There are times when I like nothing more than to put down the smartphone, turn off the computer and spend some time rebooting by attending a county fair. There is nothing quite like seeing new (and antique) farming equipment, walking past pens of rabbits and sheep or sinking your teeth into a freshly made corn dog or funnel cake.
After delivering a presentation in Syracuse, I had many hours to relax before catching my flight. I noted that the Great New York State Fair was on the way to the airport, and it was all the excuse I needed.
A Grateful Reminder
On my way to one of the “Ag” tents, there was a brand-new ambulance and firetruck parked for all to explore. The paramedic ambulance was beautiful, and I was drawn to it. I have a deep affection for our first responders, the police, firefighters or paramedics. They are good people who perform very hard work and are given far too little credit and, frankly, far too little pay.
Usually, ambulance crews, whether they are paramedics or EMTs (and yes, I know the difference), are rather youngish. Much to my surprise that day, one of the paramedics outside the ambulance was pushing 60, if not a few steps past it.
Anyone who knows me knows I am an inquisitive person. I love talking to people and hearing their stories. I said hello to the paramedic, and he gave me a sincere smile that comes from deep within one’s soul. I asked him if it would be all right if I looked inside. Of course.
Men such as this once saved my life, as I had a heart attack. I wanted to see the inside of the ambulance and once again whisper a silent prayer of gratitude.
The Courage To Be Happy
It is a good thing for all of us to give thanks from time to time. The spotless interior had an impressive array of lifesaving equipment, but something was out of place. There was a book on the bench where friends and relatives sit that was not at all medical unless the title, The Marketing Blueprint: Lessons To Market and Sell Anything, had some deeper meaning!
So, being a wise-guy, I asked the paramedic if he had just treated a marketing guy for a paper cut!
“Oh my goodness, I do apologize,” he said. “It was quiet this morning, and I was reading a bit.”
He explained that he had been in new product marketing for many years and for fun liked to stay current just to maintain his knowledge base. I asked if being a paramedic was his part-time work. No, it wasn’t. He had no intention of returning to that work. Then he said something quite interesting: “I always knew who I was, but I never had the courage to become that person. I rejected nursing school, even medical school. I finally had the opportunity to help people and, for the past four years, I studied and have worked toward the goal of being ‘on the street’ as a paramedic.”
I asked him if he was happy.
“Now I am at peace with myself, but if you had seen me five years ago in my business costume, you would have encountered a miserable human being. Yes, I am definitively happy.”
I asked him finally if the ugliness and sadness he sometimes encountered ever made him regret his decision to leave marketing.
“I have been given a chance to help people when they are at their most vulnerable. It is a precious gift, and I do all I can never to forget how much that gift gives me.”
In my newly released book, “Turn the Page,” I remind people that “when your ego interrupts who you really are, you tend to chase after things outside of yourself to find fulfillment.”
We have choices in our lives every moment of every day. Ego tells us we need this thing or that thing to be successful. Our heart tells us what we need to be content. I am so grateful for the paramedics in Jacksonville, Florida who followed their heart and saved my life.