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May 29, 2013

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Cynicism: It’s What’s For Breakfast

"Cynicism, like silence, is like an old friend: it will rarely betray you."  And it is with no small degree of irony that the person who passed that phrase on to me ultimately betrayed me. Hah.

I've actually researched the origins of the word itself, and it turns out it was named for a group of people who chose to live a life of poverty, who were highly indifferent to others, who harshly criticized the wealthy and idealistic, and who generally lived in a way that could best described as "dogs" (from which the word “cynic” is derived) and who would also eat, sleep, and make love in public, such was their indifference.

(Please note! I am not describing members of the "Occupy” movement or professional bicyclists, despite the apt description. They would inevitably find this offensive through sheer association with "one such as myself" since I'm associating this word with "cops" after all; I’m just stating facts here, as I know them.)

It was very simply stated that they could discern friends from enemies, and would harshly criticize (or "bark" at) them for being so. They also felt the dog was a shameless animal (h’mmm), that felt it was not beneath modesty, but superior to it…and that they were good guards (another “h’mmm”). Needless to say, I’m sold on its membership.

Happiness, security? What are people thinking? People who trust in those also believe David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear. An illusion.

Cops know this, or at least they think they do. Everyone has their suspicions of course, but a cop's suspicions are his or her bread and butter.

People that believe in the inherent goodness of men and fairness (and even common freakin' sense) find these illusions to be a form of a mental Oreo cookie: A rare treat that they devour with eagerness and then desperately await, if not seek out, the next. Too much makes you feel guilty, but just a bite now and then? Heaven.

Cynicism, now…cynicism is a meal served thrice daily, with all the snacks you can stand in-between meals. Cynicism will make you fat, and give you an interesting sneer as a visually intriguing side effect. Cynicism gets you away from those cookies, and provides a buffet of bland yet consistent food that cynics feel, at least, is healthier for you.

For cynicism, indeed, rarely betrays you.

Think of all the energy you put into expectations. Sickening, isn't it? Goals, ideals..."justice,” God forbid? They are billboards on a normally rainy highway where the exits are too far between restrooms and the cops are in the median with radar and lidar just hoping to get you on the side of the road and have you explain the scent of death coming from your trunk at gunpoint, when you know damn well it's just the bag of garbage you forgot to toss in a trashcan somewhere.

F@$% "expectations.” When the bottom denominator is all you expect to get, anything else is a gift and what you expect ends up being the actual price. Enjoy it. Mediocrity forever, I say.

As much as I actually miss being surprised from time to time, it sure beats the alternative of repetitive disappointment, which is a serious consideration when you're in the business of misery. I am a fairly happy-go-lucky guy, a regular Mr. Sunshine, but even I have limits on my letdowns, believe it or not. And when you expect everything to let you down? Well, that's not just one less thing: That's 100 less things a day for a cop, on every level.

So here we are. What was the point of today’s exercise? If you want to be a cop for more than two years, don’t just keep your guard up: Keep a wall up, and put pointy shit at the very top of it. Expect the worst and at the worst, you’ll at least be prepared for it, and at the best have a potentially good time. But best of all? It eliminates most unwanted “surprises.”

Can’t handle it? That’s why we have a fire department, baby. 

Just a little more unsolicited advice from a heavily solicited man. Enjoy. (Or don’t, whichever.)

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