by Dr. David Swim

With the World Series in full swing, the focus of the nation is on the pentagonal rubber slab known as “Home.”  For the ideal game the pitcher could hurl toward home plate a minimum of 81 pitches for 81 collective strikes retiring the opposing side with three up and three down for each of 9 innings. However, if by chance the batter flied out with the first pitch thrown toward home, perfection could be reached with 27 pitches. Furthermore, suspended above home is the imaginary rectangle that potentially changes with the size of the batter, known as the batters box. Whether or not the ball is within the batters box is subject to the interpretation of the pitcher, the batter, the fans, but ultimately the umpire. Anchored behind home, the catcher will usually handle the ball more often than anyone on the field, including the pitcher, since every pitch crosses home plate (hopefully) and any defensive play at home plate generally includes the catcher.

As we watch football played out every week- which used to just be on weekends- home field sometimes presents an advantage, depending on the fans, and well, I guess the home locker room is better than that of the opposition. The season record and final total of points scored in each game can impact whether the team will be home for the play offs during the holiday season. It is preferable to be playing at home for the Holidays if you are in the NFL – not just home, where you reside- for the Holidays.

As we approach the holiday season, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years days, tend to focus on Home. Thus is heard the refrain, “Home for the Holidays.” While attending the university in my youth, the discussion centered around if one was going “home” for the holidays, which so often depended on distance, affluence, and/or a reason to go home. Which leads to the question, will you be “home” for the holidays, or due to the nature of your employment will you be at work for the holidays? But then again, if work is actually home, then you could be theoretically “home” for the Holidays if not physically within the walls of your house.

Which then brings us to the actual definition of home? Webster and Wikipedia have a variety of descriptions for home, which could be anything from the rubber pentagon on a baseball diamond, to the chateau of the rich or the minimal dwelling of the struggling. When we are single, home has a different meaning that that of married with dependents. Perhaps, home is where the heart is, depending on where you hang your metaphorical heart, because we know that your heart is ensconced behind your ribs between your lungs. When one is on the road, it is assumed that they are away from home, yet on an annual basis they could live more in a motel than his or her home.

By now you wonder where I am going with this diatribe, and before you hang up, let me bring the point home (there’s that word again). We face a true crisis at home, and it is not whether or not the ball is in the batters box, yet the World Series will generate more emotion and TV time than we could ever muster for a City Council or Board of Supervisors meeting. The crisis that we face as public safety employees is that the home town we service, too often, is not our home. You see, we have generally been disenfranchised from living in the home town that we service, because we cannot afford to live there or choose not to live there. Most of us commute from the home town in which we live to the home town in which we serve the public. Furthermore, often we serve in communities where the environment is not what we want for our kids, yet will do to provide a living. Other times, we serve in communities in which we can’t afford to buy a home. Yet determined to obtain the Jeffersonian ideal of property ownership, we trade the comforts and promise of home ownership with the tedious and tenacious demands of commuting.

Thus, if one were to review the PTA, Commissions and Boards, and other tapestries of public involvement, we would find that we are not part of the social fabric of the community that we serve. “No,” better said, like mercenaries of a foreign legion, we come into work, armor up for the shift, and then commute back to home. What this has resulted in is public service by employees that are truly not vested in the community they serve. In fact, they hustle home to another city to make the little league or soccer game for their kids, or serve as coaches and umpires.

Now, back to the original question, “where are you running to?” Home, “where the heart is,” being your family and loved ones. Or home where your pay check is, being the other family that we develop in service to the public. In fact, while we actually enjoy the blessing of two families – that at home and that at work – we need to remember that one is merely employment. It puts bread on the table, makes the house payment, and hopefully provides a better standard of living every year that we may mature chronologically.

 The “real home “builds societies, procreates our species and most of all, should provide a place where the heart can safely reside. A journal entry for a very busy businessman who took a day off work to take his young son fishing read, “Went fishing, wasted the day.”  The journal entry for the son read “Greatest day of my life, went fishing with my dad.” I guess the success of the day depended on the perspective of the writer, or whether home was where the heart is.

As we approach the holiday season, let us properly identify the priorities that we should give to our respective homes. We will have the employment home for at least thirty years. Sometimes our sphere of influence in the home of our children is but 16-17 years. Perfect games are seldom pitched, but they can be. We can play the game without any player except the pitcher and catcher, if they are good enough. The umpire behind home might call the strikes and balls, but the true umpire of life will eventually call balls and strikes on the quality of your home. Make sure you are running the right direction. May you enjoy the best ever holidays of your life.