I had a nice conversation with a retired police officer yesterday. It was the first time we met and we both shared several stories of our careers, retirements, experiences. He told me a story about a conversation he had with an older cop when he was just starting out.
The old cop made reference to the newness of the young recruits leather. He said, “It still squeaks when you move doesn’t it? Well one day the leather won’t squeak and you’ll have a lot of days on the job. It won’t be as new and exciting as it is today. One thing you need to remember. Today, and actually every day, you will deal with someone who is probably having the worst day of his or her life. To you it will be just another day on the job, but it will be that person’s worst day. So don’t underestimate the importance of showing that person some compassion”.
I paraphrased this story a little bit, and my new friend doesn’t remember who first shared it with him. But even though I can’t give credit to its originator, I think it is a critical message for all of us in the professions to remember as we go about our daily responsibilities. Our jobs require that we be and act strong, principled, forceful, determined, safe. That we protect. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t also take on those responsibilities remembering words like kindness, gentleness and compassion.
Today I give thanks for the opportunity to hear these stories and pass them on for the benefit of others.