There are very few people who can really say that they have made a difference in their professional lives, but as my Dad retires today, he can proudly say that he did.
While he ends his career as a State Investigator, he spent most of his life as a policeman and a detective. Working in a part of town where most people would be afraid to stop to get gas.
Growing up, it was not uncommon to see my Dad interviewed on the local news about a murder investigation or for him to get a page (ask your parents) in the middle of the night to head out and see something that was no doubt horrible.
While my friend’s fathers came home from a day at the McDonnell Douglas plant or some desk job, my Dad came home for dinner every night and set his handcuffs and gun on the stereo in our living room. Eager to hear about our day and always filled with stories of his own.
While my most exciting work story on any given day probably involves what I had for lunch, my Dad would (and still does) regale people with tales of prostitution stings, standoffs that ended in tear gas, and all out brawls in disco parking lots that wouldn’t look out of place in a Burt Reynolds movie. And all of this seemed very, very normal.
Movies and TV have conditioned us to think that policeman are all dark and brooding, bottling up all of the horrible things they have seen. But if any of these things bothered him, you would have never known it.
Through the course of his career, my Dad put away countless criminals, returned precious items to their rightful owners and brought some sense of closure to grieving families. There is an elderly couple whose daughter was murdered more than 30 years ago with whom he still keeps in touch with and helps to this day.
While my Dad would probably tell you that this was just a job, I would have to disagree. He made a difference in the lives of more people than I will ever know. All the while, he worked to support his family and made sure that they always felt safe, secure and, most importantly, loved.
Congratulations on your retirement Dad. On behalf of everyone whose life you have changed for the better, I say thank you.