Monday, July 10, 2017

Officer Underwood - Always Stay Humble and Kind

When those dreams you're dreamin' come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind.

- lyrics by Lori McKenna, sung by Tim McGraw

I wanted to be a truck driver.  A big rig, cab over Pete with the reefer on kinda truck driver!  When I was 10, I got a CB radio and a beach towel with trucker terminology printed all over it - smokey, seat cover, bear in the air, 10-10 on the side Good Buddy.  Listened to Red Sovine, Dave Dudley and CW McCall.  Oh I was into it.  Then Star Wars came out and I think I wanted to be a pilot.  And then maybe an artist.  By college, I was gonna be a chemical engineer before I was gonna be an electrical engineer.  By the time I graduated, I had it figured out.  Or did I?  Maybe I wanna be a writer.  Or a photographer.  Oh dammmmmmm.  I'm so confused!!!

Most people I know have weaved a similar disjointed web of "what I wanna be when I grow up."  My son is not most people.  When Chris was in middle school, he wanted to be a police officer.  That has never changed.  Oh sure, he had a few months when he expected to play football at Michigan and get drafted by the Patriots.  But for as long as he could imagine a future, he wanted to be a police officer.

He entered college as a Criminal Justice major and left college 4 years later with a Criminal Justice degree.  Even before he graduated, he was taking police exams in towns around southern New Hampshire.  He learned very quickly that this is a very rigorous and competitive process.  Often times, a hundred candidates would test for one job.  So despite consistently having the highest scores in the written exams and physical agility tests, rejection became the norm.  Finding a letter in the mailbox from a police department became a downer.  Sometimes it was a who you know kind of decision.  Some times it was just that others interviewed better.

Most would have given up after the first 5 or 6 rejection letters.  But in no way was Chris letting go of his dream.  He would just keep trying.  This is who he is.  He is the guy who played freshman basketball in high school, but was cut from the team as a sophomore.  So he just tried out again as a junior and got cut.  And then he tried out again senior year.  Why would he keep trying when the odds were against him?  Because, as he would say, the odds were worse if he didn't try out at all.  So that's what he did.  He never made the varsity basketball team, but he didn't have to.  He just had to try. This is also the same kid who played football since he was seven years old.  The helmet bobbled around on his tiny head.  He was never really a star player, although he did have one Pop Warner season with 13 touchdowns as a wing back.  But he kept playing.  In high school, he hit the weight room.  He got faster and stronger.  He played varsity as a junior and started as a senior.  He added pounds of muscle and became a physical beast and won the football team's Iron Man contest his senior year.  He was gonna play football in college no matter what.  He tried to walk on at Westfield State his sophomore year.  He basically harassed the head coach with phone calls and emails until he got a meeting.  He was invited to work out, but there was no room on the team that fall for him.  Coach said to come back for spring workouts and we will see what we can do for next year.  So he stayed with it.  He impressed during spring workouts with his speed and strength.  Played some semi-pro football in the summer and returned to school his junior year where he made the team as a defensive back.  He didn't see much of the field.  But he was on the team.  Because that's what he said he would do.  When I say that rejection makes this guy stronger, that's an understatement.

Tonight, his perseverance once again has paid off.  Chris swore under oath, in front of plenty of family and friends, to serve and protect the community and is at last a full time police officer.  I was proud and honored to be asked to present him with his first badge.  Not only has this been his dream for a long time, but this is the job that makes perfect sense for who he is.  He has the perfect temperament in stressful situations and will be a very good cop.  In just over a year as a security officer at Lowell General Hospital, he has become a highly respected and important part of the emergency department because of how he assists with volatile situations and how he interacts with patients and staff.  They say he will be missed.

At the beginning, I quoted Tim McGraw's Humble and Kind because I truly believe that song defines my son.  There's another line in there that says,
"Don't expect a free ride from no one. Don't hold a grudge or a chip and here's why. Bitterness keeps you from flying, so always stay humble and kind." 
He could have been bitter toward the high school basketball coach, the college football coach or the entire application process of becoming a police officer.  Instead, he flew!!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Chris!!!! That's quite an accomplishment! And as always Ken, your words touched me deeply.....