My position is unique. I am treated as an inferior by the upper classes, a superior by the working classes and tolerated by both as a necessary evil. I am respected by a minority of the criminal element, amongst whom I spend the majority of my working life.
My character is warped and reshaped and hardened by the nature of my work amongst the mis-fits, the vicious, the ignorant, the pathetic dregs of humanity, the meths drinkers, the dope users, the violent drunkards, the wife beaters, the sexually twisted, the defilers of children, the criminally insane, and occasionally the killer.
In my years of experience I have seen, done, and been subjected to many things outside of normal experience of everyday life. I have been insulted, spat at, have been threatened with a broken glass, a length of lead pipe, a garden fork, a knife, a home made axe, and at one time a very good imitation of a revolver. I have been hit with fists, boots, and a head, and have spent time in a hospital after being struck on the head in one of the numerous pub brawls I have been called to attend to.
I have seen the aftermath of fire, accident, suicide and murder. The mutilated body of a twelve year old girl, the victim of a mans lust. The 8lb remains of a six month old baby, the victim of it’s parents ignorance and poverty. The charred corpse trapped in the passengers seat of a crashed car, the victim of a mates drunkenness. The drowned body of a suicide, victim of his own depression and society’s indifference. I have sat at the bottom of a quarry beside a crumpled heap that had earlier been a four year old boy playing happily at the top of a cliff. I have seen it all its ugliness, death from neglect, death from accident, death by design.
I also see the ugliness of life. I live with violent death and violent life and am changed by it. The trust and optimism of youth are quickly changed into suspicion and cynicism and I am poorer for it. Both in my work and my private life I am subjected to a rigorous code of discipline and can be fined or even dismissed for a breach of that code. Although on the lowest rung of the rank structure, receiving orders from many superiors, I am expected to retain my initiative. At one time I am both servant and master to the public. I am expected to be courteous, even tempered (sometimes in the face of extreme provocation), tactful, considerate, efficient, firm, authoritative, courageous, good humoured, and still be human. My greatest asset is common sense which is not as common as the name suggests.
I am expected to carry in my head all the legislation which has accumulated over the last 150 years, and keep in touch with all the changes in that legislation. I am a walking treasure trove of information, a tourist guide, a street map, a marriage guidance counsellor, arbitrator to all manner of disputes, controller in traffic, receiver of lost property, dogs and children, and keeper of the peace. At night I walk the lonely streets with no protection other than my uniform and wits. Always in the back of my mind is the possibility of sudden death at the hand of an armed criminal, a fate met by an ever increasing number of my colleagues. Yet I am scared of the consequences should I be armed.
I work shift work, night duty, early morning duty and evening duty. I walk the street for eight hours in all kinds of weather. My weekends off are few and far between. All this and then people say I am over paid. I am a Policeman.