Flamenca Friday — Tongues will wag!

Just try to remember
that their words are just tools;
neither build nor break
if not given the edge
that they’re spurring such fools.

One thing I hope people never say about me is that I am — or was — a terrible person who is — or was — terrible to others.

Not that I care so much what other people say or think about me. Neither do I put much stock in much of what others say about me; it’s a natural defense I’m (admittedly) still developing halfway into my forties. It’s about survival, after all — putting things into perspective and remembering that people say things that wound you for all kinds of reasons. Some do it with good intention, even. After a hellacious youth in which everything said to me was taken to heart, during which I took myself way too seriously and developed a sense of humor regarding the behavior of others far later (I’ve always been a late bloomer!) I’m still sensitive to certain comments. Lately it’s yo-yo inmates observing how I’ve “stacked on the pounds” since the last time they saw me, or that “I’ve been eating good” since the last time they were in. Forget the fact that I’ve stopped serially starving myself for the sake of fitness goals, or that doing so has enabled me to engage in long-term strength training, both of which will make a man wider over time. These are the things that I had to bear in mind when I finally begrudgingly asked my Training Sergeant for a new set of uniforms in the next size up for the first time in almost five years of employment with the County. As she was stuffing shirts and pants into a garbage bag for me like an elf loading Santa’s sack, I happened to mention those comments in passing and she ruefully replied, “oh yes, they do like to tell the truth . . . “

So yeah, I get better all the time at not really giving a second thought to what people think or say of me. But this all falls back to what I think of myself; although I eschew the former, I do so to protect the latter — they are only independent insofar as I keep them separated in my own conscious. As long as I let people tell me what to think about myself, I have no chance of making myself any better, because most people don’t want us to be better. Most people who make the effort to paint others in a negative light want us to be worse than them, because doing so is easier than taking the (worthwhile) steps to improve themselves. And a lot of otherwise decent people do this without even realizing it. Hell, I’ve trash-talked others before, simply out of being jealous that they find it so easy to excel. They certainly haven’t let it bother them.

The only reason I hope people never say that about me is because I would never want it to be true.

In the world of professional Law Enforcement, nothing is sacred anymore. Anyone else may be able to live their lives in a state of social compromise without hurting anyone or anything else . . . it’s called “going along to get along”, which is encouraged by society. But for those of us in law enforcement, it’s the first thing we have to sacrifice in order to survive in the profession. We have to take up a supervisory role over other people and we have to be hard about it. But as I’ve said before and as I will say again, this doesn’t mean that I don’t care and it doesn’t mean that I don’t have faith that our inmates have what it takes to live like (so-called) normal people. I’m not there to judge people by what they’re accused of; on the other hand, as a member of the executive branch of the County I am there to observe and react, and I can and will judge them by their behavior under my eye.

But I won’t be terrible. If they’re not harming anyone or creating a situation in which anyone may be harmed, I’m not interested in making things worse than them. I’m not power-tripping and I’m not a tyrant . . . . and I don’t think I will ever be. And if they say I am or was, I have to have the confidence that I did the right thing at the time for all concerned, including society and the facility.

And speaking of doing the right thing, I have some sidewalks to clear.

The blizzard rages on . . .


  1. Just remember that what people say about you is a reflection of who they are. Being siblings and our younger years, I thought you were a little turd. Very much like you thought I was a b****. Growing up changes perspectives in life though. Today I have a different opinion of you than I did 30 years ago. You’re an amazing man, terrific husband and father, and all around great guy. You’ve come a long ways. Love you, bro.

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