Six Years Ago Today
Six years ago today my dear friend Debby picked me up at home and drove me down to our headquarters building. I rode the elevator up to Human resources and found a line waiting for the room I was interested in. I was a little surprised there were so many of us in line.
It moved quickly, and I was soon handing over my star, hat shield, and ID card to an officer at a table. Before I knew it, I was getting my photo taken for a new ID card that indicated I was retired. They handed me a new lieutenant’s star with the word retired in place of my star number.
As we left the building several old friends wished me well and asked about my plans. I took the above photo while standing in front of the fallen star display.
From headquarters, we went downtown to the pension board office and I filled out some more paperwork. In no time at all everything was in order.
In two to three hours, I went from being a sworn police officer to civilian.
Debby took me out for lunch and we shared a bottle of champagne to celebrate my almost thirty years under a star.
I went from having a secretary and being the commanding officer of two hundred and fifty officers to being master of my three dogs. At least they listened to me, usually.
The first few weeks feel like an extended furlough. After a while, you’re ready to go back to work. If you let it, you might get depressed. I decided not to let it.
I didn’t want a full-time job. I had worked almost my entire life starting as a paperboy delivering in the dark. I paid my dues and it was time to reap the benefits. Still, I needed something to keep active. I joined a gym and went several times a week. I road my Honda Goldwing motorcycle as often as possible and I looked for more to do. Truth is I was tired. I was burned out. I needed to retire when I did.
My last ten years I spent as the C.O. of a large unit with a lot of issues. There wasn’t a day that went by without someone causing me frustration. I’m a problem solver by nature so I thrived on it. I was on the board of the Chicago Police Lieutenants Association, the collective bargaining unit for Lieutenants of the CPD. I eventually became president of the association for six years. That was a 24/7/365 job. I also sat on the Illinois PB&PA board and rose to second vice president.
With all these roles I was under a great deal of stress. I loved it but slowly eroded and tired me out. Even worse I developed a crippling sciatica problem and was unable to move much at all. It took two years and the talents of a wonderful massage therapist to get me back to health.
I don’t drink much anymore. Nothing against it, I just really don’t want to. I enjoyed the social aspects of getting together for a drink but the calories and foggy feeling the next day were an issue. As a working officer on the street, I would meet other officers for a coffee break every day. We always had a go cup full of that hot brew in the cup holders. I decided that I would start stopping for coffee at a local coffee shop and let my friends of Facebook know I was going there. The invitation was always open. At least half of the time someone stops in and joins me for a cup. The rest of the time I read my Kindle.
One day a friend stopped in to join me and told me about the book he wrote. I was interested. Jokingly I said to myself, “If he can write a book there is no reason I can’t.” So, I did. Thank you, Larry. The first book was fun, and I realized I enjoy writing. Since then I have finished five novels and a short story. The sixth novel is almost done. I have met other officers who also wanted to write. We support each other’s efforts with critiques and reviews. We help each other with marketing and production ideas.
I also found I enjoy writing articles for Law Enforcement Today. They have encouraged me and given me a venue to share my thoughts. This is my 80th article they have published. They have shown support and encouragement. Thank you, Robert, Jim, and Jay. I appreciate your support.
So, what do I do these days? I get up without an alarm, make coffee and sit down at my computer. After going through my messages and mail I start in on writing or marketing. If you want to sell a book you have to do a lot of marketing. I wanted to go out for a ride on the MC today, but it snowed so that might not happen today. I may go out for coffee later. Depends on how I feel. You see I’m retired, I can do whatever I want. Maybe today I’ll just enjoy coffee at home with a satisfied smile on my face.
Stay safe everyone. Run low and zigzag.
– Robert Weisskopf (Lt. ret.)
Editor’s note: You can read all of Robert Weisskopf’s articles at https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/author/robertw332/ and find all his books on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2PsbT4t.