Posted on October 9, 2014
At a Loss…
From the age of 8 until I was about 15, driving around town with my sister was a fun way to get out of the house. Whether it was in her red ’91 Pontiac Sunbird or her black ’94 Honda Accord, we’d wander around anywhere between Oromocto and Keswick Ridge, usually stopping for a bite to eat somewhere along the way.
We’d sometimes end up at one of her friends’ places, or even more interestingly, she’d want to stop in and see people at work. Not necessarily *her* place of work, however.
My sister is in the RCMP, and much like myself at my current tech support job, she gets to associate with many people around the province. Dropping in to say “hi” to people you talk to every day is nice, and it helps give you that extra connection with the person on the other end.
I was always “Michelle’s little brother” whenever we stopped at a detachment somewhere, but I didn’t mind – these were all top-notch folks that were very kind to me, and I actually hoped to be a policeman myself, someday.
Even now when I stop at routine police checkpoints, they look at my license and say “Hey, you’re Michelle’s brother!”
There were so many people I met in those years that some of their faces are only brief, fleeting images in my mind. I remember the names and nicknames, but what they looked like is somewhat blurry in retrospect. For one person, however, the memory is quite clear.
Probably only because it pertains to video games, but it’s quite clear nonetheless!
On one of the last nights I can remember driving around with her in early ’99, we ended up visiting one of her longtime friends and her husband in Oromocto. They lived in a PMQ, and although I just had to Google what it stood for (Personnel\Private Married Quarters), it’s basically where members of the Armed Forces or Mounted Police and their spouses can call home. They aren’t big, but they’re cheap and comfy.
In any case, the guy had rented a Nintendo 64 along with a couple games, and Michelle brought me along to give him a few pointers. He was considering buying one himself, so I brought a couple games of my own to try and convince him the N64 was worth it.
The idea was that my sister and her friend would catch up and talk about whatever while he and I played games. That worked for me!
He had also rented Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire and Top Gear Rally. I thought (and still think) SOTE was an absolutely fantastic game. Exploring each level thoroughly yielded some cool secrets, and getting every Challenge Point in the game became an obsession of mine.
We played it quite a bit that night, but he didn’t seem to be sold on it. He listened intently when I talked about what the game was like in the later levels, but even though he dug the atmosphere and the flying stages, I don’t think he was particularly fond of the controls.
We moved on to Top Gear Rally for a little while, which was the first (and so far only) time I played that game. There were some unique vehicles and the controls were pretty good, and we had some pretty fun two-player races… still, it wasn’t long before we swapped it out and played some Mario Kart 64.
Michelle and her friend watched us play and laughed as we kept taking each other out with shells and trails of banana peels. I really thought that this was the game that would sell him on the console!
We had a blast, and I recall he was leaning towards buying one as we were leaving. “Don’t give up on Shadows of the Empire!” I shouted from the door. “Keep playing it, it gets better and better!”
He smiled and laughed and said “Yep, I will! I promise!”
I really don’t know if he ended up buying a Nintendo 64 or not, but playing SOTE that night re-invigorated my love for that game. I went to Wal-Mart with Michelle a few days later and bought it, and even though she said “Wasn’t that game not fun?”, I knew that wasn’t the case. There’s a reason it’s number #33 on my Top 100 list!
Being a police officer brings with it a different kind of danger than being in the Armed Forces does. Although the amount of craziness in this region pales in comparison to what happens in foreign countries, officers here still go to work every morning with the distinct possibility that they might not make it back home.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an issue commonly associated with being in the Army, but it affects more than just soldiers; officers, paramedics, nurses, firefighters… even if you don’t have a job where lives are on the line, you could very easily suffer from it after a traumatic event. Unfortunately, it’s a very common thing in today’s messed up world.
The young man who I tried hard as hell to convince to buy an N64 would one day come to suffer from PTSD. His struggle was very public, and although he brought a massive amount of attention to people dealing with the disorder (and just how little help is available to those suffering from it), the court of public opinion painted him in a negative light. He had made some radical and controversial decisions, but at the end of the day, it was all just to bring attention to his cause.
All of what I was seeing about this person on the news such a far cry from the young policeman I played video games with, and “just one of the guys” I’d hear reference to from time to time in conversation.
He was a good man, and he went through something a lot of people go through. He did it in his own way, but in the end, it was all just too much for him.
I sincerely hope you’ve found the solace you’ve been looking for, Ron. Rest in peace.