One From the Heart

I’ve struggled with how much of this I should post as it gets rather personal for me in a number of ways.  My final decision is that I should, and need to, lay everything on the line.  I may offend some, others might roll their eyes at some of this but this is my story, like it or not, take it or leave it.

Over the last year and a half I have been asked by a number of people in my new system, “Why did you come here?”  My usual answer is “I don’t have enough time to explain it all, which is partially true.  The truth of it all is though that most of the reasons that I left Massachusetts revolve around my tipping point which took place during the first week of June in 2012.  I think it’s time that I set the record straight.  Any statute of limitations I would potentially be violating should have lapsed by now, right?

In April and May of that year there was some major restructuring done to AMR’s Northeast Division.  The regional manager was let go and was replaced by a former manager at Rural Metro.  At first, it did not seem to have much impact on us, but I remember being at a training for my part time job at Six Flags and having to step out for an “emergency conference call” to announce the change.  It came as a surprise, of course, but a subdued one at that.  The next few weeks it was “business as usual” in my operation.

The first week of June had been a particularly turbulent one in 2011 when I dealt with the worst natural disaster that Springfield endured during my tenure with the tornado that hit on the first, so that week already carried a lot of memories for me.  During those first few days of June of 2012, it seemed like it was just about all that we talked about.

The first of June was a Friday, and that day passed rather uneventfully.  I worked the day shift.  Many of us swapped some stories, and we all went home that night feeling good about ourselves.

I came back on Saturday for the night shift intent on spending the first five or six hours of the night as I usually did, doing what became referred to as my “deskamedic” duties.  I parked myself in front of a computer, handled any scheduling headaches that arose, and handing out narcotics to my night crews.  Late in the evening, we again got talking about June 1, 2011.  I turned to my computer to pull up an email that contained some pictures from that day only to find a new email from my boss on a Saturday night, which was an unusual occurrence.

I opened it silently, and although I don’t remember the exact wording, to sum it up, it said “effective immediately, all overtime for supervisors is eliminated.”  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  In an email.  On a Saturday night.  I was floored.  Four days off was a rarity for me.  I was always putting in extra time, and made good money doing it not only because I wanted to but because at times I needed to.

I don’t remember much of what I did that night call wise, but I pushed through.  If I remember correctly, it was rather uneventful.  I went home in the morning and engaged in a long text conversation with the girl that i had been dating for the past six months.  Things were already on the rocks and had been for a while.  It was our second try at this and I was really trying to make it work.  In my search for support, I got the exact opposite of what I was looking for: “Maybe its better if we break things off.”

I was crushed, and the stress of work, and my personal life started to really take its toll on me.  I made the decision on the way to Six Flags that afternoon that I was done.  I did not give a damn how it happened, but I was getting out.  I was angrier than I had ever been in my life, and it really felt like the best solution that I had.

Monday the 4th, I came back into work for a day shift and wanted to hide.  I wanted to deal with the important issues and just keep a low profile for the next twelve hours.  That all changed early in the afternoon as I sat enjoying my lunch at the city’s riverfront.  Halfway through my sandwich I found myself screaming back across the city to the reported officer who had been shot.

A domestic turned bad, and despite the best efforts of everyone involved, Officer Kevin Ambrose of the Springfield Police Department lost his life that afternoon.  It was arguably the hardest call that I have ever worked in my career.  Thankfully, I was surrounded by good people who all looked out for each other.  Tensions were obviously high, and I don’t think any of us were the same after that one.

Again, I turned to “the girl” for support, and again, just got nothing. I had hit the lowest that I had ever been.  Since it again became clear that I could not turn to her, I did the best thing that I could think of and I got selfish.  I made myself the priority.  It was time to try and fix things as best I could.

When I teach about stress management, I talk a lot about a statement that Jonathan Hall, the ALS Coordinator at Six Flags used to stress.  He once told a room full of people that “your career is more like a sine wave than a bell curve.  Its going to have ups and downs.”  I needed that turn very badly.  I was growing more and more concerned about the future I could potentially have with AMR.  I understood what was going on completely when I looked at the big picture, but I started wondering if the working environment I was in was the one for me.  Furthermore, I started to question my future in New England as a whole.  It just did not seem to be the right fit for me that I once thought it was.

So I made the decision to make the jump.  The Summer rolled by with me treading water, taking time off, and working my part time job.  I did my best to avoid “her” at every turn, and although we ran into each other plenty, I can honestly say that I was never able to look her in the eye again.

On the career front, I took care of getting my National Registry certification, and recertified my PALS and PHTLS.  On August 1st of 2012, my application went in for my new job.  It would prove to be a long wait for that job offer to come.

There were a few instances where I almost just put in my notice ready to face whatever was to come.  My boss proved to be more and more inept, and I just sat by treading water and taking things day by day as I got more and more frustrated.  He even posted my position a few weeks before I had given my notice just because he knew I was leaving and wanted to “be ready” for when it happened.  That was a great thing to find out as I prepared to walk into my psychological exam which was the only thing standing between me and a new job.

Many of my nights were virtually sleepless.  I had absolutely no idea of what was around the next bend for me.  Part of me was excited.  I was stepping way outside of my normally calculated comfort zone.  Another part of me was terrified for the exact same reason.

Thankfully, again, I had some great people around me.  Everyone knew I was intending to leave and many shared kind words about calls that we had done, or just about our general relationship.  I shared the story about when two of the medics who worked for me dropped off a new stethoscope at my door to say thanks for how I had helped them over the years.  I don’t think either of them realize how good that made me feel, and how much I needed that.

Another friend gave me a straight up gut check, and told me I needed to pick it up if not for me than for those around me.  Again, I was so grateful for her words, and I did my best to heed her advice.

Finally though the call came.  I got the job.  I remember sitting in front of my computer at work on a Friday afternoon in November staring at a computer screen, pointer hovering over the “send button” for the email that contained my letter of resignation.  I couldn’t believe that I was finally doing it, and after six months that felt like an eternity, it was finally happening.

Those two weeks following that day passed in what felt like the blink of an eye.  I celebrated a lot with a lot of the people who had helped make it possible.  I had a weight lifted off my shoulders and finally felt like I could breathe again.  Still though, deep down, I wish that “she” had said bye to me.  She chose not to.  But life goes on.

Most of the first two and a half years of this blog was about my experiences in Springfield.  While my writing was a way to vent my frustrations in (not so) vague code, I do not want anyone, especially the EMTs, paramedics, and supervisors that I worked in S-Town, to think that I regret my time there.  The people that I worked with in the street made it such an enjoyable experience.  They are incredible and frankly, i would do anything for them.  There were many great memories created, and I still think about them every single day.

I also got to cut my teeth as a supervisor.  I was surprised and excited when they decided to offer me the position.  I was not the “favorite” when I walked into my interview and while I did not always make the right decisions in the eyes of those above me, but I always tried to do the best I could with what I had.  There was lots of duct tape and bubble gum some days, but there was also a lot of hard work that was pretty damn rewarding.  Also, let us not forget, if it was not for AMR and the opportunities that they afforded to me, I never would have made my way to the west coast, and been inspired to start writing again.  AMR’s belief in me led to these last 290 posts on this blog.

Through the good and the bad I had friends that stuck by me and helped me through a lot.  Some of them I have unfortunately lost touch with, while others I still talk to almost every day.  I counted on them and leaned on them for a lot and I hope they know that they can still count on me today.

So there you have it: the good the bad and the ugly.  The professional and the personal all laid out there two years later.  I am however happy to say that I have landed on my feet.  Sixteen months into my new career, I have an awesome partner, a great assignment, and I am still wondering when the honeymoon phase is going to be over because it seems that there is no end in sight for it.  As the first week of June rolls by for me, I count my blessings every day.  I’ve got a great family, a great job, and some amazing friends.  What more could a guy ask for?

I’ve decided that i am going to disable comments for this post.  Like I said, this one was for me.  I said my peace, and really, that is all that matters.