Fifteen years ago, I experienced a moment of generosity and appreciation from an eight-year-old boy that will be forever etched in my mind. On this day, I was sitting in my patrol unit at a local 7-11 convenience store parking lot, preparing for the start of a busy graveyard shift. The night was cold and blistery, and I was trying to shake off the tiredness from the previous day. My unit radio was active with the many calls for service being dispatched. As I sat looking into the darkness outside my windshield, a car pulled up and parked in a nearby stall.
A mom and her young son soon exited and held hands as they walked into 7-11. Before entering, the boy pointed in my direction while speaking to his mother. I quietly went about my business thinking nothing about the interaction I had just witnessed. Five minutes had passed when I looked up and saw the same young man walking up to me.
I exited my vehicle and saw that his mom was watching our interaction from a distance. The boy was holding a small cup in his hand, which I later found out to contain coffee. Before I could ask him what he needed, he said, “I thought you could use some of this.”
Deeply moved by his gesture, I knelt down and hugged him. I was almost to the point of tears given the innocence of the moment. By now, his mom had walked up and greeted me. I thanked her for the kind gesture and the hospitality being shown to me by her son.
Deeply moved by his gesture, I knelt down and hugged him. I was almost to the point of tears given the innocence of the moment.
She said, “As we walked into the store, my son asked, ‘What can we get for that police officer over there.’ I suggested to him that a hot cup of coffee would probably make his day.”
The mother told me her son used his allowance money to purchase the cup of coffee.
At the end of my shift the following morning, I cleaned the cup and placed it on the top shelf of my locker. I purposely put the cup in this position so it would be the first thing I would see each time I opened my locker to start my workday.
I cleaned the cup and placed it on the top shelf of my locker.
Over the next 15 years, the cup was a constant reminder that there are good people in the world who support me and those I work with. I promised myself that on the first day of my retirement, I would return to this 7-11 store with my cup in hand to enjoy some coffee. I will give a toast to this young child who is now grown up and say thanks for making my journey a little easier by providing a daily reminder of the good still present in the world.
The cup was a constant reminder that there are good people in the world.
Today (Dec. 28, 2022) is my last day serving others. Looking back over the many years, I have experienced the best and the worst in people. I carry the emotional and physical scars of my profession that have forever changed me, but for the good. Not all who have retired before me can say this. We all take something away from our experiences that affects each of us differently. One thing is sure, I never take anything for granted, and I am grateful for even the smallest of pleasures in life.
I have been involved in near-death experiences where I thought I would never see my family again. I managed to endure these moments, and looking back now with a degree of wisdom, I understand with clarity that the hand of God was always there to guide me as I look at life through a different lens. It’s a perspective that only those who wear the uniform will truly understand.
I managed to endure these moments, and looking back now with a degree of wisdom, I understand with clarity that the hand of God was always there to guide me as I look at life through a different lens.
I often repeat a saying to my family and friends: “There are no such things as accidents in life, only appointments.”
I always remind people in my life to be happy in the moment and know you are loved and appreciated. To those who know me, this is usually followed by a hug. I am truly blessed! I have my health and the love and support of my family. I am not rich, but I live comfortably, and most of all, I have many friends who are there for me in my time of need.
Thank you, Lord, for the measure of my wealth is not in gold but in the people I call my family and friends.
In closing, I want to thank the citizens of Fountain Valley, the Fountain Valley Police Department (Orange County, California), and my coworkers for their unyielding support which undoubtedly brought me to this moment in my life.
Blessings to you all and happy New Year,
Corporal Pat Estes