“Phronesis” of The Gambler

This morning, good old Gumshoe awoke with an “earworm” echoing in my noggin thanks to Kenny Rogers of all people.  Maybe it was the result of some NyQuil I imbibed last evening to fight off a stubborn cough?  Who knows?  But the “earworm” persisted as I finally sang it out loud during a hot shower.

Inside the multiple chambers of my “brain housing group” I heard the redundant chorus of “The Gambler” as I engaged my throaty  baritone within the bathroom tiled walls:

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run, you never count your money while you’re sittin’ at the table, there’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

This was in my humble and contrite opinion, very sage advice with practical wisdom.  It was also a pretty good virtue to emulate from the late Gambler who “broke even” on that night train bound to nowhere.

On numerous occasions (in my gypsy police career) while in uniform, I answered the “911 Invites” into people’s lives.  So many of these hapless folks did not have “practical wisdom” or even a clue on how to obtain it let alone recognize it.

The multitude of unmitigated ($&@!) and mass confusion coupled with heartbreaks and sometimes bone breaks could not be adequately cataloged nor described by the retired Gumshoe.  You would think it was mere fiction I bet.  I know it was hard for me to work my way through these self-made human miseries.  I think I know how the physicians felt during the Middle Ages who donned plague masks to treat the afflicted.

I would often wonder how these individuals “got by” without adult supervision?  Dumb luck?  The grace of God?  A puzzlement indeed! Of course one could argue that it was “nature versus nurture”; social or economic factors; no moral compass or no compass at all.

True north was always governed by the reptilian part of their grey matter.  The compass needle was stuck on the same azimuth to perdition.  (I liked that phrase by the way)

Possibly they waded too long in the shallow end of the gene pool? Poor decision-making skills?  Lack of education?  Lack of . . . (fill in the blank)?

I quickly learned as a street cop to develop and practice compassion for each and every one of these folks.   You all know the phrase . . . “But for the grace of God, there go I”.

In my feeble way, I attempted to tend to their needs by counseling or by “cuffs”. Whatever it took.  A bandaid fix for now on a major hemorrhage.

On to the next “911 Invite”; conducting triage in Dante’s Inferno.

Too bad these individuals weren’t the fellow passengers on that railway car with The Gambler.  Just maybe, they would have picked up some of his wisdom and virtue – just maybe they would have got off that train bounded to nowhere?

Well, I think dear readers,  Gumshoe has put that “earworm” to rest for now (until the next one takes up residence I suspect).  I’m knockin’ off the NyQuil by the way.

Remember to love the ones who love you and to love the ones who don’t.


Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

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  1. No doubt the stories of the streets are real and you and I both know babe that to survive, retire and live our years of retirement is a gift from God where many look for that day to wave all the ugliest things of the streets goodbye and live in peace yet they die shortly after. 143

  2. Hey bartender, another shot of NyQuil over here! Ever thankful you survived the asphalt jungle into retirement land bro Gumshoe. I always enjoy reading about your street cop experiences…..forays into the crockpot of human ingredients of all shapes, colors and sizes. Who know what effect the seeds of wisdom you sprinkled along the way may have had – Lord knows there was ample fertilizer to insure a good crop of something!! As always…..Good tellin’.