It is nearly midnight - about five hours into a twelve-hour shift. I am standing at the local "Stop and Rob" (convenience store) as one of my shift partners strolls in. He grabs two 20 ounce Red Bull drinks from the cooler and a container of Pepcid AC. "What's up with that?" I ask.
It seems that the new kid on the team got himself tied up on a BS arrest a couple of hours back. By the time he cleared up the paper all of the local eateries were closed. The prospect of facing the rest of the shift without food is daunting. So, he is grabbing a couple of these caffeine-laden kings. The Pepcid AC is for the heartburn that will inevitably follow a short time later.
Allow me to digress. I am a dinosaur, by any measures. I have socks in my dresser drawer that are older than some of the young guys on the crew. To be sure, I am no smarter than they. In fact, the young ones coming up now seem to border on being genius. I am confident that our future is in very good hands. However, I have had some experiences that they have yet to encounter. Long ago, I graduated from the school of hard knocks. The purpose of this writing is NOT to preach. I only hope to give the younger ones among us something to consider. Take from it what helps and throw the rest away.
When I was at the front-end of my career, I did not see how every choice, every step, every meal and every workout would remain part of who I am forever. Together, they would ultimately shape me - either in a way that improved or diminished what I have become today. My body composition was almost totally a result of how much food I ate and equally important, the types of foods I ate.
Back when I was in school, it was fashionable to smoke. With some pride, I avoided picking up the habit all through high school. However, by my second year of college, I had become a regular customer of the tobacco industry.
In my twenties and thirties, I can recall some of my favorite lunch meals. The best was a steak sandwich on a large roll slathered in butter. On the side was a large order of French fries and the meal was launched with a tossed salad swimming in extra Bleu Cheese dressing. Just perfect, eh?
I figured that I was young. I could do whatever I wanted because I could recover from anything, right? No so fast.
When I turned forty, I tipped the scale at nearly 300 pounds. My cigarette habit had grown to three packs a day! At today's price for smokes, I would have gone broke. (sigh)
It has been a long road back. I am only going to make that journey once.
I Am Not The Only One
Here are some short stories about three of my buddies.
Pal #1 - One of my first training officers thought the best way to choose a place to eat during the shift was determined by how big a discount the owner gave to cops. Anything free was perfect. More often than not, we wound up at the drive through window at McDonald’s. I remember standing near him at inspection one day. His 44 inch belt stretched around him like a length of string crimping link sausage in the middle.
Pal #2 - A close buddy of mine graduated from the academy well able to complete the daily six mile run. He was in the best shape of his life. He went to work in a very small department in southeast Michigan. Being the FNG (Fabulous New Guy), he was stuck on midnights for an eternity.
From time-to-time, he would lament about his struggle to get to the gym regularly. The village where he worked became a ghost-town by about 9:00PM every night. So, in the middle of his eight hour shift (which started at 11:00PM), there was no place to eat, other than the snack shelf in the convenience store in the gas station.
He called me one day after about three years on. He had gained fifty pounds of blubber around his middle since graduation. He was determined to do something about it - and he did.