SEPTEMBER 7, 2007
MISTAKES, I'VE MADE A FEW
Most people have made a mistake or two in their lives, and I'm no exception. Hell, you could probably say I've made more than my share of mistakes, and I'm pretty sure my ex-wife would be happy to back that up – not that the woman's Mother Teresa or anything. Anyhow, the point is everyone I know has messed up at some point. Sometimes it's a big deal, sometimes it's not.
Of course for cops on the job, mistakes can be a very big deal. Even a small mistake could mean a guilty man walks or an innocent person gets killed. In this line of work, mistakes are potentially life-threatening. They're also, unfortunately, a fact of life. A misspelling on a speeding ticket and Mr. Leadfoot and his Ferrari go free. An improperly handled DNA sample and a murder case gets thrown out. Clerical mistakes like that happen all the time. It's annoying, but it's not the end of the world. There's a whole lot of worse mistakes people can, and do, make.
But if you're going to last on the force, you've got to learn how to make a mistake, beat yourself up about it, then get over it and get on with the job. If we couldn't do that, we couldn't keep being cops, because there are going be bad days and there are going to be days you screw things up. Happens to everyone. You've got to learn how to deal with it. The important thing is not to be harder on yourself than you need to be, or you end up afraid to follow your instincts, and doubting whether you even deserve to carry a badge. And the last thing you want in this job is to doubt your decision-making skills or to be afraid of acting – you do that, you could end up dead. Situational paralysis, they call it. It's a fancy way of saying you're so scared of screwing up that you're like a deer in headlights.
We all try to do everything we can – and I don't mean just cops, but everyone – to avoid making mistakes. But no one's perfect, no one can go through life without messing up sometimes. Or a lot of times. I guess the important thing is to do what you can to fix your mistakes, or to learn from them. Sounds easy enough, but I don't have to tell you that not everyone out there is doing it. If everyone tried to fix what they've done wrong instead of trying to pretend it never happened, I bet this world would be a whole lot different.
I have to say, as nutty as the guy can be, I had to admire that when Monk thought he had sent the wrong guy away he did everything he could think of to try and make things right. Not everyone cares so much when they make a mistake. Maybe it's because most of us are more used to it than Monk. Made me think about the mistakes I've made, whether I've done much to try to repair the damage. I'm not sure I'm so good at it. But I've tried to learn from them at least. There are a few mistakes I can say, without a doubt, I'll never make again. And most of them involve women.