Reprinted with permission from Steve Schlicht, a law enforcement professional and author:
I was trying to save some cash for college by working the nightshift at
the Majik Market on Big Ridge and Gorenflo Road back in the early
eighties, a masked gunman entered the store at 0130 hours and demanded
fully complied, giving him the 18 dollars from the cash register till,
the marked money in case of robbery, and three whole dollars from my
very own wallet.
took it all and then walked around the counter and pointed the silver
revolver directly at my face, while staring me down for what seemed like
both were there, looking into each other’s eyes, while lightning lit up
the parking lot, and a torrential rain began pouring down.
He pressed the barrel of the gun to my forehead and said to me - “Do…NOT…call the police.“
as suddenly as he entered the store, he left it - the door bell ringing
behind him as he ran off into the storm south bound to an awaiting car
which fled west past Taranto’s Grocery.
then, there was no in store video surveillance recording or even an
office phone, so I had to lock the door and then call from the beat up
payphone next to the cooler.
45 minutes later, a uniformed Jackson County Deputy and an on-call
detective arrived to investigate the armed robbery, only to end the
“investigation” by accusing me of stealing the money myself, a whopping
18 dollars, and filing a false police report to cover it up.
Deputy and the older, gray haired and tired detective, talked to my
boss about their hypothesis - based upon no empirical evidence at all -
and their conclusions, and then left the store to return to the comfort
of their homes.
I looked at my manager and wholeheartedly denied the totally bullshit allegations.
To her credit, she listened to my story (aka “the truth”) and then told me I was fired for suspicion of internal theft.
I drove my 1972 VW Sunbug home that night in the violent thunderstorm,
back to my last paid up month at the Lighthouse Apartments on Porter
Avenue, with no job and no more money to my name, at 20 years of age.
tossed my keys on the table, and I left my apartment, and walked
straight down to the beach, and into the water during the full fury of
the storm as I considered all of the facts that brought me to that point
I had my life, to be sure, the masked gunman never pulled the trigger.
That was a good thing.
men in uniform, the detective wearing the badge sworn to uphold the
truth, destroyed my old life, and there I remained in the stormy night
looking around at all that was present around me.
I have and will never forget that moment. It all remains as real to me as this very moment y’all are reading right now.
within that spell, the then and there a time ago, I honestly found the
answer to the greatest mystery of all and chose that I would battle evil
from that point on.
I met Steve online when I lived briefly in the Biloxi area. He's a law enforcement officer with a long-term and wide range of experiences in that field, and the fact that he puts his life on the line every day for the safety of people like me commands my respect. We've held many discussions, usually checking in on the same side of the issues at hand, in both Facebook and forum posts.
This particular post of his struck me to my core. I've talked over and over again about how we don't have to be slaves to our life experiences, and that sometimes that which doesn't kill us really does make us stronger. Steve's story is a stark example of that. Here we have someone who encountered our criminal justice system in a horrible manner yet who went on to not only become a member of it, but even flourished in it.
Bottom line--this story reinforces the idea that you're not just the sum total of your experiences. Sometimes adversity brings us down, and we have to acknowledge that. But sometimes adversity becomes the sand inside the oyster's shell that creates a beautiful pearl.
It's all in how we react to those experiences, isn't it?