By Craig Hastings
If you read my column this week you’re going to hear me whine and complain about turning 62 this past week. No need to feel bad if you cared to wish me happy birthday, because I didn’t want to be reminded. Believe me, there are plenty of things that happen day in and day out that remind me that my hike up the hill is getting harder and harder. I was educated to the fact that I’m able to collect social security benefits should I decide to retire any time soon. Thanks for that tidbit of information I didn’t want to hear. Some how the folks AARP must have all of my age related information. Instead of two letters a month loaded with information on the benefits, I received two letters in one week. My elders ask me frequently why I’ve never joined AARP. I guess as a cardholder I can get free or cheap coffee that I’ve never drank in my life. At some participating restaurants I might get a discount on my meals and so on and so on. I don’t eat out very often, and when I do I’ll be danged if I’m scouting my options based on a discount. No, I usually make the decision on what I’m going to eat based on what sounds good at the time and not where I can eat for less than the people sitting next to me.
My AARP club membership will have to wait for now. If I joined right now I would feel as though I’d thrown in the towel and given in to senior citizenship. Anyway one our many fast food restaurants in town will usually have a two for one burger or other sandwich deal going on. I’ll keep on the look out for one of those meals priced less than usual as opposed to flashing an AARP badge at the checkout counter. I’m not intending to bash anyone that is a member and some of my friends are. But, as long as I’m working and can afford to do it, I’m going to live my life just as I have for the present 62 years. I’ll save a dollar or two by taking advantage of the same advertised specials as anyone 61 and under. I’m doing my best to ignore the fact that I can’t stop the time train.
So what else happened this past week that reminded me that I wasn’t keeping up? I haven’t worked late on very many Friday nights in the past year because of staff shortages at the Police Department. Since 1986 I have always worked until 11 p.m. or usually later on into the early morning hours. Well, this past Friday the stars aligned and I was up for a full 3-11 p.m. shift. During my months working earlier shifts on Fridays the police department has had a couple of changes in staffing I hadn’t thought about. On Friday nights I will drive as many miles as anyone working and usually more miles than most. I get to worry less about administrative duties this shift and get a chance to get back to my roots of patrol in the 1980’s. Trust me when I tell you that the nighttime population of Tuscola can be and usually is of a different behavior than the weekday daytime population.
So why do I choose to work Friday nights then? Because I enjoy the challenges some of the nighttime population will bring to the table. I don’t dislike the majority of those misbehaving late at night or early in the morning. I feel my worth of being a police officer much more dealing with neighbors fighting because of too much to drink as opposed to those in the daylight hours who complain about their neighbors grass being to tall. You can probably guess that the traffic on the Rt. 36 corridor through town is crazy on Friday and Saturday nights. So when we’re not on dispatched calls for service we try to maintain some sort of civility in the traffic flow traveling through Tuscola.
I have never had any trouble managing my share of the traffic load on Friday nights. As a matter of fact, not since the nights that Rich and I used to work together on Friday nights have I ever had to step it up to keep up. Well I was struggling this past Friday night! I was working with two young officers hooking all the big bass and leaving me the sunfish and minnows! I guess I shouldn’t be complaining, but dang it guys! In all of the old westerns I watch the Chief is always leading the charge and the Indian warriors follow his lead. Well this old Chief was left in the dust wondering what just happened. No matter I told myself at 11 p.m. I’ll go home and rethink a strategy to deal with these younger whipper snappers I have to work with now. Could be I’ll pick Rich up and have him ride with me so we could teach these young-lings a thing or two!
Let me think here; between Rich and I we’ll have 125 years of age and 74 years of combined law enforcement experience vs their less than 70 years of age and less than 40 years of law enforcement experience. I think we got this. Seriously though I should have been prepared. These two officers have been making repeated traffic stops where they have discovered methamphetamine, guns, suspended and revoked drivers along with numerous outstanding warrant arrests of drivers and passengers. Unlike my days of yore, these arrests are of people who do not reside in Tuscola. So why are they here and who are they associating with, if anyone, in Tuscola? Times have changed, and it appears I’ll have to step up my efforts.