On Friday, after all of the public ceremony celebrating the end of his 30 year career with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Charlie Walker gave me some standing time to make this portrait of him.
Earlier in the day, a few minutes before noon, friends and curious public surrounded this officer of the law which brought out that amazing smile that Cedar referenced.
It was July 3, 1998 when I rolled into town with my first job on my back after spending the previous eight years on the right corporate track. On Tryon, at Stonewall stood two officers watching me fumble at the red light. I watched them for a minute. They were squared away in clean uniforms, their badges and belts glistened in the sun. It occurred to me that they were scanning me as if they did not know who I was because they had never seen me before. At that point I thought to myself, It might be a good idea to go over and introduce yourself. So I did, and within a minute I met Charlie Walker and Jimmy Horne.
Eye contact, and real communication led to the discovery of a friendship within the confines of a city where we both operate the sources of our living. You'd think that a relationship between a police officer and a bicycle messenger might be a little stressed by the differences in work responsibility. Not in this case, not one bit. From that very first day I talked to him, Charlie seemed to hold what I was doing with the same respect I felt for the job that he was doing.
Of course I realize that donning a bullet proof vest and strapping on the loaded .40cal daily to go to work requires a ton more testicular fortitude than I could ever imagine mustering myself. However, there is something potentially life threatening about being on bicycle in the asphalt nation as well, I felt like Charlie got it. Over the years as I watched this officer of the law walk his beat, interact with people and enforce the letter of the law when need be I gained an honest respect for the man and the position that he held.
Congratulations Charlie, for completing 30 years of honorable service in such a dangerous line of work!
*Blog Author's note to all fauxsengers drawing attention to my career choice in the greater Charlotte area:
Charlie Walker's replacement is Cooch, he is over eight feet tall and can shoot balls of fire out of his arse. If you are riding around uptown and see him, you may want to think about introducing yourself. Really talking with a cop could start a relationship that lasts for years. I know this for sure, I have already experienced the phenomenon first hand.