Years ago, in a kind of hero worship fog, I asked my brilliant father just how he decided to become a police officer. At the time he was a Police Lieutenant well loved and respected by everybody. Well he said, “It was the depression you know, and I had heard there was going to be a civil service test coming up, so I went down to city hall and took the test. I had a young family and needed a steady job and working for the government seemed like a good idea.”
He had at the time worked on construction of the Cleveland Shoreway and at American Shipbuilding and been laid off occasionally.
” But I never intended to be a police officer, I went in to take the fireman’s exam, and went in the wrong door, and took the policemans’ exam, but I did well enough on that exam that they offered me a Police Officer’s job. And for that pay and those benefits, I became a Police Officer and it’s worked out just fine.”
So what he taught me by telling me this story is that it doesn’t matter what job you end up with in this life, it’s YOUR job to make the job fit you. If ever there was a right guy for the role of rules enforcer, he was it. I can just imagine him telling some young kid, ” in the wrong place at the wrong time” to get lost, and If he ever saw him again he’d have to assume he wanted to be there trouble and all.
Dad was a born leader of men, he loved the guys he worked with and always backed his men 100 percent. And they adored him for it. He took a lot of guff backing his men and never made Captain because of doing the right thing. He also was transferred at the drop of a hat every time he aggravated the current Politicians because he would back his men and force the administration to take responsibility.
Hell, he was the ONLY officer on the original Police Picket line at Cleveland City Hall when those guys were trying to get fair wages, he even organized the roster to make sure there would be coverage at the front doors to city hall at all times. Knowing Dad, he probably waved merrily to those politicians as they walked up those steps. He believed deeply in doing the right thing. Always, and nothing was more right than good work , well done, a job to be proud of.
He was amazing, at stepping up and doing the right thing. One time he went to a fellow police officer’s burial where there weren’t enough pall bearers, it wasn’t the first time so he started the “Funeral Detail”, with a few other Union guys and eventually it became paid for by being included in union contracts but originally he saw the need and saw to it that at least in Cleveland, Policemen always had enough pallbearers. Such was my father, a man’s man. And he never said a word about any of this. He just stepped up and did it. I didn’t know until after he died and the stories started coming from fellow officers just how loved he was and why, just that kind of guy. He didn’t judge, he just loved people and backed them up and made them laugh at life troubles and did all he could to make the next guys way easier. Amazing soul.
He knew a few things ; The important ones…He knew he was married to the love of his life, he knew he was happy, And in KNOWING those two things, the rest of his life was wonderful, he made it so by BEING so.
And that was his magnificent plan, be happy.