A young woman working in one of the clothing boutiques helped me as I went about spending some of my hard earned pay cheque.
While I selected items, checked price tags and assessed quality, the young woman and I chatted about how she liked her job. Then she caught me off guard by asking what I did for a living.
If I’m in unfamiliar surroundings or speaking to someone I don’t know, I’ll simply say I work for ‘The City’. This response is sufficient most of the time, as the question often seems to be asked out of social nicety rather than true interest. If pressed, I’m usually able to supply some vague description of a job encompassing data entry and public order. I’m proud of what I do for a living (and I’ll talk your ear off if given the chance) but there are many times when I simply don’t have the time to answer the deluge of questions in response my answer of law enforcement.
But this time, the young woman was truly interested and I had some time, so I answered her.
“I’m a police officer,” I said.
“Really?” she asked, with genuine surprise. “But you’re so nice!”
Yes, I was caught off guard – again.
Most of the officers I know are ‘nice’ and some are downright outstanding people, so it surprises me (even though it shouldn’t) when non-law-enforcement people comment how friendly certain officers are.
That said, I’ll let you in on a little secret – most police officers are like everyone else.
We have families and loved ones. We work hard, make sacrifices and make mistakes. We raise children, go to work, go to school, belong to sports clubs and enjoy our social lives. We experience happiness, love, pain, anger, fear and jealousy.
We are like you.
Yes, there are differences, but it’s not as simple as saying our jobs are different as it’s clearly more complicated than that. At the root of it – we are you, and you are us. We have the same fears, the same passions and the same drive.
We may focus on different priorities, but one opinion and way of life does not make it more or less important than the other.