It's funny how things work out. It really is. I was working my real job last week and had an almost life-changing-profound-moment. It was a ten minute conversation with a stranger I doubt I'll ever forget. It solidified so many things for me. I meet and converse with strangers everyday I'm at work. It's easy to approach me, I'm in a uniform and being a cop is a hot topic right now. But I approached this lady. And I'll never forget her.
Some backstory before I go on. (sorry in advance if any of this gets political, that is the last place I want to take this blog) I had never heard of a Gold Star Family until the democratic nominee brought one out during the convention this summer. To be honest, had the news not attached to the story, and how the republican nominee for president reacted, I don't know if I would have ever known what being a Gold Star Family meant. I try to stay informed. I read the USA Today either on my phone or when I'm working at a gas station. I DVR 60 Minutes. I watch Bill Maher, John Oliver, and Bill O'Reilly pretty regularly. I really do try and stay educated about current events. And, I really stride to be open minded. I like to think I agree with some conservative view points, and some liberal ones.
I work hard at making an informed decision based on evidence. And I always try to listen to a an opposing viewpoint with an open mind.
Secondly, for the last year I've been approached more in uniform by strangers wanting to say, "thank you for your service." Now, this is a good thing. But to be honest, I don't like it. I don't like it because while I appreciate a stranger coming up to me to thank me for being a cop, I wish they didn't have to. Its like a constant reminder that our country is so divisive right now. And that scares the crap out of me. I've been a uniformed cop for coming up on twenty years. In those twenty years I've experienced a lot of things. I guess it kind of makes me sad that now, when so many people of this amazing country are divided, people feel the need to thank me.
People never really thanked me before like they do now and that scares me because I get worried that we are going backwards, not forwards.
Lastly, my self-confidence is pretty high right now. Christina, the amazing brunette that I can't seem to spend enough time with, has boosted my self-confidence in a way that only a person who really cares about the other can. I hope I've done the same with her.
I don't know if I would have done what I did last week if I wasn't feeling so good about who I was, and I owe that to Christina.
My typical night at work consists of what I call the breakfast of champions. A pack of crackers, a candy bar, and a diet Coke. I know, I'm going to live long into my fifties.
I've been having that as my breakfast for so long it's one of my bad habits. Either way, at the start of my shift you can find me at a gas station, with my crackers and candy, reading the USA Today, and sipping on my diet Coke.
The other night I pulled up to the gas station for my, 'breakfast of champions' and saw an old round Hispanic lady walking back to her car which looked like it was falling apart. The paint was peeling off the roof, the bumper was hanging low, and there were plenty of dents all over the sad red car. Then I noticed her tag. It was a Gold Star Family Georgia State Tag. I didn't hesitate one bit and walked toward her. I stopped her before she sat down.
This was completely out of character for me. I just told you all why I don't like being singled out and thanked, but I was almost jogging to this women I didn't know. I assumed her son had been killed and I felt a need to tell her that I noticed her. That I wished she hadn't had to give up a child to get the tag on her beat up car. That I supported her.
It all happened so fast. I think it happened before I knew what I was doing.
And then we were talking. And we talked and talked. Her daughter was killed in action not her son, and she told me all about her. She spoke with a heavy accent, and while I figured she had immigrated to the US, I never got a chance to ask her. She told me all about her daughter, how she was killed, and how much she appreciated me stopping to talk with her. We talked about being a police officer today, and she asked how hard that was for me. We talked about how the country seems to be so divided on cops right now. We talked about how much she missed her daughter. We talked about she supports cops.
And then we hugged and she cried.
I wanted to cry, but I didn't.
I'll cry later because I wont ever forget the ten minutes I spent with the immigrant who was struggling to pay for her gas, with the Gold Star License Plate, because she lost her daughter, who hugged me with purpose because I am a cop.
She made me proud to be an American.
It was a pretty amazing hug.