Thursday, March 18, 2010
Thanks Dad, and Happy Birthday!
What can I say about Dads,
They can be some of the most influential people in our lives. My Dad is the typical "old school" Dad, you know the type who supported the family working long hours. Dad always had something to impart upon me and believe it or not, a lot of it has stayed with me throughout the years.
My Dad is a 20+ year Navy Veteran. He enlisted near the end of the Korean War and retired as a Chief Warrant Officer at the end of the Vietnam War. I used to really enjoy the times he'd take me aboard whatever ship he was stationed on. I think it was those times that got me hooked and wanting to join the Navy as a youngster.
I tried the college thing for a while. It just didn't work. I did have a great grade point average considering my class schedule was something like this, English, jogging, architectural rendering, tennis, architectural graphics, swimming and racquetball. Pretty tough schedule huh.
Needless to say the class schedule didn't go over too well with Dad. Seeing that I was spinning my wheels I decided to follow in Dad's footsteps and enlisted in the US Navy. I worked my way up through the enlisted ranks and attained the rank of E-6 in 7 years.
I spent four and a half years of hell on a small gator freighter as an independent duty machinist. My son was born while I was stationed on that ship. Shortly after his birth I was deployed to the Western Pacific for 6 months. Seeing my infant son in his mother's arms as the ship pulled away from the pier was a heart breaker.
I decided then (with three years left in my second enlistment) that I was going to get out of the Navy and not watch my son grow up through pictures. It really wasn't a hard decision when the time came. Already half way to a retirement I weighed my decision and called my parents while they were on vacation. It was the hardest thing I've had to tell my Dad, especially since he was a "lifer".
Although my decision to get out of the Navy was not a popular one with Dad, he made no objection when I told him I wanted to get into Law Enforcement. I knew he was concerned about the inherent dangers of the profession but he never said anything to deter me.
My Dad always liked listening to some of the stories of calls for service handled and reached the same conclusions.... "some people really are that stupid aren't they."
The years went by, different assignments came and went. Then came the time when an announcement for 2 full time and 2 alternate motor officer positions became available for my department's anticipated motor unit. I had just been involved in a fender bender in one of our patrol cars and received the appropriate corrective counseling.
Thinking that I really didn't have a chance due to the recent faux pas in the patrol car, I wrote out a memo in crayon, writing in my left hand for one of the positions. By the time I had finished, it looked like a 1st grader had written it. Much to my surprise I was selected to be an alternate motor officer. I felt like I had just won the lottery. I've been wanting to be a motor cop since "Chips" was on t.v. Living up to the motor creed of R.A.L.B. (ridin' around looking bitchin'")
Well I just had to share this great news with Dad. I was surprised when Dad's response was pretty sour. He asked if I was crazy and why in the hell would I want to be a motor officer for. I told him it looked like a lot of fun.
Of course Dad pointed out that his friend, a retired motor sergeant from a local agency in the same county I work in told him it's the most dangerous day to day police job there is. I guess this Sergeant told my Dad about all of the horror stories about motor cops.
Dad never complained when I became a US Navy pilot rescue swimmer, never complained when I spent my last tour as a US Navy Shipboard Firefighting Instructor, never complained when I got into law enforcement.....
I had to point out to Dad that he was the one who bought me my first motorcycle at 8 years old and taught me how to ride it which caused my first brush with the law riding it on a public street (and getting caught by the pole-leece). Because of him I had this two-wheel bug in me. That kind of quieted him down (somewhat), but he still wasn't happy about my decision to attend a police motor academy.
I told him my gene for adventure had to come from somewhere.
So here I've been doing enforcement riding for 5 to 6 years now. I love what I do and consider myself to be the luckiest man in the world living my childhood dream. I know that there are very very few of us who can claim to be living the dream. Dad, I like to think that I'm a safe rider because of the early start you gave me on motorcycles.
So Dad, thank you for supporting my decisions even though I knew you felt at times that I was making the wrong ones. And as they say in the world of motor cops, I'll keep my head on a swivel, keeping the shiny side up and the rubber side down.
Happy Birthday Dad.