I have a most favorite coffee place in my town. Unfortunately, my most favorite coffee place is not close to my new/old house. It actually isn’t close to my former house, either. And you can only access it from one westbound street. You have to WANT this coffee to get it, and I always want it.
But Saturday I was in my ‘hood, and really didn’t feel like traveling just for coffee, so I went to my second favorite coffee place, which is a hop, skip and jump from house. The DH dropped me off and as I went in, I noticed several police cars lining the street in front of the coffee shop.
I also saw a police officer standing outside, mask on, checking his phone, so I figured as long as SWAT wasn’t nearby, and he wasn’t crouched behind his cruiser with firearm drawn, there was no situation. The dude just wanted some coffee.
I walked in to find one person ahead of me in line, and two police offers waiting for their order. Within seconds, the officer I saw on the sidewalk entered, along with two more cops. They talked and joked a little bit among themselves, and then the first two received their order and headed out to the patio.
We are all wearing masks, so it’s hard to tell ages, but I would say that of the three left, I was old enough to be the mom of two of them. The third was probably around my age.
And I stood there, waiting to place my order and I watched these three men. They had the normal police stuff hanging from their belt; a vest type thing on, and of course, masks. One was my height, but the others were much taller. Larger.
They were standing close to one another, sort of blocking the door out the other side of the building. I mean, I could easily walk around them, of course, but their presence formed sort of a barricade to the world outside.
And the symbolism of that moment hit me square in the heart.
These men, two of which young enough to be my sons, are the wall of protection between citizens and the world. They put their lives on the line to protect mine. They SIGN UP for this; their job is to protect their community. Are there bad cops? Sure. Just as there are bad apples in a bushel. But you don’t throw away the entire bushel—you simply get rid of the rotten apples.
“Excuse me, “ I said. “Are you all waiting to place an order?”
One of the younger cops turned and said, “Yes, but please go ahead. We can wait.”
I nodded toward the counter. “I would like to buy your order.”
And these police officers with their guns and their handcuffs and their vests… got flustered. Embarrassed.
“Oh no, ma’am. You don’t have to do that.”
“I know that. But I would really like to.”
“Really, it’s okay. You don’t need to do that.”
I put on my firm mom face. It was kind of hard with a mask, ‘cause it loses effect, so I raised my eyebrows extra high and said, “I KNOW that. Please. Let me do this.”
After a million “thank you’s,” they walked up, one by one, to order. As the second cop ordered, he turned and asked me, “Ma’am, are you sure?”
“Oh my gosh. Don’t make this weird. Let me do a nice thing for you.”
So, they laughed and ordered and thanked me again. And as I walked out of the shop to the car, all five were sitting at a table enjoying their coffee, and once again, they thanked me.
Their masks were down, you know, ‘cause they were drinking, and I could see their faces. And in their faces, I saw my son. And my husband. And my brother. And my dad. I saw men who must see and deal with a lot of crap, still smiling. I’m not sure how they do it, but they do.
“Again, ma’am. Thank you so much. We really appreciate it.”
“Oh no,” I said. “I appreciate YOU.”
And I always will.