Wednesday, September 26, 2012

John: YOU Talk to the Police!

Fall is in the air.  Yesterday I saw fallen yellow leaves gathered in the bed of truck for the first time this year. As I watched my youngest son leave for school with one of his friends early this morning, my mind traveled back to the fall of 1978. I was his age in September of that year.  And I picked up a neighborhood friend for school on most weekdays. She put her makeup on in the car as we made our way to the donut shop in Monterey Center.

For some strange reason today my mind gravitated to another fall day in 1978. We were competing in a two day debate tournament at Odessa High School out in West Texas. Our coach left us in our motel rooms on that Friday night operating under the false assumption that we were in for the night. I will never reveal whose idea it was… One of us decided to play “toga football” out in the parking lot of the motel late that evening. We stripped the sheets off the beds, wrapped ourselves in togas and proceeded to call the plays. It was great fun until someone called the police…

Several officers converged on the parking lot prepared to deal with a riot. To this day I don’t know why this happened, but for some odd reason I was tapped out to be the spokesman for our group to the Odessa Police. “John, you talk to the police!”  Why me? Apparently they had received a call that there was a fight in progress. I very politely explained that we were simply playing “toga football.”  I made sure that I said “yes sir” and “no sir.” As I look back on it, I am sure those officers were doing everything they could to keep from cracking up.

It has been 34 years since that eventful night in Odessa. Little did I know in 1978 that I would spend many weekends assisting debate coaches to supervise little darlings that would be inclined to have toga parties on overnight debate trips? Bless their hearts they had no clue that their sponsor known to them as “Dr. Knox” was the most mischievous debater Monterey High School’s team has ever known. They would not possibly think of something that I had not done. 

And little did I know in 1978 that I would spend a big part of my career talking to the police…. Fortunately I have been privileged to talk to the police in the front seat of a patrol car and not the back seat. I will soon celebrate 23 years of service a law enforcement chaplain. Nearly every week I receive a call from an officer or a police supervisor asking me: “Will you talk to one of my officers?” And my response is always: Of course I will. After all I have been doing it since 1978.

Parents let this little narrative be a source of encouragement.  Mischievous kids grow up.  Every experience shapes what they become. The future is unpredictable in one sense, but perhaps very predictable in another way! If I get a call from a police supervisor today, my mind will travel back to 1978. “John, you talk to the police!”

No comments: