By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
I thought I would make a suggestion for those who wish to pay forward a debt of gratitude we might owe our local police officers for what has been a very difficult few years. Maybe each of you might consider for even once in 2021 anonymously paying for coffee or a lunch for a police officer who serves your community. It might be a few dollars, but I can assure you it will make their shift just a bit more enjoyable–that someone cared and was grateful.
It surely goes without saying that in many parts of the United States, police, sheriffs and state troopers faced a great deal of unwarranted or unnecessary hardship due to political and social trends in society. While not prevalent everywhere it surely contributed to making the job more difficult and for many less enjoyable. Yet, those same officers still came to work, answered calls for service and did try to make the best of a tempestuous environment. I personally have not seen it this bad for police since the early 1980s and 1970s. If we are to move forward toward a better acceptance of other human beings there does come a time to make peace with the past and at least attempt some form of reconciliation, if needed.
I understand that the culture in some locales of the United States is such that law enforcement officers often have their meals or coffee provided as a gratuity from the proprietor. But this is rather uncommon elsewhere. There are departments that do not permit their employees to knowingly accept discounted meals. Admittedly I have been on the fence as to whether a simple cup of coffee or a discounted lunch actually constitutes a diminishment of one’s duty. Primarily this stems from the belief that a free coffee today might tend to compel a warning instead of a ticket for speeding later. But then again what harm can come from simply buying someone a Coke once in a while? Yet after having given it some thought toward whether to propose this idea to you the reader I believe a balance may be achieved by showing one’s support for the police, by buying the coffee anonymously, without any strings attached.
What I suggest is rather simple to show thanks. When you happen to be at a restaurant and are at the cash register to pay for your dinner, if you see an officer or two enjoying their lunch or coffee inform the person at the register that you would like to anonymously pay for the deputies’ meals. It might be easier to do this if they have already ordered and the bill is known. Such a present surely will come as a welcomed surprise to the officers, especially in that a person thought enough of their service to buy them lunch. In fact, you might see the officers leave an extra tip for the waiter, as it might allow them to feel a bit more comfortable with this form of payment. (For you on the job, you know what I mean)
While it would certainly be virtuous to buy coffee as thanks in any manner of speaking, I believe I must again emphasize that the thanks would be better expressed if made anonymously. Nothing is expected, and there is little to be contested. It can simply be a nice gesture without the pretense. And if you are familiar with certain parables or writings, it is kind to offer praise or gratitude, but it is of a higher virtue to do so without telling others you did.
If you could see it in yourselves to at least once in 2021 convey your thanks to those wearing the badge, I can assure you it will be both welcome and appreciated.