Monthly Archives: November 2011

By six, I’m referring to watching your back, or your rear. Pay attention to possible threats that may be watching but don’t show themselves. If you have a funny feeling like something isn’t quite right, don’t ignore it. Don’t talk yourself out of paying attention to it. It is usually your subconscious picking up on clues that something is wrong even if your conscious mind misses them.

I once sat on a jury of an assault with intent to murder case. A little surprising as a police officer, but the defense ran out of challenges for cause to take me off of the jury. The gist of the case was this: An elderly woman leaves a well known shopping mall here near Flint and proceeds to go home. This was around the holiday time and she had bought some items and took them home with her. Unbeknownst to her a car follows her all the way to her home from the mall; approximately 6 or 7 miles away. As she is getting out and putting her items in her house, this crook, grabs her, assaults her and nearly killed her. This is a horrendous ending to a story that so many people play each and every holiday season in cities all around this country. Cars full of Christmas items and no secure way to transfer them to the house, like an enclosed garage. The truly negative part is her being accosted and nearly killed for some items that probably had no true meaning. Was there a way of her preventing what happened? Perhaps there is.

I will give the answer in the form of a suggestion to those that will be out shopping during the holidays. With the advent of various types of sport utility vehicles; many modern cars don’t have a dedicated trunk where you can secure and hide items from view. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been walking back to my car from a store during early morning Black Friday sales and see car after car, full to the brim with future presents all uncovered in the back of some vehicle. If you have tinted windows in the back of the vehicle that will help a great deal. If you don’t have that, take a blanket or sheet and cover-up your items. A would be thief wouldn’t be able to tell if you have the latest electronic gadgets which would be in high demand or some Christmas trees or ornaments or something that would be significantly less important. Since they couldn’t tell and there are so many targets to choose from it might not be worth their time to play around with your vehicle and possibly get caught. If you can, park a bit out in the parking lot, not right next to the front. Yes I know this will make you have to walk further and does somewhat leave you in an isolated area. My point is that if someone is looking at you as a target and following, it would help to have some relative isolation so that you can see is someone is following you from the store. When you get to the car, glance in the back seat and make sure it is clear. I’m a police officer and usually armed, but I do this all the time.

When you drive home, glance in the rear view mirrors from time to time. Look for more than just traffic that might be going around you or how pretty you look. Look for vehicles that could be following you. Look for things significant or subtle about such a vehicle. Such as the color, make, driver and anything significant about him/her, bumper stickers, anything that may help you remember that vehicle if it’s seen again. If you do get close to home and see a vehicle that is following you, have a plan in place for what to do. Don’t panic, stay calm.

In this scenario I would offer the following suggestions: First, don’t go straight home. You wouldn’t want this person to know where you live. Even if you believe you may be safe at home, if you have an exterior garage or none at all, you leave yourself with many moments where you are extremely vulnerable. If you feel you’re being followed, keep driving down well lit and if possible crowded streets. Make several turns if possible to see if the vehicle keeps following. If they keep following, I would suggest driving straight to the police department or sheriff’s office. If you have a cellular phone you can call them from your car once you’re outside. Either way, this affords you some time while you drive to see if you are truly being followed.

I don’t wish to spread panic about the holidays and all the fun that comes with them. I offer these words as a reminder to protect yourself and watch your back. No one else will as well as you and your safety or the safety of your loved ones is your number one responsibility. Take control of what you can control. Pay attention. Be aware and always be safe.

Always Remember…you don’t have permission to Quit.

Jeffrey Washington

Perhaps you have heard this statement from others. It isn’t a new concept but I love the possibilities that it forces me to think of. I, like many others, has desires to do various things that I may find interesting. Most of the time I push through any inhibitions if I am truly determined that it would be in my best interest, but this concept makes me think even further. Think of it. If failure wasn’t even a passing option. If I would always succeed what would I want to do. I can think of lots of things. Here’s a short list:

1. Write a book.
2. Retire from the police department.
3. Follow my passion and earn a living at my own business(s).
4. Sky dive.
5. Drive a race car.

The list can go on and on. I have many thoughts that at times hold me back. Do you? Is there something that you do that you hold yourself back from because you are afraid to fail. Why is it that we are afraid to fail in the first place? Now that is the real question. Think about it. In our lives, we have many times, that we succeed and many times that we fail. Which have I learned the most from. By far it’s the failures. The failures leave an indelible impression that most of the time I don’t soon forget. I once heard a great passage about failure from Melvin Van Peebles. It was spoken by his son Mario, but he said that his father said the words, and I paraphrase. He said that, it is important for our children to see us fail. Did you hear that? It is important for our children to see us fail. If they watch us fail and see that we handle it with courage and character and continue to strive and move forward, they in turn learn how to handle adversity as well. No amount of success comes as a straight ladder to the top without setbacks. I must master my failures if I have any desire to achieve the successes.

I once heard a story about Michael Jordan and how he has had more failures in basketball than most average players have successes. Now you are probably thinking that I’ve gone and fallen off the rocker or something. Michael Jordan is probably the greatest player to have graced the court in recent memory. To achieve that level of success, he had to practice beyond his failures. He was one of the best all around players and that is for a primary reason. He practiced like no other. He went to practice early and left late and shot more free throws and jump shots than most players. He increased his level of proficiency far past that of your mediocre player. He pushed himself to strive for the best.

Let’s take another game: baseball. An exemplary hitter in the Major Leagues may have a .300 batting average. That is getting a run 3 out of 10 times at bat. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but considering that every pitcher is sending this above average player, every curve ball and change up and 95mph fastball and isn’t telling them what they are doing, it is easier to see how difficult a feat this is.

All of this comes down to one thing and I can only truly speak on my own life. Fear has it’s place. It can protect us and guide us. It can also paralyze me and keep me from reaching my full potential. I choose to push past fear and embrace it. To push past the fear of change and look forward to it coming into my life like a good friend that I don’t see that often. If I can embrace change and take fear and failure along for the ride, just think of the possibilities.

Always Remember…You don’t have permission to Quit.

Jeffrey Washington

My wife encouraged me to watch this video. It truly exemplifies the “NeverQuitEver” type of attitude. I want to share it with you. I’m sure someone went on to win the race and maybe a Gold medal, but that feat was diminished by the strength and character of one man.

Inspiring…truly inspiring. The determination of a young man not to quit when every essence of his being is telling him to do just that. (I Love It) I also love the courage of his father, to help his son through an obviously horrendous situation. I’m so glad that security guy didn’t give his father too much trouble, because it looks like Dad would have laid him out.

Both of them showed exemplary character in the face of adversity. Let me say that once again…both of them showed exemplary character in the face of adversity. I hope you catch the primary word: adversity. As terrible as I can imagine how it felt to be in the Olympics, favored to win, and have it all come crashing down right before your eyes, what he shared with us all was a blessing. I could almost feel his physical as well as emotional pain as he was going around the track, so visceral as it was. What was shown in the end? Determination Personified. The will to never quit no matter how difficult the situation. He may not have been able to finish in the way that he trained so hard for, but he never quit. He showed courage and in that he honored each and every athlete competing and offered all of us that will see he feat a true gift.

Always Remember…You don’t have permission to Quit.

Jeffrey Washington

As a man I have to admit this is not easy to admit. To some extent I’ve felt over the years that Oprah and her show were geared so much towards women that it has always felt strange to get anything out of her show or more recently these lessons. I’ll tell you how we got here.

I’ve been watching these classes with my wife Amy. The shows come on five times a week, which seems like a lot. In addition to these days, on Friday, they have a live Web Cast that lasts for about 2 hours or so. I asked myself when these classes started if I wanted to watch them. The answer was yes. It brought me to an early chapter in Sidney Poitier’s book, The Measure of a Man. He wrote about scanning through the channels on his television looking for something worthwhile to watch. He used the clicker and scans through the channels a couple of times before he stops and asks himself, “What am I doing with my time?” He spoke of having intriguing people as close as a phone call and experiences even closer that he loved to do, but there he was punching the clicker looking for something on the tube.

I asked myself the same question with Oprah Winfrey’s show, Life Class. I,  like many,  waste a lot of time watching network television and come away from most of it with an empty feeling. Does it really, the television we watch, enhance our lives. Sure there are some shows that make you feel great after watching them but they are few and far between. Lately I’ve been more inclined to watch  television as if most of it is On Demand. I either pick a movie that has impacted me in some way or watch a few shows that seem to add something to my life. Oprah’s Life Class appears to do that. She is primarily just talking to us, the audience just like we are students or friends. She discusses many interesting topics and I would encourage you to check out her classes on the OWN channel. Check your local listings of course.


Always Remember…you never have permission to Quit.



Jeffrey Washington


Saturday the 29th of October, I thought I would wake up and clean up the garage. I also wanted to finish putting away all the items that I’d used for the truck repair and generally get things back to normal. I also bought some special cleaner to clean the Mass Air Flow sensor in the truck. I read that these need periodic cleaning and that if they aren’t the throttle can be sluggish. I never heard of a Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor. As before, I looked it up and found out what it is and how to clean it. I figure I’ll do this while I’m cleaning the garage.

Next thing you know I decide to pull the number 1 cylinder spark plug just to take a look at it. It’s got all types of black soot on it. A definite sign of the air/fuel mixture being too rich. Makes a lot of sense with with those faulty intake manifold gaskets. (That reminds me, as I was cleaning up the garage, I looked at the old gaskets. I’m surprised my truck ran at all with those things. They were in tattered shape and just came apart in pieces when I took them off). The last shop I took the truck to,informed me that the engine is sucking in all sorts of air and I’m sure that was creating a mixture problem with the fuel and the high idle. Well I took off a couple more spark plugs and now I’m committed. Time to change all eight and install some fresh ones.

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned or was reminded of in this whole process, is to not fear trying something new. Something way out of the box in your personal life. Now it is good to research it and get all the info that you can. Once you get all your ducks in a row, Do It. Set your mind to have some fun and enjoy the process. There were many times in this repair, I felt like I had made a big mistake. This was as much a mental exercise as it was the physical act of doing the repair. It was so beyond my normal type of thing in repairing a car that it left me with an empowered feeling once it was complete. That if I set my mind to it, I could do just about anything. I like that. That is what directed me to change the spark plugs. Actually minus the spark plug wires, I did just about an entire full tune-up on the truck and if I can do intake manifold gaskets, what’s spark plugs. Right? That is also what is going to direct me to do some light body work in the future and get rid of the rusty parts and make it look more like new.

This is so far away from a few years ago, when my truck wouldn’t start and I had it towed to a shop, where they did a major tune-up and I’d hoped the high idle would go away then. It didn’t and I remember being so bummed. Another time I got a new water pump installed. Both of these repairs were in the $400.00 range each. I could have saved all types of money and learned some valuable skills and lessons doing them myself. When you know better, you do better. A great quote originally from Maya Angelou and often coined by Oprah Winfrey.

I’m glad to have gone through the experience and even more glad that I could share my experience with you, constant reader. Thanks for keeping up with my story and sending some vibes of encouragement and support. It didn’t go unnoticed.

Always Remember…You don’t have permission to Quit.

Jeffrey Washington

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