Wednesday, May 02, 2007


One of the junior tactical team members is resigning. He's doing everything right, still working hard, giving plenty of notice. Last night was the first chance I'd had to really get at the reasons.

Recognize that being on a team is hard- your pager will spoil family dinners and kid's birthdays. You will show up, put on a bunch of gear and armor only to have someone up the chain of command say- "Go home, it's resolved." You won't be able to leave town on many of your weekends and scheduling a vacation can be a nightmare, especially when your team is short of members. Training budgets get cut, people get hurt and you will spend hours in an icy rain on a training day drawing a weapon from your holster and putting two rounds on a two-inch square and reholstering, repetition after repetition.

There are a lot of good reasons to quit- family needs more time with me; I'd like to have a life again. We've had a few protest resignations over budgets being cut and one over management oversight long ago.

So I asked the kid why he was quitting. He said it wasn't what he expected. He thought it would be fun. It wasn't fun. If something wasn't fun, why should he spend time doing it?

I don't know if I betrayed a reaction. Not completely sure how to react even now. Yell, "It's not ABOUT YOU! It's about getting the best people we can to keep others from being hurt." or "What did you think this was, a game show? A carnival? Fun?" Or tell him some of the good stories from before he came on the team with blood and pepper spray and shanks and psychos. Maybe talk about duty?

At first, I thought I couldn't understand him at all, but I was bullshitting myself. We all volunteered for the team and went through (especially in the early years) some pretty brutal tests to be and stay on it, and we all did it for our own reasons. Maybe to prove we were good enough. Maybe for the challenge. Maybe because we thought we were the best and we wanted someone else to recognize it.

And fun always has been an element. Despite the sometimes incredible boredom of an operation, this team is a pleasure (in the sarcastic, opinionated, irreverant and scathingly obscene and crushingly accurate way that people who have bled and sweated together can share). I respect these guys and I enjoy hanging with them. And I've had fun in training and in operations, both- the kind of fun that hurst a lot and leaves bruises and causes bleeding. And the stories are priceless.

So maybe I do understand the kid a little. Disappointed that his fun (or lack of it) outweighs the very real good that we do (or evil that we prevent, not quite the same thing). But it's not an alien viewpoint. I wish him luck.

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