is all about saving just ONE life – it may be yours.









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