Recently I had a friend ask me what I told my family about my job.
For those of you not in the know, I work in law enforcement. Other than typically trying to downplay most things I see or do, I had never given it much thought. I know they worry, so I try to alleviate as much of that as one can do in this profession.
The way social media is these days, it is possible they may hear about particularly bad scenes while I am still on them. That’s just the nature of the beast. I don’t lie to them about what happened, but I do leave out any details I don’t want them to hear.
I don’t lie to them about the world we live in. I try to keep them in a protected bubble as much as I can, but I let them know there are bad people out there. Not misunderstood people. Not people who didn’t get enough hugs as a kid and like to act out. Just straight up bad people who do straight up bad things for no reason.
Dr. Phil and the judicial system can figure out how to fix them. I just want my kids to know they exist, and how to deal with them should they ever be forced to.
They know when we are eating out that I will sit facing the door. I don’t like anyone behind me. That’s not a habit I picked up when I started this career, but it is definitely one I am not giving up anytime soon.
Hypervigilance is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviors whose purpose is to detect activity. In other words, viewing everyone you ever meet as a potential threat. I guess it goes without saying, at this point, that I don’t care much for large crowds.
Because I work in the same area I live, I will often see people I have dealt with on the job while I am out with my family. Depending on what the basis of our work-related encounter was, some people may not like me as much as I would prefer they did.
My children know if we are ever in public and I reach for my weapon to get as far away from me as they can, as quickly as possible.
One of the more interesting habits I have formed since I began this career is I very rarely carry anything in my right hand anymore. That’s my dominant hand, the one closest to my weapon.
I don’t remember how I developed this habit, but I have found myself subconsciously carrying things in my left hand even on off days around the house. I find it fascinating that my body has learned a complete new way of doing something in just a few years, after a lifetime of doing the opposite.
I don’t like going to either of my children’s schools in uniform because I don’t want them to catch any grief from classmates who have been brought up to not like/trust/respect a person in uniform.
I don’t put blue line stickers on our personal vehicles. Not because I am not proud of what I do for a living. Outside of my family, I have never been more proud of anything in my life than I am of my current job.
I just don’t want to put my family in possible harm’s way from someone who may wish to harm those in this profession.
Toby Nix is a local writer, guitarist and deputy sheriff.