The Ryan Report - Episode 219 "Wrapped Up in Death"
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We rarely admit it, but those of us on the job are a superstitious lot. With the risks that we face on a daily basis, you can't help but look for aid in any place you can get it. In the same way that, come playoff time, baseball players have a pair of lucky socks or hockey players put on their equipment in a specific order, us cops tend to have little rituals of our own. It's not so strange, I guess. People have been superstitious for centuries. Sacrificing things to the gods above and all that. Of course, nobody does human sacrifices nowadays... instead we simply sacrifice our dignity and common sense.
Now, I don't want to tell too many tales out of school. A superstition is a very personal thing. I, for example, have admitted to few people ('til now) that I always pick up change whenever I see it on the sidewalk. It's something that I started doing when I was kid â€" it's gotten to the point that now if I don't pick it up, then I feel like I'll be punished for it because.... You know, the more I talk about it, the sillier it sounds. Just go with me on it, okay?
Point is, a ritual always starts off as something that you just do jokingly. Maybe you hear about it from a veteran or you read about it somewhere. You figure, hey, why not? It's not like it's going to turn into an obsession or anything. Of course, like nearly everything that you think that way about, it soon becomes addictive. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you do it and nothing bad happens that day, you're pleased. So you do it again. Why not? It's not like anyone's going to notice, for instance, that you happen to knock on the Precinct door twice before you leave. Or that you always polish your badge counter-clockwise, never clockwise. And so on and on and on.
Then, over time, it becomes this strange habit that has a powerful hold over you. And because you can't talk to anyone else about it â€" because anyone else would tell you that you're crazy â€" it just builds up in your head until it's almost like a secret religion. Also? It's kinda fun....
Anyhow, tricky thing is, once you become superstitious yourself, you start giving a bit more credence to other silly things. You hear about curses or haunted buildings and, yes, they still sound looney-tooney... but, hey, now that you have your own little ritual, maybe there's some truth in it.
Of course, I'm just speaking based on what I hear from others. Obviously, there's no way that I would get as loopy as a certain partner of mine, who has a lucky key on his keychain that he's had since the academy â€" even though he doesn't know what it opens. Or as secretive as a particular homicide detective who thinks nobody has noticed that she has to put all her little elephant statues in a straight line when she first sits down in the morning. And I definitely wouldn't get as superstitious as a veteran captain who has to always unbutton and button up his jacket twice when he leaves at the end of the day.
And if you think that's strange, then I'm not even going to get into the truly insane rituals that I hear a very famous author does when he's writing a new book. All I'll say is that, in his case, human sacrifice would be much, much easier.
At the end of the day, I'm for whatever keeps us sane and keeps us safe. As for me, well, I'd rather not get into my habits (beyond the sidewalk-change thing). Suffice to say I make sure my desk drawers are closed before we head out into the field. And I might even do it in a very particular order. Not that I'm superstitious about it or anything. Although the last time I forgot to do it, I did end up tripping over a door frame and busting my ankle.... I'm sure that was just a coincidence though, right? .... Right?