Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. Reacher is a guy that anyone would love to be—big and strong and free. But he is also a little weird and autistic and not a part of the universe we live in. Maybe that’s why I’m fascinated by him. He had never had to deal with daily life stresses of family and obligation. Yet, he always takes on a cause if he feels responsible for making something awful happen.

I can relate to his feeling of displacement. He was the son of a military guy who then became a military guy, never having a home to call home, moving around and never settling down. The military was his life. He didn’t know anything else. He became a displaced, homeless guy after the military.

Although I wasn’t in the military, I was in a position with the police department where I was used to being in charge. Even though I was (and still am) a reluctant leader, I continue to take on monumental tasks and fight the system.

I once had easy access to all kinds of data. I knew just about everything that went on in the city, and would help get the right people arrested. When I retired and returned to civilian life, I didn’t have access to all that data.

I wanted, no had to, get out of police work. There are only so many awful kid stories, bodies and sex assaults that my brain could handle when I decided to start a family. It was time for a change.

So, by reading these Reacher novels, they brought home that I’m not on inside anymore—the one in the know. So I have learned to keep talking, keep listening, keep reading and keep in the know by creating a spy network. Sometimes it’s about connecting with other moms or grandmas in the neighborhood. Sometimes it’s about connecting via email, websites, blog sites, or other electronic devices. And, sometimes, it’s about connecting up with the seniors at the Rec Center.

The network reports back to me and we deal with whatever is going on. Seniors have the time to sit on a park bench, or in a car at the park, or lunch with each other. They see everything (well except the ones who don’t see so well, then they just ask what’s going on in a loud voice!) They deal with the potential criminal element by making them move on. Hey, they’re seniors—they have the right to be nosy and noisy.

So, maybe, like Jack Reacher, I’m just nosy, or I feel obligated to do something. Or, maybe, I get involved because I am a reluctant leader. Why do I think I can be in charge of something? Why do people depend on me? Because I project that know-how, harnessed with feistiness–although sometimes I have to call in favors from old cop buddies to really figure out what’s going on. People depend on me and trust me because I listen; because I’m not afraid to intervene–to take action; and because I have allowed others to believe in me. Thanks, Jim Grant (aka Lee Child) for creating this fictional character for all of us old ladies in the know.

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