When Hubby was a young cop, all new officers began in the jail. The next step in their career would be to become a road patrolman. So, the new officers worked in the jail as confinement officers until a spot opened up on “the road”. But until that happened, they could get some on-the-job training by riding along with a road patrolman. Not only did it look good to their superiors that they were doing this on their own time, but it was also a chance for them to get a taste of being a “real” cop — at least what many of them pictured a “real” cop doing. Hubby did some of that when he was new, and he has always said that he really learned alot from just actually watching an experienced cop do his job.
Hubby was a road patrolman for many years and he was the lieutenant in charge of the third shift road patrol for 15 years. He enjoyed the work and had quickly developed a reputation for being very good at it so he was popular with ride-alongs.
But among all the ride-alongs Hubby had over the years, his most memorable and fun one was one of his first … Joe.
Joe was an eager young cop with puppy dog eyes and a self-deprecating sense of humor. When he started riding with Hubby, Hubby had only been on the road himself a year or two, so it was fun for him to have a “rookie” ride along and watch him do his job. Although at first Hubby wasn’t exactly sure how to take this young, eager, funny rookie who made no bones about the fact that he idolized Hubby! But once Hubby got to know Joe, and his humor, they got along great. In fact, we started getting together socially with Joe and his wife, Sue. (Sometime I’ll have to tell you a funny story about Sue and I eating cheesecake.)
After about a year working in the jail, Joe came out on the road too, and did a good job. But one of the things young cops find out, especially on a large county department, is how many other jobs there are in police work besides the road patrol. I don’t remember all the divisions Joe worked in, but I think I remember him working in Warrants for a while and he ended up as a detective.
Over the years, Joe and Hubby didn’t see each other regularly, but they always enjoyed any time they did get to spend together and they always had that bond from when they were young cops and Joe looked up to the “veteran” cop, Hubby.
The last time I remember seeing Joe was at their daughter’s wedding reception. It had been quite a while since we had seen Joe and Sue so it was great to have a chance to do some catching up. Joe had, of course, gotten older but that great sense of humor was still there and I could still see that young, enthusiastic cop in his eyes.
Not too long after that we heard that Joe had cancer, and we were shocked when we heard not too long after that that he had died.
Funerals are never easy, but are especially hard when you’ve known the person a long time. And apparently being at Joe’s funeral made Hubby vividly recall all those nights that Joe was his ride-along many years ago when they were both just “kids”. Because after the funeral when the cars were lining up to go to the cemetery, I saw Hubby talking to the funeral director. And then he came over to me and asked me if I could drive myself to the cemetery and told me why.
The funeral director had agreed to let Hubby drive the hearse to the cemetery — Joe’s last ride-along.
This was years ago, but even so it brought tears to my eye when I typed that previous sentence. I was so surprised when Hubby did this because he’s not one to make a “grand gesture”. But he told me later it just felt right to do that one last thing for Joe and he thought Joe would like the idea too of him taking him for one last ride. I agree.