Friday, February 20, 2009

Vignettes of Ones Life

Today I went for my morning walk. Although the stiff 17-28 mph winds were causing temperatures to hover around 22 degrees, I forged ahead against the bite of Winter. I have found that most times during my walks, I can daydream in such a way as to have my body in an almost semiconscious state. I would be walking along deep in thought and my body will seem like it is on auto pilot. Step by step, over curbs and rounding the corners. My body would move along on it's own while my mind was entrenched in thoughts of days gone by. As long as my semi-conscious self could feel the firmness of the concrete sidewalk below my feet, my body knew that all was going as it should. I find it very easy to lose myself in a vignette or chapter of my life. There are good things and bad things in each vignette or chapter. Some vignettes are more vibrant than others just as some chapters are longer than others. But when you piece them all together, like a jagged 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, then end up forming the totality of ones life.
This mornings walk was one which took me back to a place in time that I usually don't visit much. 2 years shy of 3 decades ago, I worked at a mid west university as a Police Officer and as a Detective/Investigator. Due to my job, an awful lot of things occurred while I was there. There are some thoughts that stand out more than others for me....for a multitude of reasons. I would like to share just a few with you. Part of my job functions were to provide site and/or personal security to visiting "dignitaries". This particular function provided me with an opportunity to meet people from the fields of entertainment, politics and a few higher up military personal. They would visit the university for various reasons. Here are just a few that I had the opportunity to meet... Madame Jehan Sadat...the late Anwar Sadats wife, Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, Don Johnson..actor, Roy Clark of Hee Haw and country western entertainment fame and then there was Bob Hope..who I would think that most folks have heard of. I actually got to sit down and dine with the late Mr. Hope. I should clarify that last sentence. I actually did sit down next to Mr. Hope while he was having dinner. I was supposed to be eating with him but as my luck would have it, I had a bit of the flu bug accompanied by a high temperature. This was at the end of a long day of personal security with Mr. Hope and I ended up having to be replaced due to the flu bug that I had. These security details all occurred after I was promoted from Police Officer to a Detective/Investigator position.
There was one event that stands out more than any other during the time that I spent at this University. It is not one that I think of very often but on today's walk, it re-entered my thoughts. This event occurred shortly after I joined the Police force at this University. It was night and I was on patrol. A call came out from our dispatcher that there was a student with a handgun that was suicidal.
This student was supposed to be walking in an area around one of the ponds that were on campus. I parked my patrol vehicle just down the hill from the residence hall, where this student lived. I walked around in the dark looking for this young male student. Eventually I saw his shadow as he was sitting near a small foot bridge that ran along the banks of one of these small ponds. I slowly approached this young man and asked him if he was ******. The young man stated that he was ******. I could see that he was visibly upset and shaking. I could also see that he was armed with a semi automatic pistol. I later learned that he took this pistol from a location where his grandfather had hid it. Without giving it any thought, I walked up to this young man, kneeled down next to him so that we were on the same eye to eye level, spoke very calmly to him about why he was feeling the way he was and I eventually talked him into handing over the gun to me. This whole encounter lasted about 10-15 minutes but seemed to linger a lot longer than that. After him handing over the gun to me, I handed it carefully to my Sergeant who was standing back a little ways while I was talking to this student. As it turned out, the gun was "locked and loaded", with a bullet in the chamber. For some reason I did not give it a second thought, about walking up directly to this young man while he was holding a weapon. I guess that was pretty foolish but I just went on instincts that nothing bad was going to happen and that this young man just wanted to talk. I sat with this young man for a period of time and then brought him back to headquarters. I don't remember what this young man was distraught over and we ended up calling his parents, who drove a ways to pick him up. I never heard anything more about this young man but i did receive a nice letter from his parents thanking me for what I did. I know that this young man has grown up and is out there somewhere. I would like to think that he got help for whatever issues he had and is now living a good life...maybe with a family of his own. This is one of the few times in my life, that I have truly felt that I had a positive impact on an individuals life. It is not pride that I feel, when I think about this situation and how it ended, but more a feeling of fulfillment and a warmth inside. I could go to my grave today knowing that this one time, I had a major impact on someones life and it was a positive impact. After thinking about it, I guess what I really hope for, is that this young man got whatever help he needed and turned his life around and then did something that had a positive impact on someone else's life. To me, that would be a beautiful ending to this story and the only ending needed. And now its time for this vignette to slowly fade to darkness.
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