He Comes Home Weary
Whether it’s 9pm, midnight, or 5am— he comes home weary.
He is mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted from having to be flawless every moment of every day at work.
Every moment he is there he must be on high alert, ready for anything.
Every moment he is there he is being watched, scrutinized, his every action is observed and judged and criticized.
He literally has a camera and microphone attached to himself at all times to record anything he does so that he can be held accountable later if anything goes amiss.
He has been built for this type of work— he is psychologically and physically wired to be able to endure this level of stress, chaos, mystery and danger— and remain focused for hours on end like this.
Yet it is wearying.
In no other job is any human expected to be put in real-life life-and-death situations, with all the adrenaline and confusion and all the ever-evolving information coming at a person— every day for years on end— and still be expected to respond with absolute perfection.
He has experienced more high stress, terrifying brushes with death in one week than I have ever faced in my entire life. In one typical week of work he has had more adrenaline pumping through his system— alerting his fight or flight network— than I will likely have to face in the next decade.
And he does this day in, day out, week in, week out, year in, year out.
Every morning, he rises and has a cup of coffee, eats egg whites mixed with greens, a piece of toast, and settles himself down into the well-worn spot on the couch next to his Bible and journal.
Every morning, he jokes around with the kids, wrestles any willing participants, tells his daughters how beautiful, strong and smart they are, tells his son how handsome and strong and smart he is, kisses and compliments his wife, and then grabs his lunch box and gear bag, and heads towards the door.
He and his wife always hug one last time before he walks out the door to start up his car.
He unlocks the front gate, opens it wide, climbs in his vehicle, and pulls out, putting his car in park just outside of the gate.
As he climbs back out of his car to close and lock the gate behind him, he always looks up to the front porch to see if any of his family members are still standing there. If they are, he waves good bye and again tells them he loves them.
Then he climbs back in the drivers seat, shuts the door, prays for his family’s safety and his own, and drives away.
Another day at work.
Another day to respond to the calls for help from folks who don’t know how to handle their circumstances on their own.
Another day to go confront the scary, the perverse, the corrupt, and the broken of the world.
Another day to face all manner of society: the intoxicated couple who were just beating on each other so loudly that their neighbor called 911 in fear for someone’s life; the robbery team that broke into an elderly woman’s home, breaking her face in the process; the crime scene where there are blood splatters all over the walls because a mom attempted to take the life of her own child; the angry man whose drug of choice has endowed him with superhuman strength and an inability to feel pain; the kid who just shot another kid in a rival gang, leaving his young blood to spill all over the pavement near their high school; the girl who finally drummed up the courage to tell her mom about what her stepdad has been doing to her while mom is at work; the baby that needed CPR; the unkempt, blundering crackhead tripping all over himself outside the liquor store, frightening the young family who stopped by for some slushies; the suicidal teen who has been missing for several hours…
This is who he sees all day every day at work.
These are the members of society he interacts with on a daily basis.
It is his job to be in contact with all of this brokenness, all of this mess, all of the problems no one else wants to deal with every single day.
He uses up all his energy every day listening to people’s backstories, investigating leads on unsolved cases, roaming the streets looking for individuals who fit the description of the ones inciting terror in the 911 callers, physically dealing with the constant influx of adrenaline dumping into his system several times a day; showing respect to even the disrespectful, being kind even to the suspicious and the spiteful…
He doesn’t often get many healthy, loving, affirming interactions during a normal work day.
His sphere of influence is more often the broken, the abused, the abuser, the lonely, the addicted, the malicious.
When he hears gunfire, he runs towards it and offers his help.
When he hears that a suspicious character is loitering about, terrifying schoolchildren or old ladies in their homes, he walks right up to the individual and strikes up a conversation.
When he hears of a man waving a gun around a grocery store parking lot, threatening to kill anyone he sees, this courageous officer in blue goes there to try to figure out how he can help rectify or diffuse the situation.
And then… after ten or twelve or twenty straight hours of all that… assuming he reacted perfectly to all of the above and assuming no one got to their gun quicker than him and assuming there were no auto accidents or broken bones during any of the day’s activities… he comes home.
And yeah: he is weary.
And also? He is immensely relieved to once again see his dog happily wagging his tail in greeting as he pulls in through the gate, hear the sounds of his children’s giggles as he walks through the front door, feel the warm embrace of his curvy, soft skinned wife, and smell the sweet scent of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen.
He takes a deep breath, puts down his gear bag, grabs a warm, crispy cookie, and settles down into his spot on the couch.
“This is what I fight for,” he tells himself.
[This is Day 7 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. This year my focus is on the role of STORY in our lives. Click here to get to the landing page with links to each post for this series.]
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What about you?
What do you know about the lifestyle of one of your heroes? Can you please share a story of an interaction you have had with him or her?
Please share your story in the comment section below.