Being a cop provides you with a front row seat to the greatest show on earth. However, exposure to life’s rawest theater comes with consequences. Your head will shake while your jaw drops as society’s worst actors reinforce the idea evil is real. You’ll see strange, twisted behavior that never crossed your mind.
After decades of witnessing these acts, your sense of humor gets twisted too. Over time the incidents lose their shock appeal. As a matter of fact, nothing surprises you anymore, a sign of saltiness. Amongst the ranks, an “Old Salt” is an endearing term for those veteran officers who’ve seen it all.
Laugh Or Cry?
Humor makes most things tolerable. Twisted humor is the mechanism cops use to make serious situations more bearable by making light of life’s ugly events. The ability to pluck strands of wit, or bemusement from grisly occurrences is a release valve for stress.
Gallows humor allows cops to function, preserving their sanity. I always surrounded myself with fellow cops who kept the mood light and airy, until it was time to put on our game face. No sense being stressed or weepy, there’s more than enough to go around. These traits follow cops into retirement too — you know evil exists and your sense of humor is warped.
Most retired cops are always armed. They’d all shield their loved ones from danger without hesitation. Most would, for total strangers. When going out, old cops are alert, looking for trouble. Not to confront, but to avoid. They don’t need confrontation.
First rule of survival is being armed, second is to avoid using force, sidestepping confrontations. Retirees have no powers of arrest. Their gun can only be used for protection from great bodily harm or death of themselves or others. This is why retired cops are happy staying home or visiting with known, trusted friends.
Home On the Range
On the home front, the best example of being prepared can be explained by introducing my friend Phil. A cop’s cop, retiring years ago, Phil was a Trooper, K9 handler, SWAT team member and finally Firearms Instructor. No Marvin Milquetoast, Phil is all Trooper. He cleaned things up by locking up bad guys. Simple formula, eh?
Most cops desire seclusion at home, dreaming of living on top of a mountain or out in the middle of nowhere, having a long line of sight. Phil did just that, building his house on top of the highest point of his 67-acre property. His driveway is about a half-mile, complete with motion sensors. Yeah, plural!
Having 90 seconds to “get ready” when alerted, he grabs his trusty Walmart Greeter, a shortened double-barreled shotgun. Carried along his leg, it’s unnoticeable, as he steps onto his deck, peering out, waiting. If known, he returns the greeter, if not, it stays by his side.
Inside, Phil’s La-Z-Boy chair has a .38 snubby within reach. He also has a 6″ S&W model 28 Highway Patrolman tucked away to answer any trouble. He’s rehearsed scenarios with his wife, should a home invader make the mistake of entering, involving his Colt 1911.
Does he sound paranoid? Phil simply says, “I’m too old to fight and too young to die!” Is it paranoia if you know people are willing to hurt you for your belongings? Most cops believe it’s better to have and not need, being prepared for the worst, while hoping for the best.
Phil’s over 75, sharp as a tack, and has a great sense of humor. I constantly get several funny emails from him, some needing to be opened privately. He shares them to keep things light and airy. But rest assured, when it’s time to put on his game face and take care of business, Phil is ready. We meet regularly for breakfast, both always armed, always cheerful, always happy, always prepared. You’d never know it
Phil loves life, America, friends and guns. He hosts a Shootout every spring for his closest friends to shoot, eat a catered breakfast and lunch, catch up, have some laughs and enjoy life. What else is there? Be smart, stay safe, have fun and laugh when you can. Be prepared for the worst while enjoying the best life has to offer. Be an “Old Salt” and think like Phil! Have fun while being safe.