Something happened to me on January 1st. Something that I never saw coming. It was like when you are running through the woods and turn around to look at something. When you look back to the front there is a branch right there. Too close to be able to do anything, You can’t stop so you make the exaggerated motion that suggests you were just hit in the face with a bat. You never saw the branch coming, but there it was.
On January 1st I entered my 20th year of being a cop. While I knew it was coming, it was abstract. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it so I ignored it. I ignored it until I saw the new vacation sheet posted and I had 30 days. That was my branch. Only the old guys get 30 days of vacation. I guess I am having so much trouble with it because I don’t FEEL like I have been doing this for 20 years. I still make more stops than most guys. I still look for dope. I still shake hands and take people to jail. Now, where my age does show is in my common sense. I no longer get too excited about the little stuff.
I am past the point where all the “old” guys were when I got hired. I remember looking at those guys and thinking “Man, that’ll never be me.” Guess what? It is. I don’t age well. On my 30th birthday I was in a very dark place for days. My wife can attest to that. 40 wasn’t too bad. 50 is going to be a complete meltdown. I already see it coming. I guess I hate getting older because every year forces me to face my own mortality. Granted, knock on wood, it’s 40 or more years away but still.
I can retire in 6 years if I wanted to. 6 years. 6 years. I think that if I say it more it will seem real to me, but it never does. I can’t wrap my mind around it right now. Maybe in another 10 years I’ll look at it differently. Time has a funny way of doing that to you. I remember in the mid 90s going to a club in Cleveland called “The Basement.” I would be in that bar 5 days a week, dancing until 2:30 every morning. I remember actually telling myself that I couldn’t ever see me not wanting to do this forever. Well, as life would have it, I did not in fact keep doing it forever. I don’t remember the last night I was there, and that’s sad to me. I wonder if I won’t remember the last night being a cop was fun. The last night that I couldn’t imagine not doing this forever.
I hope I can remember that night forever. I truly love my job. I’m not sure I have ever had more fun, outside raising my kids, in my whole life. I am on the backside of this crazy ride though, and I know it. I look at these young guys we’re hiring and I am a little jealous. A small part of me wishes I was starting out again.
“Ah! the clock is slow; it is later than you think.” - Robert W. Service