Good Morning Everyone!

- By Chief David Goldstein

How are things going today? Better, I hope. 

Is it me or does it seem that so far in 2020 we can’t seem to catch a break? Or, has it always been that way? Today I have many questions.

Please forgive me, but I have lost count as to how many of these ruminations I’ve sent along. One of my biggest concerns is that I’ll start to repeat myself (although I can blame age) and bore you. 

There can be no question that we are still under a constant barrage of information regarding everything that’s happening around us. I’m still waiting to hear at least one lighthearted story on the news. How much negativity should we be required to incorporate into our daily lives? How much can we absorb before information becomes toxic and assumes a life of its own?

In my household we’ve resorted to watching re-runs of Andy of Mayberry shows in an effort to escape. Now there’s real police work!! One of our other past times has become gardening.

Every year we have Lady Slippers. Some years there are quite a few and some years there are less than 6. These are my flowers and they are sacrosanct. Many years ago, we had some trees removed and the tree folks were not happy when I demanded they had to work around the flowers.

Last weekend I was walking around the yard and I realized I still have a lot for which to be thankful. And then I remembered a story from the then Nashua District Court. As so often happens, one thought led to another and so on. I thought more and more about the fact that we often don’t know what is really in front of us. Sometimes our ignorance (in the truest sense of the word) is valid in that we can’t be expected to know everything. Other times, our being unaware is by choice (enter Andy of Mayberry). In my professional world for example, “ignorance of the law is no excuse” …supposedly.

A number of years ago, the Nashua District Court had a maintenance person working in and around the building. I believe he passed in either 2005 or 2006. His name was Roland.

To look at Roland one might have seen an average, nondescript person. He wasn’t physically imposing. He looked his role. He was polite and responsive but he had to know you if an ongoing conversation was to take place. It certainly was not hard to be pleasant to Roland and he was nice in return.

Roland lived alone in very modest accommodations. While certainly not paid an exorbitant salary, he did make a livable wage for the time. He also liked to gamble and he was successful on occasion.

When people encountered Roland, they saw what they expected to see…a quiet, unassuming working man who took his job seriously.  

Roland kept the building and grounds clean and neat. He cleaned up, even after visitors had “accidents” in the bathrooms. One of his prides and joy were the flower beds he planted and nurtured around the outside of the courthouse. And then, one day, some juveniles who had been to court and thought they were “all that” decided to pull up and destroy Roland’s flowers. There was justice, they were caught and had to replant each and every one.

A little more about Roland. He landed in country (Viet Nam) three days before the Tet Offensive. His fire base was hit hard and at some point Roland was wounded. During one conversation he mentioned that recovering his gear was more important to command than he was. He lay wounded for some period before he was sent for medical attention. When he mentioned the incident he wasn’t angry, just matter of fact. As one of his dearest friends put it, “Those who did the least talked the most and those who did the most talked the least.”

What many do not know is that Roland was also a Tunnel Rat. For those familiar with the Viet Nam war, Tunnel Rats had one of the most difficult assignments of all. He told a story about following tunnels a few stories underground where he came upon a US Army tank. Apparently, the North Vietnamese had stolen the tank, disassembled it, carried the components deep underground, reassembled the behemoth and practiced the techniques needed to assault an armored vehicle. Wrap your head around that one!!

Roland’s service didn’t end there. He was painfully aware of the plight of Amerasian children living in the streets of South Viet Nam. As a result and after his discharge, he made it his mission to legitimately bring as many children to the United States as he could. And was he ever successful! No one but Roland knows the exact number, but I have been told it was around 14. Now that may not sound like a large number, but he was one person working alone. One child could have been considered a success. How many of us can lay claim to such positive actions?

How many times did we walk by Roland and not give him a second glance? All the “cool” and important people in the courthouse-judges, attorneys, police officers, bailiffs, clerks, plaintiffs, defendants, juvenile and adult probation/parole officers, and more did so. Of course, our acceptable (to us) excuse would be something akin to, “I have very important work to do and I’m under time constraints.” 

How many times do we fail to see what is in front of us? How often do we choose to ignore what’s in front of us? Do we rationalize just a little too much? There are heroes and villains all around us and yet…what do we do about it?

Take some time to think about what you see. Understand that you might not always be the center of the universe. Accept the fact that there are those among us who have paid dearly and yet, continue to contribute in ways we can’t even imagine.

Be well and please be safe.

Rest in Peace Roland…you did good!!