While reading the ongoing saga in PG County last week, Dave Statter’s interview with Jerry Engle brought forth a quote that honestly, made me cringe: “When you are the best fireman in the county and you come from Kentland, I mean, yeah, everyone’s going to try to knock you off the pedestal.”
Although I have a lot of pride in my contributions to the fire service and I continuously strive to be as good as I can be, I certainly have no delusions that I am the best, and even if I were, I certainly wouldn’t make a quote like that, knowing what kind of fire that will draw on you. Although I am no psychoanalyst, it is this type of personality who we see from time to time in our business that really worries me. These types seem to exhibit a serious need for being the center of attention, just like with the clown haircut, the clown car, and the clown attitude. But there’s a big difference from being “on top” and being “over the top”.
There’s a reason why people can’t stand showboating. It’s a graphic statement of “it’s my world and you are just living in it.” Maybe some of you love Chad Ochocinco and T.O. Most of us (like I do) think it would be nice if they just disappear. Especially when you consider for as much talent as they might have, if not for the blocking of the line, the accuracy of the pass, and the playcalling of the coach, that talent is useless. If you think you’re a fire service God, think again. This job is as much about team as any job, if not much, much, more. A lack of teamwork on the field means someone doesn’t succeed. Lack of teamwork on our part might mean that one of us dies.
Personally, I’d rather be a good player on a team of good players, where our collective efforts produce excellent results. I like sharing that feeling of accomplishment with others. But being on top alone is, well, lonely. And when things go bad, if you are alone on top, regardless of how good you are, people are a lot less likely to throw you a rope on your way to the bottom. After all, you’re the best, remember? Let’s see how you get out of this one alone.