By Dom Cioffi
Sometimes, the most compelling exchanges happen at the strangest times. That was the case this past Sunday afternoon while I was walking on the golf course.
No one was around and I had some time to kill, so I figured a quick round of golf by myself would be a good way to finish out the day. So, I packed up my gear, grabbed a cold beverage, and headed out.
I could tell when I arrived at the course that it was going to be a quiet evening. There were fewer cars in the parking lot than normal and not much activity around the clubhouse. After I checked in, I headed out to the first tee, took a few practice swings, and then smacked a drive up the fairway.
There was no one in front of me for as far as I could see, and when I peered back at the first tee box, there was no one coming up behind me. As any golfer knows, that is the perfect scenario when golfing alone.
I pulled up Spotify on my phone and selected a playlist and then replaced the phone in my back pocket. The music was just loud enough for me to hear, but not so loud that it would be distracting (even though there was no one around to distract).
I then wandered the fairways and greens in absolute peace and solitude — the fact that I was playing well only added to the allure of the outing.
And then, as I was coming off the seventh green, I noticed a police car up ahead on the road, right where I had to cross to reach the next hole. From a distance, I watched as the officer got out of his cruiser and walked around the back of the house. As I got closer, I could see him engaging in conversation with a middle-aged man who had been mowing his lawn. The exchange appeared to be cordial, so I assumed it was a minor concern on the policeman’s part.
As I started to cross the road to the next tee box, the officer began returning to his vehicle. Given our trajectories, we were about to come face-to-face.
As I looked at him, he looked at me. He nodded and so did I. And then something strange happened. Before I knew what I was saying, words began to tumble out of my mouth. I hadn’t planned on engaging him, nor had I any pre-thought about what I was starting to say, but suddenly, there I was talking to a fully armed officer of the law.
“Hey,” I exclaimed calmly. “I just want you to know that I really appreciate what you do.”
He looked at me with initial startlement, but then his face relaxed once he realized the stranger carrying the golf bag was being complimentary.
He stopped and turned toward me, so I stopped as well. “You know, I’ve had a really tough day,” he said with a hint of dejection, “so you saying that means a lot.”
“Well, I think the vast majority of people in this world would agree with me,” I replied.
With another nod of his head, he quietly countered with, “I hope so.”
And then the exchange was over.
I walked up to the next tee and hit my drive and he got into his cruiser and drove away.
Now, I don’t know if he thought any more about me, but I spent the rest of my round thinking about him. Golf courses are great places for contemplation, especially when you’re alone. The solitude of the environment lends itself to reflection.
I wondered what happened to that police officer earlier in the day. Had he witnessed something horrific during a traffic accident? Had he intervened in domestic dispute where someone was injured? Had someone accosted him simply for doing his job?
I thought about what a tough day at the office was like for me and then considered what he sees on a day-to-day basis. There was no viable comparison.
I’m personally not cut out to be a cop, but I thank God there are people out there that do the job.
This past weekend, I also gave a quiet thank you to all those people who have fought for our country. Appropriately enough, this was the same weekend that the new “Top Gun: Maverick” was released after years of planning.
Tom Cruise is back as Maverick, the fighter pilot that we all came to love over 35 years ago. In this new incarnation, the student has become the teacher and is begrudgingly in charge of training the top pilots in the world in the art of aerial combat.
This movie encompasses everything that classic filmmaking is about. It’s fun, thrilling, compelling, and poignant all at the same time. Do yourself a favor and check this one out on the big screen as soon as possible. It’s time to go back to the theaters and this is a great place to start.
An memorable “A-” for “Top Gun: Maverick,” now playing in theaters everywhere.
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.