Ahoy, matey! A day for all pirates


It came and went, without so much as a whimper — or a good old-fashioned “Aar” to mark its arrival.

Yes, “Talk Like a Pirate Day” was on Wednesday and, as I was sitting down to write this column, not a single person had greeted me in the honored dialect of Piratese. Susan didn’t approach me with a patch on her eye and a salty salutation, Tricia didn’t walk into the office with a parrot on her shoulder and a “Shiver me timbers” bellowing down the hallway and, though I often receive obscene gestures from our graphic artist, Jaime, not one person told me to walk the plank.

But, land lubber, I digress.

I love pirates. Not in the way a 13-year-old girl might like Johnny Depp’s movie character Jack Sparrow, but I do admire part of the way they lived their lives. Open seas, plenty of booze and countless hidden treasures on tropical locales. Sure, the fact that they murdered and stole is kind of a downer, but I always figured I’d be more of a happy-go-lucky pirate — you know, that guy with the goofy wrinkled hat and unpolished hook on his hand that sits in the corner of the boat with the barrel of rum and starts all the fantastic pirate sing-a-longs? Take away the singing, and that’s me.

So I was looking forward to Wednesday, and I figured everybody else must be, too, right? Wrong. As I said, I wasn’t getting a lot of cooperation at the office. Well, I then went to the opening ceremonies of the new police station in Ocean View, and didn’t hear any piratese there, either. I kept expecting a “Prepare to be boarded” by Beau Biden in his speech, but was left unfulfilled, and none of the other speakers ever talked about the high seas or sunken booty.

So, I left my mental fantasy land and began to really pay attention to the speakers. Sure, they spoke about the process of building the new police station, and the volunteerism displayed by many in getting the job completed — but they also spoke about service.

And that’s what got me off the pirate thing for good.

See, as much as I do love pirates, cowboys and that whiny guy on television who goes around doing other people’s filthy jobs, the people I respect the most are those who serve. Be it the men and women overseas battling for freedom and their own lives, the patrolman on the street, the firefighter up a ladder or the retired couple who pour their time into one cause or another, I am completely enamored by public service.

It’s a village philosophy — that we each grow stronger as the community we live in continues to flourish. We’ve lost a lot of that mentality over the years. Capitalism has replaced the socialistic values a true village community relied on, but the need for a few to step up and protect the many will continue to live on as long as humans roam the earth.

Of course, much of the talk during the opening ceremonies on Wednesday focused on former Ocean View Police Officer Wallace A. Melson, the namesake of the new public safety building. Melson was 48 years old, and father to three, when he engaged in a vehicular pursuit on Aug. 21, 1971. He suffered a fatal heart attack that day in chase of a bad guy, and is now permanently remembered by the building bearing his name.

And as I watched his family react to the stories of Melson, my eyes scanned the rest of the crowd. There were police officers from all over the state in attendance — bound by a unity of protecting and serving, and willingly offering their time and unity to help the Ocean View Police Department celebrate its big day, as well as offering proper respects for the loss to the Melson family.

I watched the silent brotherhood unfurl before me, and was reminded of my time in the Marine Corps. Oh, I had problems with some guys in my unit, and some of them had problems with me over time, but we were always fiercely loyal to one another when it counted. To this day, I still find myself in random conversations with a guy wearing a USMC shirt or hat, and the guy could be anywhere from 18 to 100 years old — the only demographic that matters is the USMC.

And I got that sense from the police officers on Wednesday, as well as each instance I spend time around firefighters. There’s a bond — regardless of department, experience factor or anything else. Kind of like you know who. They’d sail the open waters, swab the decks and share their grog.

’Tis a good time indeed to be a pirate, matey!

---I would hate myself for months if I let this O.J. Simpson thing pass without comment. I lived in California and was working as a reporter when his trial went down the last time, and, like many of you, was livid when the verdict was announced.

Since that time, I’ve kind of enjoyed watching Simpson be treated like that flatulent guest at the party with the bad jokes and equally bad cologne. I kind of hoped that he would continue to just live a miserable existence without money and public adulation, but his recent arrest on a burglary in Las Vegas pushes him back to the news.

Maybe now he’ll walk the plank.