By Craig Hastings
Just when I think I’ve by happen chance realized about any conceivable reason why someone wouldn’t like me much; it happens again. If you’re a new reader to my column here in The Tri-County Journal and The Tuscola Journal I must tell you that my full-time job for 38 years has been and still is a police officer here in Tuscola. One year ago, I was also finishing 11 years of full-time employment here with The Tri-County and The Journal, because my mother and I shared ownership. My mother decided at the young age of 84 it was time for her to retire. Not ready to give up full-time law enforcement and do this full time, all the time, we passed our passion on to the Better Newspapers Group. I remain an employee, unable to give up my 51 years of print newspaper dedication and the occupation from which my father and mother raised five children.
My newspaper interest was reborn in 2006 when my mother requested I help her launch a new business venture. Overnight I began this new career never thinking I was going to have to write an opinion-based column much like my dad had for 45 years. This is the connect-the-dots puzzle of how you’re reading this today. Through this column, I’ve made many new friends I’ve never met face to face. I have received notes, cards, letters, and have had face-to-face meets with more readers than I can remember. Because The Tri-County reaches nearly 20,000 homes in three counties, so many people I would have never met feel they know me through my thoughts in the nearly 630 columns I’ve written.
I really enjoy the comments readers share with me. It motivates to do more, to share more, and continue on. Very seldom have I ever received much push back from what I’ve opined in my columns. When I do, it’s usually because of my political views I express in some columns. And I think that’s fair no matter how distasteful some comments have been directed at my conservative beliefs. How boring would our country be if we all agreed, right? Those few people have vowed to me to never read my column again. However, in due time they all come back around, forgive me if you will, and I hear from them again. I guess time will also heal all bad press too!
Well, last week I lost a faithful reader of my column over something other than my opinions. At least that’s what she told me; that she wouldn’t ever read my column again. I’ve known this nice lady for years, and she has told me in the past how much she enjoys reading my columns. Here’s what happened: It started with a disorderly property complaint made by neighbors. She was the resident of said property, and it was my job as a day shift police officer to talk to her about the concerns of the neighbors. This was not an unusual complaint for us at TPD. I’ve been mediating these complaints over my entire career here.
Here’s the procedure: We tell the resident of a property of concern they have 10 days to correct the ordinance violations. In 10 days, if the property is still in disarray, we will allow additional time if cleanup has started. In 20 days, or there about, we serve a complaint on the resident, and now the City Attorney has to be involved. We try very hard for these cases not to get so far as to involve the City Attorney. This one had gotten that far. So, several days later, I was called to the property on an unrelated matter. It was about some other people who were also living there at the time.
Fifteen minutes later the reason for the call to the property and the people involved was resolved, and I was walking away. As I walked to my car I hear: “Hey, Craig,” behind me. I stopped and looked around it was my friend, a faithful reader of my columns, the resident of the property, and she sitting in a lawn chair. “I just want to let you know I don’t like you anymore,” she said. I quipped back to her, “You do too, you read my columns, remember telling me?” “Nope, not reading them anymore, because I don’t like you anymore.” I chuckled, knowing full well her remarks were over the several incidents the police had been called to the area recently, and I didn’t believe she really meant what she was saying to me. I walked backward away from her and jokingly said to her, “You take time next week and think about what you’ve said today, and this time next week you won’t feel the same way!” She half smiled, and I drove away.
Last week, three weeks later, I was dispatched to a different residence over a domestic issue. Once resolved and ready to leave the property, I hear behind me again, “Hey, Craig.” It was her voice, and I discovered her in a vehicle with another familiar face. She smiled and without seriousness told me she still didn’t like me. What she was telling me was all was mostly forgiven from the weeks prior, I think. We talked about other things, and, as I walked away, I laughed and said to her, “You’re reading my column again aren’t you!” She laughed and then said, “No,” which I don’t believe. We’re friends again until something new might make her mad at me. She can be as mad as she wants, but I’ll still be her friend, mostly because I think deep down she doesn’t mean it.
It’s an unusual situation for me to be the Police Chief here and write a column for the local paper every week for the past 12 years that mostly has nothing to do with law enforcement. For sure its not fair to yourself not to read my column if you don’t like me as a police officer. But, it is okay to tell me you don’t read it even though you do. I’m good with that. And…if you’re reading this, my friend of which I write this tonight: I hope you enjoyed this and continue to read it. It’s okay to tell me you still don’t like me. Read the column and if you miss a paper, I’ll bring you one. After all, isn’t that something a friend would do for a friend? You have a good day!