When I was retired out from the police department on an injury, I was fortunate to get a 'civilian' job in a software company reasonably quickly. I thought to myself that I had transitioned from dealing with crack-addicts to working with Mensa members. Occasionally one of my new workmates would complain to me about the work s/he was doing. Although I could understand their frustration, I had a difficult time sympathizing as I reflected on my 18 years as a police officer and the realization that the job of police officer had only gotten harder since I had left. I know at times I felt that my job as a police officer was incredibly stressful and depressing. The software industry is stressful, but a different kind of stress. Everyone new they were going home at night. To keep my life in perspective, I had a copy of the following poem framed on my desk and I read it often.
While searching for a copy of this poem to include in this post, I came across a video made by an eleven year old who put images and music to the poem. It can be found on the THIN BLUE LINE COFFEE Facebook page. The author of the poem is unknown.
"The Final Inspection"
The policeman stood and faced his God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining.
Just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now, policeman.
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My church have you been true?"
The policeman squared his shoulders and said,
"No, Lord, I guess I ain't,
Because those of us who carry badges
can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays,
and at times my talk was rough,
and sometimes I've been violent,
Because the streets are awfully tough.
But I never took a penny,
That wasn't mine to keep....
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around
Except to calm their fear.
If you've a place for me here,
Lord, It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't.....I'll understand.
There was silence all around the throne
Where the saints had often trod.
As the policeman waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, policeman,
You've borne your burdens well.
Come walk a beat on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in hell."
Please take a minute to think of how you can help these officers and their families in their time of need. I started THIN BLUE LINE COFFEE to do just that, to make it easy and enjoyable to donate to a law enforcement charity. Your contribution may be small, but combined with others it can be a formidable force for good. Enjoy very good coffee knowing you are doing good in the process. Thanks.