Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why am I here? (2 of 4) and Where Exactly Am I, Anyway?

 So part one covered the reason for this 'quest' of mine, to figure out where I am and where to go next. I have a lot of questions. But I suppose, if I am to properly to include you, the reader in this 'thing' I should give you a little more understanding of where I am. It might also help me get a better handle on it myself.
 First, if you are a regular reader, you've already picked up a bunch of background on me and painted a picture in your head of what and who I am. ( Six foot, three inches, 210 pounds of rippling muscle with an impressive mustache and an enticing smile.  OK, so maybe not. How about 5'5'', 190 pound teletubby, bald, and ugly? OK, neither of those are correct.) In case you have not been reading the blog for long, here is a post I put up about a year and a half ago with some of my background. Over the life of this blog I have let other details and facts about me slip into the written word. You will have to go dig those out for yourself. Those little things help you fill in your personal picture of who I am.
 Now I am going to tell you something you don't know, because I have guarded this fact since I decided to start the blog. In a few weeks I will celebrate my 56th birthday. Yeah, so when I have mentioned here that I am an 'old guy', you now know that I meant it. Not that 56 is ancient, but for what I do, it is considered old. In my Department I am the oldest guy that puts on an air pack and goes to work. I can tell my Chief doesn't like this much and her tries to avoid letting me in, but I still love the work and can do the job, even if I get winded sooner, and that 30 minute bottle only lasts about 20 minutes. I'll be honest and tell you that I know these days are gonna end soon. It could be any day, but for now I am safe, healthy, and competent. I still don't have too much trouble answering the off-hours calls, but it's getting rough on me when a call comes in at midnight and I stay up working it, or successive calls through the night and get no sleep at all. I have to be a presentable professional person when the clock strikes 8:00am and there are some days when that is very hard to do. Let me finish this point by adding that I do not have any illusions that I can keep up with the young guys and gals, however my part on the team is to provide some labor, but also some leadership to keep the younger folks focused and safe. My hope is that when my last day comes, they will have learned enough to do the same for those younger than themselves and continue on. So this 'age thing' is weighing very heavy on my mind of late. It is the main reason I have decided it is time to re-think where I am headed.
 The second cause for the 'quest' is my goals, or rather the realization that I will never be able to achieve the things I had hoped to do. I will never be the old grizzled Captain with 30 years of experience dispensing wisdom to the youngsters in their 30's. I came into the Service too late in my life to get that kind of time in. I will never be able to present a class at FDIC, at least I wouldn't lay any money on it, unless they start giving retirement fund classes, and I suck at that stuff anyway. Hell, one of my goals has always been to just ATTEND FDIC and I can't even get enough cash together to manage that. Although I have drawn  a line in the sand and told myself I am going to get there in 2012, I really don't know where I am going to find the cash and I don't have much of a workable plan. These last couple of weeks, I have been questioning if the trip would be wasted on me, being as old as I am. I also had a general goal of taking my time and training and putting it to the common good by either working as a State Fire Instructor, or a Fire Investigator in semi-retirement. This first one won't happen, but the second one is still open and mostly depends on the local politics.
 Six years ago, I started a training log to keep track of the hours I spent in the classroom for legitimate classes. I don't count department drills, or classes I teach, only classes I take that yield a certificate or a certification. Yesterday I was updating that log when I learned that I recently passed 1,000 classroom hours in registered classes. That's 63 classes in 6 years with an average of 165 hours per year. This is in spite of the fact that I consciously decided to back off in 2010 because I already had a lot of classes, and I still finished the year with 122 hours. This is about what I think every firefighter needs to stay current at a minimum. Knowledge is power, knowledge is safety. One of the reasons I take all these classes is so that I can pass this knowledge on to those who lack the time to take an entire class, but really need the basic information and training. I don't want to be one of those old grizzled Instructors who teaches things they way they learned them 'back in the day'. I want to be the guy the gives them the latest knowledge that can be had. There are still too many instructors teaching bad habits to new people. I vowed long ago I would not be one of 'them'.
 So you can see that not reaching my expectations for myself is a big part of where my head is at right now. This is the first time, ever, in my life that I can recall such a realization. This is probably because in the past, I could always take more time to reach my goal, and I would always meet or exceed it. But this time, there is no more time for me. The clock ran out and I'm still running up hill. I am, to say the least, disappointed with myself.
 The last major point that brings me to this 'quest' is wondering how this is all going to end. What will the 'end of the road' look like for good ol' UU? Do I live out a long (perhaps too long) life and die in a nursing home bed someplace where my kids won't come visit me because I don't remember them and give them grief when they do come? Do I become an LODD for something stupid during a split second lapse in judgment or because (worse yet) I didn't back off when I should have? I know for sure I will never retire to a life of fishing, reading, and enjoying life. For one thing, the finances aren't there and I'll probably have to work until I die. For another, I have to be fully involved in something that makes me feel worthwhile. The Fire Service does that for me, and that's why I put so much effort into it, it makes me whole. I am quick to admit to myself that I volunteer my time, effort, and soul to the community because it compensates, in my mind, for something I lack as a member of society. I am not too clear what it is that is lacking, but I am sure that I owe more than I am owed. No, I do not know why I feel this way, I just do. It's what makes me get out of a warm bed at 2am, I fell like I owe it to somebody.
 In part 3 we'll finish up with where I am now, and we'll move on to what the options are.

1 comment:

  1. There are parts of this post that I feel I could have written. But holy wow at the amount of classroom hours you do in a year. You're my hero for that!