For me, it was literally right out of the blue. After 11 years as a cop, one day I just up and quit. It remains No. 3 on my list of "Top 10 Smartest Things I Ever Did On Purpose."
Note: There are only six things on the list. I'm not smart enough to have made it all the way to 10 things yet.
No. 1 is marrying my wife because I would have ended up in prison if I hadn't. No. 2 is going on an LDS mission because I would have ended up in prison if I hadn't. No. 6 is joining the police department because I would well, you get the picture.
I'm still proud of having been a cop, but it ended up being one of the worst jobs I ever had. It was so horrible that I think every single person in this country should have to do it for at least a couple of years.
Hey, it's amazing how much less of a genius you are about something when you actually have to do it for a while.
I never missed police work. Not once in all the years since I left did I ever want to go back. I would have rather earned a living sorting through slaughterhouse Dumpsters.
Another note: Now might be a good place to list the similarities between the two occupations, but let's not. I'm happy we have police officers. I'm even happier that one of them isn't me anymore.
Lots of ex-cops feel this way. So I was surprised when former state legislator Carl Wimmer left politics and returned from whence he came police work.
For the record, Carl and I have lived in the same neighborhood for years. I like his wife. I like his kids. When I was his home teacher, I even liked his dog. I don't care for Carl's politics, though. I've never voted for him. He knows that.
Several years ago, when Carl was considering leaving police work to enter politics, he asked for my advice. Did I make the transition OK? Was my family happier? Did I ever miss police work?
I told Carl that our situations were different. Whereas he was planning on going into a job that people loathe, I left police work for a job that people merely found annoying. You couldn't really equate the two.
We talked about it for a couple of hours. In the end, I told him not to do it unless his wife said it was OK. Apparently she did.
Fast forward a half-dozen years. Carl is out of politics and back into a police car. In Gunnison. I called him on Monday and asked what was the matter with him?
Me: "And I mean other than Republicanism."
Him: "How'd you get this number?"
Carl admitted that his wife always wanted to live in a small town. And although he had never expected to be a cop again, Gunnison wasn't a bad place to be one if you had to. It was just the right time.
Time for what, I wanted to know? Time to be yelled at again? Time to be reviled for just doing your job? Time for crappy hours, loss of privacy, being second-guessed by the media and having deranged people threatening you with death?
Carl said he expected the transition back to police work would go well. Politics was just like all of that only without the uniform.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.