Wednesday, December 22, 2010

News to me!

I learned something today, just an hour ago, as a matter of precision. I was leaving work (the office) with a co-worker and the Boss caught me. "Hey, you got a minute? Do you have somewhere you have to be?" "No. I'm good, last night I had an early meeting, tonight, no rush." "Good" He said and motioned me into his office and closed the door as he wished my co-worker a nice evening. 'Ah shoot" I thought, this is gonna be another rush project he needs done first thing in the morning. There have been a lot of these 'emergencies' lately and they are wearing me out. My job description never said 'Freakin' Magician', but that's what I've been lately.
 Sure enough he had a problem he wanted to interject me into because I have an 'open mind' and can find the best solution for everybody. He told me all about it and we kicked some ideas around so I could figure out what he really wanted to accomplish. Sometimes this is the hardest part, so I ask all these questions up front. It makes it easier on both of us.
 When he finished, we slipped into lighter subjects and somehow I heard myself saying "Well, I just want to go home, have dinner and a beer and go to bed. I didn't sleep hardly at all last night and I don't know why." He looked at me and I could see that he was gonna jump right into the "That Fire Department stuff is sucking you dry" speech, but he didn't... exactly. "You know", he leaned back in his chair, "I know you love that emergency responder stuff because you thrive on helping people. I have a feeling that perhaps it's all the politics and bullshit that goes along with it that keeps you up at night. I know you don't get bothered at all by the screaming and the fires, and the blood, and the carnage. So maybe you should step back and look at why you do this stuff, and perhaps re-orient your goals?"
 I had a dumb look on my face for a couple of seconds, then I assured him that it had nothing to do with the Fire Department, and I truly had no idea what kept me awake most of last night. I also reassured him that I was stepping away from the politics and human issues by giving up my Captain's spot in 2 weeks. Life will get much easier for me and I can re-charge a bit in my new Fire Line Officer's job. Still he urged me to 'think about it.'
 I headed out and how words were echoing in my head about how the 'bad stuff' doesn't bother me. That's the third time somebody has said that to me and I always think 'how the hell would you know?'
 The first time was the day I went to work at 7am after being at my first fatal fire all night. It was double fatal, a mother and her 8 year old child. The child was one that my daughter baby-sat. It was probably the roughest job I have ever had, and no, you will probably never see the story up here. I should not have gone to work that day. I was a wreck. I made the further mistake of telling my boss what had happened and that I would be 'laying low' that day. (This is a different boss at a different job, it was years ago.) He said, "Hey, if your going to do this 'fire stuff' you need to learn how to shrug this stuff off. You can't let it affect you. It's other people getting hurt, not you. It's no big deal." At the time I felt like decking him right there but instead just shrugged and got to work. Idiot.
 The second time somebody said that, it was a semi-close friend and I asked him why he thought that I should not be bothered by the 'bad stuff'. He said "Well, you guys have the training, you understand all this stuff, you are in control, and you see it all the time. I guess after a while you guys just get immune to it." I explained to him that we are not immune but we do have coping mechanisms we have developed. However, once in a while we all take one that gets to us. Sometimes they come in bunches.
 Now that I have heard this 3 times I have begun to realize that people do, in fact, think we are immune. This explains why people take us for granted. They think it's easy for us and it never bothers us.
That was news to me.
 Take a look at this video. This fella is me all over including how he responded to an emergency at his paying job.
 No Boss, we are not immune.


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