As my regulars know, I am getting ready to start my new career in just a few short weeks. Counting training time, I’ve been involved in the field of law enforcement for just a smidgen over two years, actively working in the field for just about a year on a part-time basis. Finally, I’ve been given the nod for a full-time position with the agency that has trained me, trusted me, and given me a second chance when made the mistake of shooting my mouth off.
For the first time in my adult life, I’m on a career path. At 30 (fine, 31) that might seem a bit odd for a family man, but my professional life has been dictated by necessity, poor timing, and luck- both good and bad. I started out with a degree in education right out of college with the plan of teaching high school social studies.
I landed a job at my old high school fixing computers waiting for one of their teachers to retire, figuring that with my being an alumni and already working in-house, I’d be a shoe-in for the job. Then the superintendent hired someone on the sly, before I even knew the job would be open. The handwriting was on the wall, I wasn’t going to teach there- and that was my only solid lead. I ended up leaving the school. They terminated my position just before my first son was born. I was offered an IT job with a company that was kind enough to take me in, teach me on the fly, and trust me with access to some very sensitive information and expensive equipment. (And consequently re-hire me two years later for the day job I’m at now.)I spent four years there, but knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do forever….and by then I’d decided that teaching wasn’t for me either.
When I was laid off from them in 2012, (as we were pregnant with the second son) I had no clue where I was going or what I was doing. Teaching was out, and I had no formal IT training. I was turned down for numerous IT jobs because of my lack of paper credentials, in spite of nearly seven years field experience. I ended up working phone tech support with a company nearly a two hour drive from home thanks to a college friend- but the job wasn’t sustaining. Four hours of commuting every day on top of 8-10 hour shifts was murder, I had to get out.
Thus, I entered law enforcement on a suggestion from a very good friend of mine- who also happens to be a damn good cop. I trust his judgement completely, and if he thought I could do it, that meant volumes to me. I took him up on his suggestion. Skip forward two years to today.
For literally the first time ever, I’m sure of what I want to do, ‘what I want to be when I grow up.’ Trouble is, I’ve gone down other career paths which ended in catastrophe, and I’m terrified of making a mistake that leads me to the same end.
Also for the first time since The Narrator was born, I’ll be making a living wage. Enough to pay our bills, buy our food, and claw our way out of the holes I’ve managed to dig us into financially with the changed and lost jobs. Screwing this up now would be so demoralizing and debilitating, I don’t know what I would do.
One should be going into a new career thinking “I’m gonna do the best I can do and be great at it.” With my history, and so much riding on it, my attitude is “Don’t fuck up, don’t fuck up, don’t fuck up…..”
I’m terribly happy to have been given a crack at this job, I’m also proud to have made it into a field as difficult to get into as this. The two years of training and practice has been hell. There were days in the academy where I went home in physical pain- and not just sore from PT. Actual physical pain from getting beaten up in Defensive Tactics training. (Ask me about ‘Red Man’ someday.) There were nights were sleep was measured in short bursts as I transcribed notes and studied for exams. Field training was no better- shifts full of ‘learn this or you’re dead meat’ and ‘doing this wrong can get you killed.’
Two years of stress and learning and pain….and now I’m on the verge of getting what I’ve wanted so badly ever since the night at a fire meeting where my buddy stood- in uniform and convinced me I should go ‘on the job.’
The kicker is, that if I was one of the twenty-somethings that I went through the academy with, this wouldn’t be my mindset now. I’d probably be going into it with exactly the same level of cavalier confidence that I went into education or IT. I’m older now though. I’ve failed a few things in my time. I have a family that’s counting on me, (Not to mention a landlord that’s been INCREDIBLY patient with me) I’m out of time to ‘figure it out’ and I’m out of chances. My only direction from here has got to be forward and upward.
I’m about to start the best job in the world with people I love counting on me, and people I work with and trust expecting the best from me. I have a father-in-law that I love dearly who is a 30 year veteran of police work too, who has helped me and mentored me every step of the way, and I don’t want to let HIM down either…essentially, a fall from this height could kill me.
So, while I’m looking forward to my first day with a real full-time job since 2012, a job with ‘career’ and ‘retirement’ possibilities, still…all I can think of is “Don’t fuck up, don’t fuck up, don’t fuck up…….”