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  • Writer's pictureTracey Lee

Freddy is No Stereotype

I have a friend, who I shall call Freddy. He is a wonderful human who does incredibly good work, loves his family and is generous to his friends. One of those thoroughly descent people who makes you feel all is well with the world. He has also been known to pour a substantial glass of wine for guests. My first social occasion with Freddy saw him provide me with what could have been a pint of wine served in what I thought was a vase. Hilarious.


But how has he come to be this good human?


When you see a person it is a human tendency to see the one dimension. That is, the context in which we see that person, the experience we have of them. But this view is so limited. Every one of us is multi-dimensional, shaped and moulded by experiences and relationships. So when one first meets Freddy and sees a police officer there is a tendency to move to the stereotype. Tough, immutable, rule-driven, distant, constrained, unperturbed and depending on your point-of-view an ally or an enemy. But no-one, not even our police are just the job. They all have a back story and experiences that shape their world view, philosophy and way of being. Freddy is no exception.


Let’s take his childhood as a start. He grew up in southern NSW, a coast boy. It would be fair to say that his parents, particularly his father, had a fairly firm hand when it came to child rearing. This didn’t stop young Freddy finding mischief and borderline misbehaviour. An academically capable student who was good at sport, particularly rugby meant he had friends, kudos and success. But one might say he had become venturesome and potentially could have been lead down the wrong path if a move to boarding school hadn’t acted as the circuit breaker.


And it did. Grades improved. Life settled. Friends, who were more like brothers, were made and only one thing interfered with the attainment of potential. And the source of this was not what you might think (girls, booze, drugs, crime). It was bloody Patrick Swayze! Yes, our young Freddy developed a dirty dancing addiction which was not fully alleviated by award winning ballroom dancing with the ladies of a sister college. He and an unnamed friend spent many a late night allegedly watching Baby and Johnny break free of the constraints of conformity and dance their way to freedom. Not sure if it was the theme or the moves that disrupted both Freddy’s sleep and study. Year 12, however, concluded successfully with a place at university in Canberra.


Study and then work followed by a career U-turn that lead to the NSW Police Force. Patrick Swayze and his alluring moves had been definitely benched.


Then life became real. In his first years of policing a number of events stood out and the first murder he attended was one of them. From his point-of-view he was able to cope with a significantly wounded and deceased woman. Arrest three suspects who were still at the scene. Gain a sense of what transpired and then was able to separate the trauma of the event from himself.


How? Not that I didn’t believe him but given who I am I knew I’d still be dwelling on the details 24 years later. ‘I reflect rather than dwell.’ Freddy says he has that innate ability to separate work from self. I asked, ‘Do you learn that?’ He was non-committal in response. Maybe there’s a secret course the cops do to compartmentalise the day’s work. Or maybe it is part of what is required to survive the work he’s chosen to do.


Freddy’s parents divorced after some years of stress. This happened just after he just married his beautiful wife. ‘The Boss’ as she is often respectfully referred to. A fairly romantic proposal at Sea World on the Gold Coast…I’ve seen the footage...preceded the big day. His mother sadly then developed breast cancer and her time was shorter than he would have like. Just before the birth of his first son, she died. Freddy was definitely his mother’s boy. And her loss has been hard to bear. He talks about her with a sense of reverence. A man can mop up a murder, deal with recalcitrant citizens but losing his mum made a huge dent in his life.


As did learning that his first child was going to have some challenges moving forward. Any parent who has to deal with the fact that their child’s life will have difficulties is thrown into chaos. ‘I didn’t want this. I was worried about what it meant.’ Freddy was most concerned that his child would experience bullying, that being vulnerable would make his boy a target. And in some ways it did. People can be awful. Kids can be really awful. Luckily the better humans balance out the rotten but Freddy’s son did have some pretty rough days. It is really hard on a parent no matter what your day job is or how strong you are with strangers. When it’s your child, the future seems impossible and there’s less objective reflection and lot more bleak dwelling.


But life moves on and children grow, life turns on a few lights. The future not as scary.

So how does Freddy describe himself? Fair, respectful, smart, considerate and prepared to work hard. Happy to do the tougher jobs and let someone else take a lighter load. Others describe him similarly…reliable, delivers on his promises, respected in the job and as a person. His philosophy summed up with this quote. Losers find problems to solutions; winners find the solution to the problem. He is a problem solver. Happy to see himself as a positive force.


His passion? Aviation. ‘Should have been a pilot’. Despite his love of flight Freddy has had to limit his travel experiences but the desire is definitely something he will realise when the kids are independent and the mortgage no longer exists. And where would you go? ‘I’d circumnavigate the globe.’ A pause. ‘And Sint Maarten in the Caribbean.’ A specific choice I thought. ‘Because the planes fly right over the top of Maho Beach.’  Aviation definitely the passion.


And the future? Again non-committal. But generally positive. I pushed a bit on climate change and the environment and despite possibly being on different sides of the argument we both agreed that human behaviour had to change. Death? ‘Not really afraid of it, just afraid of missing out.’ Same for all of us I think.


Freddy is a lovely man. He might not like that adjective but it really fits. He’s funny, intense, kind, a bit stern, interested in people, has a ball when socialising but needs his own time. And despite the overall ‘I’m in control’ persona, Freddy is as vulnerable as the rest of us. He can be hurt, moved to anger, disappointed in human nature, frustrated, filled with disbelief and despite all that, profoundly kind and optimistic.

Freddy is not a stereotype by any standard.


And one day I’m sure I’ll see him re-enact the climactic final dance of Dirty Dancing. I’m not sure if he will be Johnny or Baby but either way it will be fantastic! (If you don’t know what the final scene is I’m very disappointed…go and watch that film immediately)



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