Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Shave and a Haircut

You're only as good as your last haircut.

Haircuts. Since returning to law enforcement in 1991 I have had to be conscious of the length of my hair. You would think that the sort of military-style cut I've come to prefer (anything else suffers under a bike helmet) would mean I could walk in almost anywhere and get what I need. But I say nay nay! I've become something of a barbershop vagabond.

In Northglenn, I visited a classic barbershop that was walking distance from the house. I tried to go in the morning - the liquid lunches the "stylists" consumed (if they weren't nipping between cuts) made the afternoon risky business. The cuts were a little erratic, too, no matter when I arrived.

Wandering the Dupont Circle neighborhood in DC, I ducked into a salon. The haircut, bestowed by a small woman speaking Vietnamese at high-speed to someone across the room, was fabulous. It started several years visiting Aveda joints. I met a stylist in one who helped me tremendously to flesh out fictional police sergeant Amy Painter. But, keeping appointments on hectic days off proved difficult.

Which eventually led me to Roosters at Colorado Mills. Rich wood tones, full-service stations and the offer of water or soft drinks on arrival. Walk in without an appointment - they pull up my profile so I don't have to remember if I prefer a two or a three. I glanced at the price list....

"Professional Hero Cut." Their regular cut, discounted for Armed Forces, police and firefighters. I told them I'm a writer.  

This week someone called to tell us he'd just shot someone (it turned out to be false). As a bevy of young police officers set up on the house, one of the SWAT guys organized the inner perimeter and established an immediate action team. What is that? If shooting starts in earnest they move to the sound of the guns. Hero? The men and women up close - absolutely.

That same night, probably as I was driving by in my Tacoma on the way home, a man was shot to death at a hotel. An acting supervisor (a veteran with service in Afghanistan) rushed to the scene to organize the response and begin the investigation. His relative inexperience didn't stop him from stepping up, being accountable.... Leading. In our little world courage takes many forms.

The next night, another shooting. Two officers who were already off duty (both fathers...working on Father's Day) ran out of the station, got into a police car and rushed into the fray. The suspect was found at a convenience store. Another response team formed, with many of the same individuals as the night before. The possibility of a person hiding in the store became obvious. A group of cops enter. Outside, officers discuss their "fumble" point - where they might retreat to in the event someone starts shooting at them. They decide they can't move because other officers behind them would be vulnerable. They will have to stand their ground. Those  folks should get $5 off on their next haircut.

I am surrounded by brave men and women who risk a great deal in the service of their community. They are thoughtful, bright and physically imposing people who work long, erratic schedules. Every year several are injured doing a difficult job.

Professional Hero. I've met a lot of them.

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