It’s time for “creative person of the month.” Meet my Uncle Jed.
Is he a writer, editor, avid cook, or photographer? Maybe. I didn’t ask him those questions. I interviewed him because I have a theory that anyone who loves his or her job utilizes creativity, and I wasn’t sure how that might be involved with his particular professions.
So, Uncle Jed. Do you love your job?
I wonder if anyone completely loves their job?? I, for the most part, love what I do, both jobs, that is. But it hasn’t always been that way. My main job is being a policeman, copper, pig, the law, whatever your favorite euphemism is for a cop. I’m also a chiropractor.
What do you do in a typical day as a police officer?
Define typical? That’s the allure for me. I never know what I will see in any given day. It ranges from talking to grade-school kids about crosswalk safety, to herding loose cows, to kicking in a door on a drug house. On most days I am a patrol officer, so I answer calls for service and drive around doing traffic enforcement.
What do you love about your job?
I love the sound of a door being smashed in and the smell of a flash bang as we storm into a drug house and arrest some sh*heads.
I also love the humor in the job. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be finding humor in the depravity and suffering that I see on a daily basis, but it is a strange thing that emergency workers deal with. It’s not always black humor, but sometimes just strange things that happen. I once had a man get angry with me because I wouldn’t stop people from feeding ducks in the park. He felt that the ducks pooping on the pathways represented trespassing and that it was my job to stop people from feeding them. And this was important enough for him to call the police.
Being able to take care of tragedy is in its own way satisfying too. Just yesterday I was called on to take charge of the children from a house where the father shot the mother and then himself. Doing what is needed in a crisis is in a strange way fulfilling.
What parts of your job do you put up with so you can do the parts you like?
Contrary to what you may believe, most patrol cops don’t like writing tickets, so if you have received a lot of tickets in your life, it’s probably ’cause you are a really bad driver.
Putting up with the civil calls, the child custody calls or the “He has my stuff and I want you to get it back” calls are the worst. There is criminal law, for which the police have authority and were conceived, and there is civil law, which is a morass of bickering attorneys and judges’ opinions, for which the police have limited authority and no desire.
My personal favorites are when you have a mother scream at you to make her twelve-year-old boy clean up his room. Yes, society abdicates its responsibilities to anyone but themselves, so the police usually end up being called.
To be blunt, why do some police officers seem like jerks and how have you avoided that?
Hmmm, not sure I’ve avoided being a jerk. I’m sure many people think I am. I became a cop at age 40, so I had life experience going into the job. Becoming a cop is like having the curtain pulled back in the Wizard of Oz. We live our lives in a bubble of ignorance that is not all bad, but when you become a cop, that bubble is burst and you get to see behind the curtain the horrible things that people do. The amount of negative crap that the typical cop deals with will over time jade them into thinking that all people are hiding some dark secret. For me, the humorous nature of the job keeps me from taking my job or myself too seriously.
You’re also a chiropractor. Tell me about that. What do you do in a typical day?
That’s easy. I treat headaches and low back pain.
How did you go from being a full-time chiropractor to a full-time policeman?
Changing careers is a task not unlike sticking a fork in your eyeball. Here I spent money and time to become a chiropractor, and after 14 years of practice, I decided that I needed to do something else. I detest insurance companies (they are of the devil), so when I turned my practice into a cash practice, it cut my practice by 80 percent. So I reasoned it was time to get a job. What I found was that I was trapped by my education. So many interviews began by, “You’re a chiropractor? Well, you are too educated for this job.” I was instantly pigeon-holed by the fact that I had received my education in a certain field.
Friends suggested that I should become a cop. I thought to myself, “A cop? I am way too smart to be a cop.” Needless to say, I had misjudged a profession because of certain preconceptions. What I found was a job that I was well suited to doing. Being a cop requires an extensive set of a variety of skills, none of which I had any idea of before taking the leap. It was like starting from scratch. But don’t we all love learning and growing? Sure, it’s scary and painful, yet the end result is something that we can be proud of. Change is inevitable; our only choice is whether we will make the changes needed as a positive choice or be dragged kicking and screaming into them. One way or another, change will affect our lives.
How does creativity play into your job satisfaction?
My chiropractic practice was something that I didn’t enjoy when I was trying to do it the way everyone else does it. I found that I loathed insurance companies and attorneys that are involved in a high number of people seeking care. So the answer for me was smaller practice, no insurance, and an affordable fee. Now I love being a chiropractor.
So in any profession, maybe the secret to satisfaction is being creative enough to find how to do it your way. How do you bring creativity to being a cop?
For me, it is the humor. I love making people laugh on traffic stops and then giving them a warning so they can learn about their bad driving habits in a positive yet memorable way.
For my bookish readers, what are your top five favorite books?
Ah, books. I love books, and as a cop, I have lots of time to read. Weird, huh? For example, when someone wants to harm themselves or others, we lock them up in a mental institution for evaluation for 72 hours, but first we have to have them medically cleared for liability reasons, so we sit around for hours because hospitals operate on some other basis of time not known in the rest of the world. So I learned early on to have a book handy. Even on really boring SWAT calls.
Why didn’t you tell me more stuff about being a SWAT sniper?
‘Cause my editor complained about me being too wordy.
Sorry. Back to your top five reads.
Not in order, they are probably Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, The Stand by Steven King, The Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy and Larry Bond, and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. By making the list, though, I am torn because I didn’t include books by George Martin, C.S. Lewis, Isaac Asimov, or Jordan, or Niven, or . . . yeah, it goes on and on. I read a lot. And, no, Twilight is not on my list. I did love The Hunger Games, though. Aarrggh!! Don’t get me started. So many books, so little time.
You read Twilight?
I have a really good friend who is a big tough SWAT cop, and we share similar interests in books. He told me that Twilight was a good read . . . so on his recommendation, I read it. I have this problem that if I start a book, I have to finish it. It was painful.
What do you do when you’re not at work reading a book?
I have varied interests when not at work. I love flying planes, though I haven’t done so for a few years. I am an avid outdoors person. I like fishing, hunting birds, white-water kayaking, cycling, and hiking. I guess my most recent passion as far as a hobby goes is taking long rides on twisty roads on my motorcycle.
Any final thoughts for my dear creative readers?
If you do not like what you do for a living, then change, and change now. You don’t have to love what you do every minute, but you do have to find fulfillment and have overall enjoyment of your job. It’s got to be something that you look forward to doing, something that allows you to put yourself into the work. It was a surprise for me going from being a chiropractor to being a cop that I would find such enjoyment in police work. It suits me. I think that is the key for enjoyment of any job. Does it suit you?
Being a writer suits me because I can wear pajamas or yoga pants every day. But I guess you were talking about things I do for a living. Hmm. I’ll have to think about this advice some more.
Thanks, Uncle Jed!
Readers, any questions for the copper?
Have any of you been through a dramatic career change?
Is there anyone you want me to interview next—maybe you?