“So Chess, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
I remember a friend of mine asking me this many years ago when I was finishing up my final year of junior hockey. My answer was pretty simple: “Well, I’ll play hockey as long as I can, then I’ll head back to the ranch.”
If I would have been told that in 20 years I would graduate from University and become a police officer, I would have thought for sure somebody was BS’ing me.
Rewinding to my University days, I had the opportunity to live in both the Anglican and Lutheran Seminary Residences on campus. With that came the chance to become good friends with many of the men and women who were called to the Church. I distinctly remember a conversation one fall day as I was sitting outside visiting with my friend, Noah, who was attending the Anglican seminary.
Noah was not your typical seminarian. He stood about 5’9”, 250 lbs and although he was the son of an Anglican Reverend, he was an accomplished rugby player, an amateur bull rider and a cattle auctioneer, among many other things.
We spent a lot of time talking about life, but on this particular day the topic of finding your “calling” came up. I asked him how he knew that he was supposed to be a Reverend and he replied, “I just did.” He went on to say that along with an unseen push to head in the direction of the church, there was the want to spread the good word, light the path for those who’ve lost their way, and more than anything, try to help those in need.
Now, if you asked most police officers why they chose said profession, I think most of the answers would consist of: “I want to help people”; “I want to give back to my community”; “I want to leave the world in better shape than it is now.” I would imagine recruiting has heard many different variations, but I don’t think many of the answers would stray from wanting to give back and help those who need it.
A few months ago, a friend of mine came out to walk the beat with me one evening. I met Pastor Richard many years ago while we had a class together at the U of S.
The beat that evening was not different than most nights as we spoke with many of the regulars in the downtown area.
Many of my friends along the beat are dealing with addictions and mental health issues. Once you get to know some of them, you realize that most have had pretty hard lives. I could tell Pastor Richard was very much at home as we chatted and laughed with my regulars.
A few hours into the evening, we were dispatched to a call at a seniors’ residence to check on a call from an elderly woman who was convinced that strange people were breaking into her apartment. She also stated that a gal off the evening news was constantly watching her and it was quite upsetting.
On arrival, I could tell quite quickly that she suffered from some form of dementia. This was confirmed as I spoke with a special care aid worker who attended to the residence shortly after our arrival.
We spent nearly half an hour listening to our complainant. I could see that as we chatted, she began to figure out who we were and started becoming calmer.
At one point she told us that she was happy we came and figured that she could manage from now on. She added that we should “get back out on the street and keep the city safe.”
I told her that if she has any other problems to call us again and we could stop by for another visit. She assured me if she needed us, she would call.
As the evening wrapped up and I walked my friend back to the station, he shook my hand and thanked me for the night. He then commented on how our two professions, a police officer and a pastor, are similar in nature and that dealing with people is as rewarding as it is challenging, at times.
As we said our goodbyes and were about to walk away, he stopped and smiled and said to me, “Derek, I’m so glad you found your calling.”
I was quite taken aback by this compliment. As I walked the rest of the evening, I thought that it takes special people to work in professions where you’re relied upon to help others, whether it is healthcare, the church or policing.
I believe we all try to help those in need and we all try to leave the world in a little better shape than we found it.
I guess it is not what job we do, but the work we do that really matters.