As 2014 came to a close, I mentioned in a post I would introduce you to my family. I said I was going to open the doors of MCPD and welcome you inside.
I’m going to take it a step further.
I’m inviting you into the locker room at the PD.
That escalated quickly, didn’t it?
Relax. I’m going to show you two lockers. See if you can use your highly attuned detective skills to tell the difference between them.
Well done, junior detective! The left is plastered with photos. Specifically, photos of my family. The right is blank. It could be a locker in any PD, any school, or any gym in the world. It doesn’t appear special.
So, what makes mine special? Mine is special because of the people who adorn it. When I get changed at the beginning of my shift as well as at the end, I am greeted with the smiling, loving faces of those I care about the most.
These photos are a constant reminder to me about WHY I go to work every day and WHY I will make good officer safety decisions throughout my work day. When I’m walking up to contact someone on a traffic stop, I’m not thinking about my kids. I’m not thinking about the Wife. I’m thinking about the job in front of me.
When I’m riding code 3 (lights and sirens), I’m not thinking about our upcoming weekend or dinner plans. I’m focused on the task at hand. I’m taking deep breaths and doing my damnedest to break the tunnel vision.
See, I don’t have to have my family at the forefront of my mind during my day. Because I see them before I see anyone else. I tell them I love them and I know they love me, too. I can feel their support from afar, which allows me to keep my wits about me and my focus sharp.
I should mention that the right photo of the blank locker is the norm, rather than the exception. What I mean is there are probably only 10% of the lockers at the PD with photos on them. That’s not to say the interior is not festooned from top to bottom with photos, I just can’t see them from the outside. My hope is that all of them are plastered with family photos. I mean of their respective families…it’d be creepy to open one up and see my family smiling back at me.
I showed you the picture above for two reasons.
First, I wanted to make good on my promise to introduce you to my family. This is one way to accomplish that goal.
Second, regardless of your line of work, I would encourage you keep reminders of your family in a conspicuous place. Don’t have kids? Not married?
You can use photos of friends or other family. You can keep memorabilia from important times in your life or that represent goals you still want to achieve.
The purpose is simply this: When the trials of your chosen career path prove nigh on inexorable, keeping a simple reminder close at hand to bolster you up and give you the fortitude to carry on becomes all the more important.