I opened up my laptop and found myself staring at my childhood friend's mug shot. He looked like he had been through hell with his face drawn tightly and deep bags under his eyes. My mind just didn't want to believe this was the *Alex I knew, but there he was.
I hastily scrolled through the article which read something like: Alex, officer of the law, had been arrested for selling drugs at the housing unit in which he both lived and worked. He had been busted by his fellow officers in a sting in which they found drugs, money, and paraphernalia, in his personal unit. As a result, he had been temporarily discharged from the police department and a drug test had been administered on site. If charged, Alex would be facing third degree felony charges with a punishment of 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
I first met Alex in Kindergarten. The reason he stood out was that we were both exceptionally tall for our age. Whenever we would line up, we were stood next to each other because our teacher often relied on arbitrary ways to line us up, like "tallest to shortest." As we moved through elementary, we joined band together, and would eventually graduate together sitting right next to one another. After that I didn't see Alex for a long while and we lost touch because we went to different schools, but low and behold my freshman year of college, there he was, living in the dorms with me, and taking the same major as me, and eventually we graduated just as we did in elementary, sitting side by side because we were alphabetically sat, and with the same major, getting our diplomas one behind the other.
Alex was an all around stand up guy. His family was the church going military generations type. They were supportive and loving and Alex was the same. So when Alex became a cop, it surprised literally no one. He was one of those people it seemed for whom his destiny had been spelled out pretty close to his birth.
I called my mom immediately because she knew Alex. I told her what had happened to Alex and she couldn't believe it either. There was still a picture of all of us kids sitting on my parents mantle with toothless Alex in it. I didn't know what to say or do and with the sh-t storm swarming around him, but I just wanted to hear from him. So I texted him and asked him to tell me everything. His answers were really cold and vague and didn't tell me much. He spoke briefly about everyone in his life practically abandoning him and old friends not wanting him to babysit their kids anymore. I wanted him to tell me it was all a lie, that none of it was true, but he couldn't say the words. Instead he talked about how his life was ruined now and no one would hire him.
I wanted so much for there to be some tale of woe, some deeper explanation for how he had thrown his life away---was it depression, was it something that had happened to him, anything---but there wasn't much. I had to make this internal decision in my mind in that moment, and I walked away from our friendship that very day. Alex was a grown man who knew the law better than most of us being a police officer, and he still chose that path. He seemed to blame the world for leaving him, but he left the world to engage in several crimes which some very good lawyers got reduced charges for him on account of him being a "pillar of the community." The trust was gone and it was all so ironic that he could sit there with a straight face and arrest others who did the same crimes he was doing himself and throw the book at them.
Our choices as adults can affect everyone around us, not just us. Each of us has the power to chose not to do things that will land us in situations like Alex if only we do the strong or the right thing and chose what we know won't land us in a terrible situation. Alex hurt a lot of people who loved him and put his family in a negative light that they did not deserve in the community. Your actions don't even have to be crimes, but can be just as hurtful to others, so really ask yourself how willing you are to blow up your entire life....and for what.