BY PASTOR TONY REA | JUNE 22, 2020
I Can (series)
Before resigning voluntarily and going into full-time ministry as a student pastor in 1984, I was employed by the Detroit Police Department for 10 years. During that time a few of my least favorite assignments included “sitting” on a dead body (waiting for the medical examiner to show up), traffic control in the rain or middle of winter, writing out precinct walk-in incident reports for an entire shift, and riding shotgun in the tow trucks. Truth be told, I did not appreciate that last assignment at all!
When working afternoons, parked cars were towed off Woodward Avenue during rush hour traffic. What was a legal parking spot during the day became a parking violation from 4 to 6 p.m. In order to keep the flow of traffic moving at optimal speeds, the DPD didn't just ticket violators, we towed their cars at right around $100 a pop—a lot of money for a parking ticket 35 years ago. What was ironic to me at the time was that “operation tow truck” caused more traffic issues than the parked cars.
Anyway, the tow truck driver would swing by the precinct to pick us up; and for the first two hours of our shift, we were transformed into tow cops. More often than not, the trucks had disorganized and messy interiors, weak air conditioning units, and poor suspension, making it a very bumpy ride. Besides all that, I wasn't fond of ticket writing. As a teenage driver I learned (too often) getting a ticket ruined your whole day, so I seldom issued tickets. As a result, I was on the receiving end of many ticket-writing lectures from my supervisors.
The worst thing about the tow truck assignment was being in the middle of a tow and have the owner come running out shouting, “Hold on! That’s my car!” Unfortunately, once the car was on the hook, the car was getting towed—that was the agreement we had with the tow company, and there was nothing I could do about it. If I broke protocol and ordered the tow truck driver to lower the vehicle, he would shout obscenities in my direction and threaten to report me. If I told the owner of the vehicle, “I’m sorry, your car is being towed,” he would shout obscenities at me and threaten to file a complaint. It was a lose/lose situation. But it was part of the job, and when my name was called, regardless of how much I disliked the assignment, I tried to maintain a positive attitude and not complain. Unfortunately, I discovered (on a daily basis) a non-complaining posture is a whole lot easier said than done.
Like the time a certain shift sergeant assigned me to the tow trucks two days in a row. I was not happy to say the least, and I made sure he knew about it. And I continued to voice that opinion even after the Spirit of the Lord convicted me to be quiet and “take one for the team.” I’m embarrassed to admit, I did not pay much attention to that spiritual directive, and I let my sergeant have it. Not only did my behavior discredit my Christian testimony (the guys were always watching me like a hawk), it also aggravated my supervisor who was already somewhat annoyed with me.
One of the main reasons why he was irritated with me in the first place was because of my low-ticket production. We didn’t have a ticket quota per se, but supervisors expected at least one moving violation issued per shift. I fell well below their expectations and oftentimes at the end of the month, my ticket total was zero—not good. From my sergeant’s perspective, working the tows were a surefire way of increasing my ticket output. So looking back at the situation that I had a negative attitude and complained about, I had no one to blame but myself.
Philippians 2:14-16 (NKJV)
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…
…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, those who have been called according to His purpose.