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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Doing What He Loved

As an avid and active supporter of law enforcement officers, I know all the rhetoric that gets automatically spewed from the uniformed talking heads that have the misfortune to be stuck behind microphones and newscameras.

"He was a cop's cop."

"He always wanted to be a police officer."

"He will never be forgotten."

"He knew the risks."

And, inevitably, "He died doing what he loved."

That one comes up a lot when a first responder dies while on-duty. "He died doing what he loved." Nobody ever questions these slogans, because, really, in the moment, you'd be looked at as kind of an asshole if you did-- but what does that really mean?

He died doing what he loved? The cop died chasing some shitbag through a slum apartment complex at 2:30 in the morning, all because the dumb prick was a wanted, armed felon and he wouldn't pull over to accept a ticket for a broken turn signal light? That was what he loved? The firefighter died falling through two stories of a house that caught fire because some stupid asshole kid was growing marijuana in the basement and didn't put the right wattage bulbs in the heat lamps? Who the hell loves that?

Even if you do die doing what you supposedly "love," does that really matter? Does that somehow take away the paralyzing fear and undeniable, irreversable dread you felt the instant you saw the guy in the oversized wifebeater turn towards you with a Tech-9 and pull the trigger? No, of course it doesn't. Platitudes like that are for the living anyway-- they're supposed to make the ones dressed in black the next day somehow feel better.

But I wonder if it really does.

I tried to think about the things that I do in my life that I love doing, and I couldn't really come up with much. I love being held by my wife, but I sure as hell wouldn't want to die like that-- that'd be kind of awkward for her, I think. I like writing, but I don't really love it, and I don't think it would sound quite right if I stroked out at the computerdfgjkdjhg;idgi;erag;agenk;sjdfnkxdg;dafkgnadskngdsa;kngfa;ksdjngkasdjlngfjkdabneg;

like that, and some numb-numb wrote an obiturary for me saying that I "died doing what I loved-- writing." Just doesn't sound right, does it?

I love trolling around ebaymotors fantasizing about purchasing old cars, but, again, would dying during that particular activity spur someone to report that I had died "doing what I loved?"


I read an obituary today about a "semiretired financier" who died while surfing last weekend. Last weekend, you might remember, the east coast was visited by a rather unwelcomed friend named Hurricane Bill. The deceased surfer was a newbie, receiving a lesson. Obviously, this is a tragic event for his family, but the extremely long obituary made the claim that the family is "finding some solace in the fact that he died doing something he loved."

What was that, exactly? Taking insane risks? Ignoring dangerous surf warnings? Putting his life at risk and callously disregarding the family he would soon leave without its husband and father? Being a completely thoughtless schmuck?

His children, according to the article, had enough sense to pack it in early on that day. I guess they weren't prepared to die doing what they loved, or maybe they just didn't love frollicking in the Atlantic Ocean during a hurricane.

I'm sorry, but it's exceedingly difficult for me to find sympathy for this reckless individual, regardless of whether he died "doing what he loved" or not. If you have a wife and children, what you love should be them, not pursuing your own interests in a thoroughly dangerous environment for no reason at all other than your own selfish enjoyment. Granted, police officers and firefighters put themselves in harm's way every day and night, but they're doing it for the greater social good-- there is no social good in surfing during a hurricane, whether you're a beginner or an expert.

So go ahead and die doing what you love, but don't expect a nodding affirmation or a funeral wreath from me.


  1. Methinks I've stumbled across a gem of a blog, here. :)

  2. I dated a guy with a Need for Speed for three years. He raced cars, had a crotchrocket- he once took his Audi S4 to 160 mph WITH ME IN IT.

    He's a good guy, but I'm glad some other girl is the one worrying about him now.

  3. I would think it would be better to die doing something that you hate.

    For example, there are days when I'd rather die than stay at this job for one more second.

    Why not be in a situation where death seems preferable?


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