There’s a big push being done in the law enforcement community to show that police officers are just as human as the people we serve, and not monstrous automatons who keep our brains in the same holsters as our guns.
If you’re of a mind to look for it, facebook, instagram, and other internet outlets are full of accounts that post human interest stories, heart-warming anecdotes, and all kinds of things that are designed to say “Hey. Look. Cops are people too.”
This is a campaign I can get behind. I can think of literally no drawback from having the public recognize that I’m no different than they are.
The other day at work, I made a small, personal contribution to the “Humanize the Badge” movement, albeit completely by accident.
I was collecting some overtime, working a day shift. Once my eyes adjusted to something called ‘natural light’ and my skin ceased burning slightly, it wasn’t so bad. One of the neat things about working a day shift on campus, is that things are open. Dining halls, offices, all kinds of things. There are people to talk to, and things to do. So, in a bid to get out and walk around a little, I decided to patronize the campus coffee shop. It was a beautiful day, so I parked the patrol car, and walked into the building which houses the nursing program as well as the coffee shop. (I don’t think there’s a coincidence about the two of them being in the same building.)
The place was crowded. Bleary eyed students, a few faculty members, the shop employees, and one cop in need of coffee created a perfect environment for me to show everyone I was perfectly human.
I bought a large coffee, and made small talk with the cashier for a moment. Then, I took my cup over to the counter behind me so I could add cream and sugar. I poured a nice bit of cream into it, and grabbed three packets of sugar. Knowing that wouldn’t be enough, I reached for three more…and immediately dumped the entire contents of the cup all over the counter, floor, and myself. Actually, ‘dumped’ is something of a misnomer. It wasn’t a dump. I don’t know how I managed it, but this was more of a ‘fling the damn cup upward and outward with frightening velocity.’ It went everywhere. I ended up getting coffee inside the cup which held the paper-wrapped straws, basically ruining them.
I began relieving the shop of all of their napkins in an attempt to clean up, and two students came to my aid. I even got the old “Don’t worry, it happens all the time.” from the cashier who came over with a mop and a roll of paper towel.
They kindly poured me a second cup of coffee which I very nearly opted to drink black so I could get the hell out of there ASAP, but I didn’t. Carefully I performed the task of fixing it up, and walked out as deliberately as I could, without running in embarrassment.
It was only after I got back into the car that I tried to put a positive spin on it.
“There damn it. I’m just like you. Just as silly, clumsy, and unlucky as you. Only a little bit more so.”