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  • Writer's pictureJason E. Fort

What is your Profession?

About eight years ago, I was sitting on a bar stool...

at the top of a set of stairs from Main Street, checking IDs as people came through the door of a dining and drinking establishment - whose clientele changed on a weekend basis, every night after 10 PM. I remember one particular night, and a local regular customer with a cowboy hat came strolling in through the door and handed me his ID.

"Jeff - what are you doing? Everyone here knows who you are," I said as I started to hand his ID back to him.

"What do you mean what am I doing? What are YOU doing - still sitting here checking IDs, when you should be out there as a police officer?" Jeff asked.

As he stood there and reached out to take back his ID, my mind went elsewhere... way down memory lane, back to the year 1982.

There I was sitting in my seat in Mrs. Gibson's second grade class, and we were about to have a new session of House-Wise-Street-Wise. In through the door walks this large, strapping police officer in a dark uniform, with a blue triangle on his sleeve, a very pronounced 'cop-stache', and a big shiny silver badge. The man had a presence about him that had every kid in the room entralled in what he had to say - and 'Officer Friendly' (turns out that was his actual name) made a lasting impression on me that day that would bring me back to that moment at the top of the stairs with Jeff. Officer Friendly told us that we should always make wise decisions, and base those decisions on doing what we knew was right versus what we knew was wrong. He said 'do what's right, and you'll stay out of trouble'. He said that people who do what's right also tend to avoid bad situations and even stay out of danger. He said not to do drugs, because all they'd ever bring you is trouble. He said that if you go to the wrong places with the wrong people, bad things happen. That message just made so much sense, and happened to line up with things my own dad said.

And I remember thinking back then, "Wonder what it would be like to be like that Officer."

Flash forward back to the top of the steps with Jeff. He brought me back to reality after just a split second, "Well... haven't you ever given it any thought?"

I handed him back his ID. I thought a moment, then I said to Jeff, "Not in a long time, Jeff. But now that you mention it, I might just have to give it some serious thought."

That night I went home late, as I did most nights that I worked at Chicora, and I couldn't sleep because I thought about it until the wee hours of the morning. I came to the conclusion that a career in law enforcement was something I wanted to do - but of course I had to talk to my wife. Later the next day, I brought up the possibility of that kind of job with my wife. I could tell that she had some consternation. But after some discussion, she told me that she was behind me if it was something I really wanted to do. And the rest, after many applications and a few interviews, is history.

Now I am a training officer for a growing police department in a large health care system. It is safe to say that after training, and years in service both as a regular officer and training officer, I enjoy what I do. It has taken hard work, some actual blood, sweat, and yes - even tears. But I continue in this job because I have a desire to be good at it, to succeed at it, and to complete a mission. That mission is to protect and serve. To me, this job I have... is a profession.

So what is your profession?

Someone once said, “Your job may be your occupation, but not every occupation is a profession.”

Another person somewhere also once said, “The fact that you work in a profession does not in and of itself make you a professional.”

So are you a professional?

When you are at your job every day, are you confident in your knowledge of your job? Do you care enough to declare whether or not you are competent at your job as well? Does it matter to you?

Are you there just going through motions that were trained by someone else, just to pass the time and draw a paycheck?

Or do you take pride in what you do? Do you care about how good other people think you are at your job? Do you continually strive to improve the job you do?

Or do you settle for mediocrity?

Are you in a position at your job where you are proud when you tell other people about what you do?

Are you in a position at your job where you feel like you make a difference?

If something happened to you where you work, and you could not return - would the people you work for notice you gone or at least have a task ahead of them trying to replace you?

The questions I pose in this post are all questions that really, only YOU can answer... for YOURSELF.

I wanted to post on this topic this month because I have posed similar questions to security officers that I trained. I think it is a wise thing to think about when considering how successful you want to be.

So as I come to a close, I am reminded of that ever important question that is asked near the end of the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, as King Arthur must cross a bridge to reach the grail.

"What - is your profession?"

Can you answer that question before you finish crossing this bridge we call life, from birth, to your death?

And one more question for you to ponder -

Is it possible for one person to have more than one profession?

More on that, on a later post next month.

Thanks for reading.

Jason E. Fort

Independent author, Police Officer

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