Let me tell you right now – half the time since I’ve been gone, I feel like I never left. I dream about it every night - haunted by it really. A few of the dreams are humorous, many are foggy, and the rest are bad. Last night I dreamt I went to a call at the B/Barclay apartments for teenagers who were breaking into an apartment through a ground-floor window. It was dark and when I got there and one of them ran from me. I caught up to him and dragged him down. He was face-up, and as I knelt over him he pulled a gun and pointed it at my face. I grabbed it and drew my gun, emptying rounds into him. More squads arrived, lights shone on the scene, and no one could find his gun. I felt panicked because this was beginning to look like a bad shoot. And as the crime-scene team processed the site the teen's body shrunk down, getting younger and smaller until he was about 2 years old. I was shocked and horrified. Who knows what to make of it....I have children of my own and this was someone’s child…….but having these kind of dreams every night is no good. The only consistent nightmare I had about work while I was a cop was about losing my job as a cop - so now that that's happened I'm left with new nightmares. Go figure.
I have a few things to say, so let me bend your ear for five or six minutes.
What can I say? Life happens to people in unexpected ways. To briefly recap…On January 30th 2015 I’d dropped my kids off at school and was working out at home, prior to beginning my shift. This was my daily routine, but five minutes into my workout I felt chest-tightness. I rested for an hour, showered and headed to work. On the way I called my wife (who is a nurse) and she told me to go to the hospital. I told her I felt OK – we argued – and finally I said I would go.
I headed to work anyway, and was going to call her and reassure her that if I felt sick again I’d see the doctor, but as I pulled into the parking lot I got a text: “I’m here – WHERE ARE YOU??” She’d left her work and went to meet me at Urgent Care. If you know my wife then you’d know I was in big trouble. I texted back “almost there” and hauled butt to meet her. The next seven days of exams, a stress test, visits with the cardiologist, an angiogram and a CAT scan resulted in: a stent in the left anterior descending artery AKA “The Widowmaker” for a 90% blockage; and the discovery of an aortic aneurysm near the top of my heart.
So it’s true: Married men live longer; and listening to my wife likely saved my life. The doctor recommended I refrain from “heavy lifting and contact sports.”
I retired from police work after 14 short years on March 6th. It was a good run with Maplewood Police – 3 years patrol, 7 years detective, 4 years sergeant. Seven years working as a corrections officer prior to being a cop.
This left me with the essential question: How do I support my family? I sorted through the options….when I was a detective I learned to leave every option on the table, so I imagined the possibilities: I could work as an investigator for an insurance company or financial institution, or work at Cabela’s, or water plants at Bachman’s, or become a realtor like my father did when he retired from police work. Every option I considered had its upsides and downsides.
Fate intervened and I got lucky. I’d been a wear-tester for ALTAI the previous fall, and little did I realize how that would play into a new career path.
In Fall 2014 I was walking past the conference room at the PD and was pulled in by the patrol commander. He introduced Don White as the Outreach Director for ALTAI, and asked if I was interested in being a wear-tester. I’d worn boots by a variety of name-brand manufacturers for 21 years. I’d worn boots which felt clunky; boots with laces that kept coming untied; boots which fell apart quickly and boots that weren’t waterproof. My feet would sweat during the day in the office, and freeze in the winter even while wearing insulated boots.
The soles of my current boots were smoothed out and with winter approaching I was envisioning disaster on an icy sidewalk somewhere. I agreed to be a wear-tester and a few days later a pair of tall black ALTAI™ boots were delivered to my office.
I put them on and was immediately surprised at the “tennis shoe” feel of them. Very comfortable, and very lightweight. I’d expected the uncomfortable necessity of having to “break-in” the boots and was pleasantly surprised. Moreover, when winter came, they were sure-footed and for the first time in 14 years of law enforcement my feet didn’t freeze. Simply amazing.
Don emailed a request for feedback, which I was happy to provide, and then in early January I assisted Don with arranging a sales event at the police department for the other officers. Once the sales event concluded I believed that would also conclude business with Don.
Incredibly, Don contacted me to discuss future possibilities when he learned of my diagnosis and intent to retire; and so as of June 1st I’ve been marketing for ALTAI™ - and having fun doing it! I work hard to help a local company expand into law enforcement retail markets, conduct outreach to police agencies, attend tradeshows and coordinate our participation with charitable law enforcement events. I never imagined working for a company where creativity is encouraged, ideas are supported, hard work rewarded and the product is top-shelf.
I could not have imagined a more fortunate outcome on the day I got my diagnosis, and being grateful for the opportunity to work at ALTAI™ is an understatement. In the face of my new career I expect the bad dreams will fade away…replaced by dreams of opportunity.
- Buddy Martin
Altai's new team member!