Of Red Lights, Sirens, and Old Friends*

I was asked to interview some old-timers recently for a history book of sorts on police cars. At first, I wasn’t certain how I would handle it. Then I found one of my old squad cars was owned by a collector near me. That seemed like a good place to start, so I checked it out.

When I showed up at the showroom/museum, my old squad was sitting right in the middle of the room waiting for me. As I walked up, he hit his lightbar and chirped his siren—the same old Lee.

That’s right. Lee is his name. He is a 1976 Pontiac LeMans and does not look a day over ten years old, much less forty-five. The driver’s door was open, so I sat down and asked him how he was doing.

Being the wisecracker he’d always been, his response was not unexpected. “Well,” he said. “I think I’m doing a lot better than you, given the way you look.”

Hey, Lee. I thought we were friends.

“Friends! What do you mean, friends? You never liked me the whole time we worked together. You were always whining about how much roomier that old Plymouth was and how much faster he was.”

Hey, buddy. I was disappointed when they retired him, and I never held it against you that they downgraded the specs on police cars in the ’70s.

“See! There you go again, calling me downgraded! I did the best I could, and I was a lot faster than those taxi cabs Ford pushed off on police departments under the new standards.”

Yeah! Those Fords were something. I couldn’t chase down VW Bug in one of those things. For what it’s worth, you were a lot better looking than those boxy old Galaxies. Those things were tanks.

But, enough of the old days, let’s talk about what you’ve been doing since the department retired you.

“That’s right! You weren’t around much after you left patrol and got that desk job. In fact, I heard you resigned a few years later.”

Yes, I left the department and law enforcement for a time. But, this story is about you, not me. What happened after we quit working together?

“Well, things were okay for a while. I had a string of rookie partners who almost totaled me a couple of times, but I ended my patrol career in pretty good shape.”

Talking about shape, you do look good for someone closing in on fifty.

“I may look good now, but it wasn’t always that way.”

What do you mean?

“Man, once they took me off of patrol, they transferred me to Code Enforcement. Those guys were strange, and they treated me like I was a garbage truck. When they were through with me, I was worn out and thought certain I was headed to the scrap heap.”

What do you mean?

“Oh, they parked me at the back of the Physical Plant and just left me there. I ended up covered with dirt, and every pigeon in town used me for target practice. I thought I was done.”

What happened?

“One day, a bunch of teenagers showed up with a flatbed truck. They loaded me up and took me over to the high school. I became the shop class project. They fully restored me. I felt like new!”

“Once they were done, they auctioned me off as part of a fundraiser. That’s how I wound up here. I get treated like a celebrity, tool around town in parades, and have a good old time.”

The rest of our time together was just chit-chat, but I walked away feeling good about an old friend. Then, I got a real surprise. The collector let me know he thought it would be nice if I drove Lee in a parade or event sometime. I just had to promise not to say anything about Plymouths around him.


* In case you were wondering this bit of fantasy was written as part of a writing class and is being shared with classmates as well as others. However, as I found in researching the suggested format there are people who write or podcast in this format regularly. Here’s a link to one such offering: Everything is Alive

© oneoldcop – 2021

Posted in Daily Life, Entertainment, Journalism, Law Enforcement, Police, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Of Heroes and Unicorns

How would you respond if someone asked, “Who is your hero?” When the question was posed to me, my first thought was, I don’t have one. Then my analyzer side kicked in, and I wondered why that was the case.

The term hero is thrown around quite easily by many people. They talk about heroes in uniform, heroes in battle, heroes in sports, and heroes in love stories, to name a few. But, what is a hero?

Most would likely agree on the designation of hero for the first responders who rushed into the World Trade Center on 9-11. Likewise, the passengers and crew who forced Flight 93 to crash in Pennsylvania earned the title, as did many at the Pentagon. Yet, those tragedies, like Pearl Harbor, D-Day, Dunkirk, and others throughout history account for only a small percentage of those who might be called heroes in history, in legend, in family journals, and the sports news.

Over the decades, I observed and met “heroes” of one stripe or another. From local heroes to national heroes, I saw the good and the bad that came with the label and the gifts that led to that label. From those who dined with presidents to people who sometimes did not know when they would next eat, I watched them do both good and bad, sometimes being lauded and sometimes being damned.

Yes, that is a problem with heroes. Once they’re labeled, living up to the mantle is difficult, and many fail in time. So, what is a hero? Is it someone who does something heroic once, or does that person need to be super all the time?

Is someone a hero for rescuing a baby from an armed kidnapper? Yet, someone else is only a good samaritan for rushing onto a crowded roadway to save a child from the speeding traffic? What about the cop who tries valiantly to pull the driver from a burning car but only succeeds in scaring himself for life.

The reality seems to be somewhat akin to the title above. Heroes and heroism are both reality and myth. If not myth, at least in the eye of the beholder. Take the only person I can think of as a true hero at the moment.

He was a young man, just twenty-one years old. He never amounted to much as he grew up. He cared little for school, hated rules, and lived as much on the edge as he could in those days and at his age. Trying to avoid being drafted and sent to Vietnam, he earned a GED and enlisted, winding up in Germany.

True to form, he grew bored in Germany and volunteered for Vietnam. Less than a year later, he died in the mud defending his base and those within it from a surprise Viet Cong attack. He received a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, a military funeral, and his name on The Wall in Washington for his efforts.

He did not have to die that night. He could have stayed safely in his bunker, but that was not his way. He took the fight to the enemy and paid the ultimate price. He was a hero to those with whom he served. I know because I’ve spoken to some of them and read the after-action report.

Yes, to them, he was a hero. To me, my little brother. I still wonder what might have happened if he’d played it safe that night.

© oneoldcop – 2021

Posted in family, Family Vaules, Law Enforcement, National Defense, Patriotism, Police, Politics, Uncategorized, Veterans, Vietnam | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Knock on the Door

A knock on the door might seem a strange title in the days of doorbells and motion-activated door cameras. Still, there are times when a knock might be more appropriate, even more attention-getting, than a push of a button or a wave of a hand.

As this is being written, teams should have knocked on the doors of thirteen Blue Star families across the United States. The teams were in dress uniform and delivered a message no one wants to receive. I know that knock. I heard it in February 1969.

When I opened the door, two men in dress greens were standing there. They came to notify my mom that her youngest, my little brother, died in Vietnam. He and thirteen other young soldiers were killed on the same night from an attack on their airfield.

Thankfully, that was the only time I was on the family side of such a knock. Unfortunately, it is not the only time I was involved in such a notification. Luckily, I never had to tell a Blue Star family they were now a Gold Star family. Over the years, when I knocked on a door to deliver the message, the family often had no idea why I was there.

Families with relatives in combat or military situations know there is a risk their loved one will not make it home. Still, the news is hard to hear. A family sitting down for dinner or watching television is not prepared to have someone in uniform show up at their door. They are even less ready to hear that a loved one will never walk through that door again.

I don’t know which job would be worse, being part of the military notification detail or being a street cop obligated to deliver a message. I can promise you for the people opening the door; it is traumatic in either case. Knowing my brother might die in Vietnam did not help our mother one bit. She was devastated. I saw the same devastation and heartbreak in the eyes of those I had to notify over the years.

So, the point of this little bit of prose? The thirteen bodies being returned to the U. S. from Afghanistan are just the beginning. If the terrorists have their way, the body count will rise in Afghanistan and worldwide. Then, more families will be displaying a Gold Star banner, and others will simply mourn the loss of their loved ones.

I am not alone in worrying the body count will rise. Others feel the same way. Accordingly, I have a request. When you hear stories of soldiers and civilians killed in combat, by terrorists, or in horrible car crashes, by all means, pray for the families.

While you’re at it, pray for the person or persons knocking on the family’s door. The looks on the faces of those receiving the bad news takes a toll on the messenger. A toll felt for a long time.


Cemetery image courtesy of Pixabay

© oneoldcop – 2021

Posted in National Defense, Patriotism, Police, Uncategorized, Veterans, Vietnam | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going Home Again…Worth the trip?

You’ve likely heard someone say, “You can’t go home again.” If you haven’t, you can find it in everything from country songs to a book by a famous author. In fact, an internet search found more than 4 million hits in under a second. If that was not enough, Pinterest has 180 pictures, wall-hangings, and what have you related to the phrase.

Preschool*

Of course, the underlying meaning of the thought is things will not be the same. Whether it is our memory of home or changes wrought by time and progress, the place we remember no longer exists. Still, we try, as I did a few months ago. Of course, in my case, there is another consideration, which home?

First Grade

I have a section in a book I am pretending to write titled “Urban Nomads.” That was the way my family lived as I was growing up.

We were nomads without the desert, camels, and tents. We had dogs, whatever car dad had the hots for at the moment, and a long string of rent houses. That is why my attempt to go home again took me someplace other than a house.

Third Grade

Some time ago, I thought of a place my family spent a good deal of time for a few years. It was not our home, but it was a place we enjoyed. Also, at the time, it was somewhat secluded. It was a bit like an extension of our backyard if our yard had been big enough to hold a small lake.

That little bit of heaven to us was named Lake Weatherford. Like most lakes in Texas, it was not formed by natural forces. Rather, someone decided they needed to store some water or avoid seasonal flooding, and one government agency or another built a dam.

Construction on the dam was completed in March 1957. I cannot tell you how long it took to go from a relatively small dammed-up river to a lake, but we showed up not long after it officially opened.

We had some great times there. It was out of the way, and the City of Weatherford was not that big. So, it was not heavily used. There were bigger, deeper lakes closer to where most people lived, and they were the ones with most of the amenities and activity areas. Still, for us, it was a great find.

The water was as clear as a swimming pool. It was so clear and clean; I could swim underwater with my eyes open and see well enough to adjust my waterskis or untangle the rope without ducking my head or lifting the rope out of the water. So, when I decided to visit the lake, I headed there with anticipation and memories.

After my visit, the answer to the title above was clear. Yes, I knew the lake would be different. I researched it not long before and found it had a park, a marina, and homes around it, all of which I expected. Progress happens, and some people love to live on or near the water. Still, it was a bit disappointing.

No, it was more than a bit disappointing. I drove entirely around the lake, looking for a place to stop. I wanted to take a picture or spend a minute gazing at the place where I’d had so much fun all those years ago.  Sadly, lake access for people like me is limited to trespassing, the marina, or Weatherford Lake Park.

That is the only park unless I missed something. It is on the northeast edge of the lake, and it is as far from the dam as they could go and still call it Lake Weatherford Park. It is also about as scenic as the edge of a swamp.

Yes, open water was visible, but mostly the park is on shallow water covered in lily pads and surrounded by trash trees. However, there is a “boardwalk” over the water one can use to get an up-close look at the swampy part.

Later, I discovered the “boardwalk” is something of which Weatherford is very proud. On that day, in my frame of mind, it looked like a bridge over nothing, leading to nowhere.**  

The saddest part of the experience was the water. I should not have been surprised because this is Texas. Many lakes are shallow and fed by water sources that bring dirt and debris every rainy season. The beautiful blue water from my youth only lives on in my memory.

Was it worth it? Yes, to a degree. It was nostalgic to visit a place my family enjoyed so much in the years we were a family instead of a clan divided. It was nice to drive around the twisty little road next to the lake and see the homes and small developments. Living on a lake has always been an unfulfilled dream, and it is nice to see others living their dreams.

Still, as the saying goes, you can’t go home again. Nothing there was the same, and my memories are all I have from those years. What more do any of us have but our memories?

We may have pictures or mementos of past times. We might have stories we can share with others such as this, but what matters is our memories. This little excursion helped me realize how special those memories can be.


*My brother and me, no idea who the young lady was. **To be fair, I have seen pictures of the boardwalk area when it looked much nicer than the day I visited.

© oneoldcop – 2021

Posted in Daily Life, family, Family Vaules, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Free As A Bird

The first known use of the saying, “free as a bird,” was early in the 17th century, not 1967, when the Beatles popularized it in song. Yet, it has likely been one of those little bits of life humans longed for since prehistoric times when they marveled at the feathered creatures bringing beauty to the world.

If the term is new to you and you’ve never marveled at a hummingbird or longed to soar like an eagle, you probably need prayer or medication. Whatever the reality, I was recently reminded there are limitations, drawbacks, and downsides to everything, including the freedom of our feathered friends. Take the cardinals I photographed and shared from our little backyard sanctuary over the last few months.

These two have eaten our birdseed, entertained us, and hidden their nest from me for weeks. I did my best to determine where to see if I could snap some shots of the hatchlings, but this duo was too crafty for me. And then! They showed up with two young ones in tow and never stayed in one place long enough for me to get a family portrait. Still, even when they treated me like some stars treat the paparazzi, I was envious of their freedom and flight.

Then, one afternoon they were cavorting in the back with their spawn, thwarting my efforts to get a picture as usual. It was disappointing and exciting at the same time. The immature ones were chasing around, from feeder to holly, to feeder and tree, having a great time! That is, they were having a great time until a Texas thunderstorm burst onto the scene, and we were all running for cover. Me to my couch to watch a golf tournament and the birds to find someplace to hide from the hail, thunder, and soaking rain. Ah, yes, freedom! Maybe there is a price to pay for freedom.

As if the cardinals had not reminded me strongly enough that freedom has its limits and drawbacks, another of my feathered neighbors got my attention this morning. Several Mississippi Kites and a few hawks are frequenting our world, and one has been showing up regularly across the street.

It sits high on the top of a tree, scouting, and resting before taking off to hunt or just feel the air rushing around its body. On this day, at this time, it was not going anywhere. Another thunderstorm made its way through our little part of Texas, and the little hawk was drenched. As I watched, it regularly opened its wings a bit and spread the feathers. I assume this was an attempt to keep its wings from becoming too soaked and heavy. Whatever the reality, it was apparently not going anywhere until the rain ended.

So, the point to all of this? Well, it’s simple. There is a price for everything. Freedom does not come freely, and in some ways, it may be an illusion. Whatever the reality, be like my little neighbors, enjoy the good times, bear up through the rough times, and soar when you have the chance.

© oneoldcop – 2021

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Lest We Forget: Namesake

Lest We Forget was originally published on May 30, 2011. It was written in honor of my brother, David Jackson, and the men who died with him one night in Vietnam. This piece is a reminder and an update on David’s life, and celebrate the fact his name lives on through a great-nephew he never had the opportunity to know, Jackson David Long.

Spc. 5 David Jackson

Last week, Monday, May 24, 2021, marked fifty-two years and sixty-three days since Spec. 5 David Charles Marshall Jackson and thirteen other souls lay dead or dying in Cu Chi, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam. It was also the day his namesake, graduated from high school.

Jackson is more than a namesake. In many ways, he is much like the great uncle he knows only through stories and memorabilia. Like David, he is adventurous, loves horses, and is a bit of a maverick, though a well-mannered maverick. Also, he is not quite the risk-taker David was, as far as I know at least.

On the other hand, he and his uncle would understand each other when it comes to the ladies. Both captured the heart of a slightly older woman before leaving high school. Where they differ is in goal setting and follow-through. Jackson has a career in mind and soon starts working and training in that field. David, as you will read below had a bit of a problem in school and planning his future.

David and the others who fell on that February day in 1969 were killed when Vietnamese forces overran their camp. The enemy sappers were successful, destroying 12 Chinook helicopters. Details of the firefight are hard to come by, but one source stated Specialist Jackson was actively engaged in the fight when he was felled.

David and his Company

David did not need to die on that dark February night. At least, he did not need to die in Vietnam. He started his military career in Germany. He could have stayed there and completed his enlistment there if he wished. However, David was never one to pass up a good fight, and he grew tired of the spit, polish, and boredom of serving in Europe. After a few months, he volunteered for Vietnam, setting boots on the ground April 9, 1968.

David came by his desire for change and action honestly. His childhood was, to say the least, a little unstable. While some folks live in the same house for most of their childhood, David and I did not have that luxury.

Our mom and dad were urban nomads. We roamed west Tarrant County, Texas like Bedouins in the Sahara. We pulled up stakes and moved every year or two. During the fourteen years David lived in Texas, we lived in Benbrook, Azle (twice), White Settlement (three times), Lake Worth and various locations in west Fort Worth.

It was hard to be bored around the Jackson home. If we were not packing and moving out, we were moving in and unpacking. Between moves, Dad did his best to keep things interesting by changing careers, changing interests and changing dreams like some people change shirts.

The result, in David’s case, was a lack of focus and a need for stimulation. This translated into any number of risky pursuits. David was a horseman, hunter, fighter and serious lady’s man by the time he was sixteen. If he was afraid of anything, he hid it well, and that lack of fear, and common sense, kept him in trouble most of his teenage years.

The beginning of the end for David was our parents’ split in 1964. David went with his father and his future stepmother. They moved to Indiana where David had been born and his father had family. David did not finish high school and settled for a GED. He enlisted in the Army to learn a skill or trade.  A few months later he was in Germany, by April 1968 he was in Vietnam.

Vietnam seemed to be good for David in some ways. He learned that risk taking, and an adrenaline rush are not the only things there are in life. Being David, he had to learn those lessons the hard way. If his letters and messages can be believed, he volunteered for every dangerous assignment that came along, almost paying the ultimate price for his adventures on more than one occasion.

However, his last few messages seemed to show he was growing up. They stressed how he was looking forward to settling down and having a career when he got home.

In February 1969 David was rotated to a base camp that was nominally safer than his normal post. On the night of February 26, 1969, David was twenty-eight days from returning home. He was secure in his base camp. He was miles from the front lines, such as they were in Vietnam. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese the camp was a safe area.

David was a little brother, a loving son and a man whose full potential was never realized.  May he and his comrades in arms continue to rest in peace.

© oneoldcop – 2021

Posted in National Defense, Patriotism, Uncategorized, Vietnam | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

God Help Us; Here come the Feds

During his 1984 campaign for President, Ronald Reagan reportedly made the following statement:

The most terrifying words in the English language are: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.”

That snarky little comment quickly became a running joke. T-shirt vendors, politicians, comedians, and others made hay with it until this very day.

While the comment was made for campaign purposes, there is truth in it. Politicians and bureaucrats seem to have a carpenter mentality. You know, the old saw about seeing every problem as a nail. Sadly, politicians apparently cannot tell the difference between a claw hammer and a sledgehammer. So, they break out the sledgehammer and destroy the thing they are attempting to fix. Take the latest example of the feds coming to our rescue.

April 21, 2021, the current United States Attorney General announced an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. He promised to take action if the investigation found systemic problems within the training, policies, and procedures of MPD. He closed his remarks with this final statement, “Building trust between the community and law enforcement will take time and effort by all of us, but we undertake this task with determination and urgency, knowing that change cannot wait.”

His comments made it clear he believes, as do many others in the current administration, there is a problem with law enforcement. Regrettably, the new Attorney General and the rest of Washington seem to have forgotten one significant point. Either that or they choose to ignore the fact they or their predecessors played major roles in creating the conditions which led to the conflict we are witnessing today!

For the record, I am not saying Law enforcement, in the U. S. or anywhere else, was ever perfect. How could it be? Police officers, agents, deputies, investigators, or whatever a particular member of law enforcement is labeled, are human. Humans are flawed. Whether we are flawed by divine design or have not yet evolved to perfection we are flawed! So, everything we do, try or touch is flawed as well. This is true whether the human involved is the newest rookie in Punkin Junction PD or the occupant of the oval office.

Getting back to the Honorable Merrick Garland, 86th U. S. Attorney General, here is my problem with the ball he started rolling. Starting with the Minneapolis Department, he and Washington intend to carry out the so-called “reimagining of policing.” The truth is policing has been reimagined more than once over the past century or so, and every reimagining eventually led to the next reimagining.

In the early years of the last century, the federal government, with the help of some in academe, decided basic changes were needed to address the way law enforcement operated. It seems the police were too much a part of the community. I mean, after all, how objective and professional could one be walking the same beat in the same neighborhood all the time. Hell, you’d get to know everybody, and they’d get to know you.

All that fraternization could lead to subjective law enforcement, cops looking the other way when certain people did something, and in some cases, cops taking money to cover for or assist in malfeasance. Accordingly, the nation’s leaders decided a more professional police force was needed.

Professionalizing police departments led to putting more cops in cars. That way they could patrol larger areas, and they would not be as likely to fraternize with the locals. Of course, the cars were just one step. Other steps included rotating shifts and moving officers around regularly. That minimized the opportunity for bonding even more. Making cops more “professional” led to alienation and mistrust, which led eventually to another reimagining, community policing.

Suddenly, these standoffish, official-looking men and women were again supposed to establish rapport with the people they policed. Officers were encouraged to move into minority or problem neighborhoods to establish trust and understanding. Cops reached out via rap sessions and youth activities attempting to change the perception of law enforcement.

Of course, the Vietnam war and the hippy movement threw a monkey wrench into all of that rapport building. Still, the police did their best to become more understanding, educated, and “professional.” The results were less than satisfying.

There were demonstrations, riots, and property damage. Name-calling and threats were common. Tensions rose, to new levels of conflict. Between anti-Vietnam protestors, stoners, and the and groups that were forerunners to the groups on the streets today, chaos reigned. Police officers, like today, were not trusted. They were threatened, assaulted, and killed for simply doing their jobs. This led to some of the worst years yet seen in the history of law enforcement mortality. The worst was 1973. That year, more police officers were murdered while doing their jobs than any other year in modern times.

The situation became so bad, even the politicians realized something needed to be done. Getting out the sledgehammer, they funded and promoted changes in training, changes in equipment, and changes in the law. At the same time, police officers realized they were not being protected by their departments. Police unions began to grow and become political influencers. By the mid-1990s, the foundations had been laid for the problems faced today.

In a little more than two generations, law enforcement went from the neighborhood beat officer everyone knew to a tactical officer working the streets and equipped for battle.

The same parts of government now calling for the dramatic changes in policing helped develop, promote and pay for the training and equipment of modern-day law enforcement. The result of those changes makes police officers appear, and feel in some cases, more threatening than helpful.

Of course, AG Garland and his boss will fix that problem in the next 100 days or so. After all, as noted above, “change cannot wait.”

© oneoldcop – 2021

Posted in Civility, Daily Life, Law Enforcement, Leadership, Police, Uncategorized, Vietnam | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rather be Lucky?

Ever have one of those inspirational moments that sets you off on a quest to explore a thought? Maybe something similar to one I had a few mornings ago on the parking lot of a local convenience store.

Walking to my car, the sun was at just the right angle to make a new penny shine as if it were gold. Some might not want to be seen picking up a penny on the parking. I, on the other hand, consider it part of my workout routine. You know, a stretching exercise.

As I reached down for the penny, I realized it was heads-up. Of course, I immediately remember the old saw, “Find a penny, pick it up. All the day long, you’ll have good luck.” Of course, according to some, only pennies that are face up are lucky. Since this one was face up, I wondered if “all the day” included earlier in the day when I bought a lotto ticket. That triggered a whole train of thought that prompting this post.

Hopefully, the title of this piece reminded you of another old saying, “I’d rather be lucky than good.” That phrase can be interpreted in several ways, but you are most likely to hear it voiced by a duffer on the golf course who makes a miraculous shot. The next most likely place may be when someone survives a crisis for which he is totally unprepared.

Sometimes, sheer luck can save the day or make the moment for someone. However, many times, that luck is backed up by some level of skill, even planning. If that were not true, the odds of “luck” on the golf course or in the middle of a crisis would be even longer than the odds of winning the last lotto fortune. Take the picture above, for example.

That picture came to mind when I wondered about the penny being good luck. When I took that picture, my immediate hope was, “Maybe I’ll get lucky.” My little wish was based on the circumstances surrounding the shot.

One of my grandsons was playing baseball. I was attempting to take some decent photographs of him and his teammates and faced several challenges. In this particular instance, He was batting and hit a blooper over second base. I was standing just outside the ballpark fence across from first base. I had a great angle to take a series of pictures as he ran to first.

The problem was as he got closer, there was no time to switch from telephoto to wide-angle. Also, his coaches were partially blocking the shot. I had to raise the camera up to shoot over them, and I was standing on a portable pitching mound that made my footing less than stable.

I expected to have some excellent close-ups of the baseline or maybe the turf, and I did. Also, I had the shot above! Yes, we can get lucky.

It is possible, theoretically at least, for someone who never played a round of golf to hit a hole in one. As we see on television occasionally, it is also possible for someone who doesn’t play basketball to make a basket from midcourt and win a scholarship. Still, in most cases, luck is based on preparation. It is practice and preparation that lead to us getting lucky. Take this picture as an example.

To many people, it doesn’t look like much. Truthfully, it is not what one might call an award-winning photo. Still, coupled with the shots of him running toward the base, glancing at the field to see if someone was quick enough to retrieve the ball and throw it to third, it is the record of his success. Also, that play was important. He was safe on first and scored a few plays later, helping his team win that game and the tournament in which they were playing.

Yes, I was lucky to a degree. I was lucky I managed to keep shooting as I stumbled back. I was lucky I could keep the lens pointed in the right direction. Yet, I was only lucky because I had missed numerous shots in the past because of movement on my part or the subject’s part. I had learned how, roughly at least, to keep the lens pointed toward the subject of the shot.

A sports photographer, wildlife photographer, or grandkid sports photographer will take hundreds, or thousands of pictures in some cases, to get that one good shot. In this case, luck did play a part because it took less than 100 shots during the game to find some keepers, but the odds were against me. For hunters or others familiar with guns, it was a completely offhand snapshot. That’s why I hoped I was lucky.

The truth is, in this case, and any case where it seems luck played a hand, preparation is still a key to increasing your chances of getting lucky.

© oneoldcop – 2020

Posted in Daily Life, family, Sports, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Of Respect and Decorum

Believe it or not, some folks will read the title of this, scratch their head, and think, “Huh?” Their first problem will be the terms themselves. Oh, some may have an idea about respect, if they are old enough to remember the Aretha Franklin song by that name. Decorum on the other hand may leave them cold. After all, what does the way someone fixes up their home or office have to do with respect? *

Okay, that last sentence was a bit snarky and not respectful. Still, with the sad state of public education over the last few decades, it is not hard to imagine young people failing to understand how the terms respect and decorum are related. However, this piece is not about your average Joe or Jane. It is about how people who should know better assume these words are meaningless in today’s world.

For instance, the television commercial inspiring this piece lacked both respect and decorum. On the surface, it was a cute little ad about hearing aids. Slightly below the surface, it was another attempt to normalize comments and language some might find inappropriate or embarrassing. At the same time, it is a statement about the human condition in the 21st century.

The ad in question is a family scene where a young couple is visiting the female’s parents. The couple is sitting several feet apart at the bar separating the kitchen from the living area. Mom is in the background, and dad is sitting in a lounge chair reading the paper.

Suddenly the young woman attempts to ask the young man a question without her parents hearing. She wants to know if he brought condoms. She whispers and mouths the question several times before the dad pipes up, “Condoms, Charlie, she wants to know if you brought condoms.” Charlie could not hear her, but dad, sitting much farther away, could. He had new hearing aids.

While the scene is humorous, it lacks respect for the potential audience. Also, it illustrates the total lack of taste and propriety when the opportunity to make a buck presents itself. It also seems to paint the young woman as an idiot or sex-obsessed bimbo. Why, at that moment, with her parents just feet away, would she question Charlie about condoms in a whisper?

The answer is simple. Anything is fair game in advertising, and advertisers think their target audience is mentally sophomoric. Either that or they are promoting audio voyeurism for a few hundred bucks an ear. Oh, yes! For the record, the decor of the home was quite nice.


*Apparently humans are not the only allegedly intelligent entities having trouble understanding the difference between decor and decorum. The screenshot to the right shows Google Search’s algorithms think decorum includes furnishings and Objet d’art. Okay, it got one right, the little blue square is an example of etiquette, the other three are examples of decor.

© oneoldcop – 2020

Posted in Civility, Daily Life, family, Family Vaules, Manners, Morality, Public Education, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Speaking of Karma?

One of my favorite sayings is, “Free advice is usually worth what you paid for it.” That is one reason I write so often about some of the “free advice” people find on social media or through other means. Regardless of the source, always consider such advice carefully.

In Keep Knocking, I took on a quote about giving up when something appeared too difficult. In other pieces, I’ve commented on the lack of wisdom in the advice one can find on or in any media post, publication, or video. Here, I want to share the quote to the left for a different reason.

Based on my own experiences, there is truth in this bit of advice. I might swap the word wisdom for maturity, but maturity works if it implies wisdom to you.  I see value in this meme for two reasons. I have seen it work, and it seems to fit biblical wisdom. 

There is value in the quote, whether one believes in karma, fate, or a just God.  My personal experience in this area is based on a lesson from my youth.  As a child, I was taught to fear and honor the idea of the God of the Bible.  However, my formal experience with that system was limited to two years in a Baptist church. 

That exposure to the practice of Christianity ended badly.  A conflict between the pastor and my father almost destroyed our small church. The two men who led me to the baptismal turned out to be frauds. For the rest of my childhood and early adulthood, I was angry with God and His followers. I seldom entered a church for any reason other than a wedding or a funeral.

Still, some of what I learned of God and Jesus remained in my subconscious. One principle I internalized led to my beliefs echoed above. From a biblical standpoint, it can be summarized in the term “let go, and let God.” While the verses often quoted to support letting go in this sense can be confusing, the idea is simple.

Take my experience as an example. During three decades in law enforcement, I had many opportunities to feel wronged by others. I also had chances to get payback if I wanted. For the record, I am not talking about retaliation toward some person in the community. I am speaking of other police officers. Personal, professional, and political disputes within the workplace are common, and cops are no different than anyone else when it comes to such disputes. 

Luckily, I learned rather quickly, such conflict did not benefit anyone. So, I learned to let go and let God or fate deal with the issue. Doing so accomplished two things. It took the pressure off of me, as I did not need to take any action to right the wrong.

Also, it helped my colleagues and friends understand they did not need to defend me or mistreat the other officer. Yes, sometimes a jerk gloated for a while or felt untouchable, but even some of them realized they were acting badly.

The icing on the cake was they often paid for their wrongdoing in one way or another. Whether it was karma, fate, or God, many of those who treated others poorly, in whatever fashion, eventually got their comeuppance. Hopefully, they learned something from the situation. If they didn’t, my hands were clean, and so was my conscience. Keep that in mind the next time you feel the need to get even.

© oneoldcop – 2020

Posted in Christianity, Civility, Daily Life, Ethics, Manners, Morality, Police | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments