Thank you, Stranger

Yesterday was difficult. It is my assumption that unless you have been attempting to conquer Mt. Everest, you are aware of OPD’s tragedy. I won’t belabor the point here. I may post about the funerals later. I may not. I get the feeling those men want us to move on. We have paid our respects. Get back to work. And so I shall.

That is not to say I haven’t cried today. Because I have. It won’t be the last time. After an emotional week, I find myself easily moved to tears. I’ve been to two funerals this week, including the OPD funeral, including being under the weather. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m only trying to impart my emotional status and how one simple gesture from a complete stranger restored some Faith.

And here it is…

I’m working a 12 hr OT shift today. It’s one day after the OPD funeral. At about 1000 hrs or so, the Wife brought the Kid by to say hi. We went to our local caffeine slinger (aka The Bux). We stood in line and I held the Kid. The Kid is cute. She always gets comments. If I’m holding her, it usually elicits an “ooh” or an “ahh”. Everyone loves to see a cop hold a little kid, right? Today, I noticed much less of that than usual. I didn’t really know the reason behind it.

I looked down and saw two different local papers. Emblazoned upon the front page in full color were four flag covered coffins with bold headlines. I typically give off a pretty good “leave me alone” vibe and it can be dialed up or down when the uniform is on. Today, though, I was feeling pretty numb and wrecked from the week. I figured folks were taking my ‘aura’, if you will, in conjunction with yesterday’s funeral and giving me a little space. On the other hand, I thought it a little odd at the lack of empathetic looks, nods, thumbs up, keep your chin up-type motions….but I’m with the Wife and Kid, so who cares. Something to consider later on.

I was standing on the passenger side of the Wife’s car, getting ready to strap the Kid in. The Wife was on the driver’s side. A woman I’ve never met (to the best of my knowledge) was walking across the parking lot towards me. I figured she had a question. I put on my Helpful Cop face (yes, I have one) and said, “Hi there.”

The woman stopped, extended her hand, and said, “I just want to say thank you.” As I instinctively reached out to take what she was holding out to me, I saw what is universally recognized as a Cop’s best friend, a Bux gift card. I am not usually one lacking for words. She turned to walk away and I think I stammered out, “Thank you, ma’am. I very much appreciate this. Thank you so much.” I’ve no clue if she heard me. I pray she did.

I turned to the Wife and said, “That lady just gave me this and said thank you.” The Wife gave me her very best proud smile and just nodded. I remembered I was in uniform and in public right before I lost my mind and cried right there in the parking lot.

Later in the day, I went back to the PD to check the balance on the card so I would know how much additional money I would need to treat my co-workers to java. I couldn’t believe my eyes when a balance of $25 appeared on my computer screen. Believe me when I tell you I didn’t think for a second it would be more than $5. After all, that is way more than enough to say thank you. To be fair, merely walking up to me and extending her sympathies and letting me know she appreciates our time/efforts in her community is more than enough. Comments like that have been keeping me and my brothers and sisters going all week long.

Her generosity and heartfelt “Thank You” did more for me than I can express with the written word. I still feel sadness. I still feel for the families. Knowing that this woman is out there, be it specifically her or someone just like here, reminds me of why people like me do the job we do.

So, thank you, Ma’am. I very much appreciate it.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

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9 thoughts on “Thank you, Stranger

  1. You begin to think that everyone dislikes until they actually need one. Well, this story proves otherwise…what a nice gesture. Good I think also that with you and the little one, they see that cops are normal human beings too, just like everyone else.

  2. Officer, I don't live in your state and will probably never meet you. I don't have family in LE and am not myself LE. But I appreciate that you're out there, doing what you do.

    There are far more of "us" out there than there are of "them." Just by the nature of your job, you meet far more of "them." But they're still outnumbered, even on the days when you can't see it personally for yourself.

  3. I believe the vast majority supports law enforcement officers but, unfortunately, that majority too often is silent.

    Because my father was a policeman, I often wave at police officers passing by in their car if I'm walking or running on the sidewalk. More often than not, they seem surprised at a pleasant greeting. I think that's sad, because their reaction suggests they usually see indifference or contempt.

    In your darkest hour, please always remember that we, the anonymous general public passing by, thank you for your service. You are always there for us, and we are eternally grateful for that.

  4. I was going to say something along the lines of what anony and Elle said but they said it better and first. So there you go.

  5. What a nice touch!
    Hopefully one day you will bump into her (if you recognised her again) and when things arent so raw, you can let her know how much that meant.

    Its always the little things that make the difference.

  6. How cool is that?!! I think this woman was an angel – absolutely! If there is a cop in *$'s when I am there – I pay. No question. When they say, "you don't have to do that" I respond with "yea, I do. My kid's a MC and he takes care of his Town. If he were here, I'd be paying. You reap the benefit. Stay safe & play nice with the other kids." They chuckle, always say thanks and tell me that my kid is a lucky guy. Damn straight!

  7. Events like this made me proud to work in law enforcement.

    There are some people that actually respect the police still.

    Big hugs. We are all still going through a lot. I was on vacation during the Funeral. My PD caravan-ed up there. I would have gone if I had known.

  8. I know that sometimes it seems like so little to just say "Thank You." I understand her sentiments. That she turned to leave – her job was done and I have no doubt that made her day a little brighter too. A nice story.

  9. Wow. I got referred to this site from the MSN article. I have been reading from the beginning. I was going to wait until catching up to current to make any sort of comment, but I just thought you should know that this entry made me tear up. Wow.