I’m not making this up.
July, 1983, 6:30 am. I was a uniform cop working midnight shift. Day 6 of 7 consecutive midnights. With 15 minutes left before off duty, I got a radio broadcast – “domestic.” The address was about 5 blocks from where my gym is now situated. I walked up to the back screen door. Two guys were yelling at each other in the kitchen. One guy was about 55, the other guy was about 30. Two ashtrays overflowed with cigarette butts on the kitchen table. Too many empty beer bottles to count. The kitchen smelled like a backed-up sewer. Neither guy had showered in days.
The older guy said, “GET HIM THE FUCK OUT…NOW!!!”
I said, “Who are you?”
Older guy said, “HIS FATHER. I WANT HIM THE FUCK OUTTA HERE.”
I asked, “No problem. But out of curiosity what did your son do?”
Older guy screams, “HE CALLED ME A CATHOLIC!!!”
I said to the younger guy, “I’m Catholic. What’s your point?”
Younger guy answers, “I’M NOT FUCKING LEAVING!!!”
The decisions we make shape our lives. Nothing just happens. We decide what happens. My attitude had changed dramatically in less than eight years of being a cop. I resigned from policing exactly 7 years later, in 1990, because I couldn’t stomach the thought of having my professional career and my growth controlled by ivory tower occupiers. What used to be exciting and challenging became boring and repetitive.
I said to the younger guy, “Last chance…let’s go.”
Younger guys asks, “WHY DO I HAVE TO LEAVE MY OWN HOUSE JUST BECAUSE THIS MOTHERFUCKER CALLED THE COPS?”
I asked older guy, “Is this your house?”
Older guy answer, “NO” in a tone like I was stupid for not having known what he knew.
Dad visits kid. Kid calls dad names. Dad calls cops and wants kid kicked out of kid’s own house.
I told both of them that they should be ashamed of themselves for calling each other motherfuckers. “You’re family for fuck sakes. You gotta fight for each other, not with each other. What the fuck is wrong with you? Now shake hands and stop acting like assholes.” They did. I left.
My point is this:
- Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t make assumptions even if you see it with your own eyes.
- Ask questions. Get answers. What you see may not be what it appears to be.
- There are F’d up people around. Don’t try to figure them out. You’ll lose your mind trying.
- Studying psychology is nice but it will never give an answer about how all human minds really work.
- Conflict is the single biggest waste of time on planet Earth. Nothing comes close.
- To solve conflict, don’t beat around the bush. Get to the point.
- Unresolved conflict is the cause of all hell.
- Changing careers changed my life.
I am eternally grateful for the police hiring me just after my 18th birthday. I am eternally grateful for having been a cop for 15 years, between1975-1990. What policing teaches is tacit – it’s almost impossible to explain. But I’m more eternally grateful for having left. I’m more eternally grateful for having a business that’s working out right smack in the middle of fond memories from my police days. Across the road from my gym is an abandoned building. Every time I look there, I think of a 300-lb guy holding his senior citizen mother hostage with a butcher knife at her throat. Just down the street from my gym is an abandoned building where a bar used to be. Every time I drive past the side door, I recall a guy bleeding from a hole in his skull carved out by his brother’s pool stick. And they call Philadelphia the City of Brotherly Love.
Unresolved conflict is the cause of all hell – inner and outer. Think of whatever hell you can come up with and you’ll find that unresolved conflict is the cause of it. All hell starts with ignoring conflict instead of solving it right away… letting conflict slide. Turning your head away from conflict. Contrary to popular myth, conflict will never solve itself. It has to be resolved. The escape route from all hell is solving the conflict that putting you there. Face it and fight it. Running from conflict won’t let you run from hell.
If conflict seems to be following you around, try soul-searching. If hell is stalking you, try real, authentic, look-deep-inside you-guts soul-searching. I’m still not sure what true soul-searching is. I’ve given it a shot. Not sure if it’s my best shot. But I’m going to keep trying.
Hell doesn’t have to be final nor does the conflict that leads to it. The decisions we make at this very moment shape the very next moment. The decisions we make today shape tomorrow. The decisions we make tomorrow shape forever.