Who’s better? Me? You? I’m better, they’re better, you’re better, the better man wins! Better yet, let’s make everybody better.
I’ve never been a competitive person. I like to win, and like it when my favorite teams win, but I really don’t get too unraveled when I or they don’t.
I do have to admit, it’s good being a sports fan in New England, the Patriots are winners, usually, and it was sweet when the Celtics won the NBA Championship, and the Red Sox recent success doesn’t suck, but my favorite was when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011. I do get a little more competitive when I’m on the ice, but manage to resume my mild mannered Medic routine when I get off the ice.
I’ll never forget one game when I was playing junior hockey. A little shit was flying down the boards toward the goal, and the big galoot defenseman was the only thing between him and our goalie. I may be big, but I definitely ain’t fast, so I positioned myself in the right spot and made the kid go behind the net. I had a chance to crush him into the boards, but I outweighed him by fifty pounds and just harassed him with my stick instead. The little bastard snuck around the net and snuck one behind our goalie. And if that were not bad enough, he laughed.
Next shift same thing was happening, and he tried it again, and I crushed him this time. I didn’t laugh when they carried him off the ice, and neither did he, but he definitely did not score. I may not be all that competitive, but a guy’s got to do what he’s got to do.
Years later while watching Saving Private Ryan, in one of the movie’s pivotal moments one of the soldiers shoots a German soldier who he had let go earlier in the movie. It was symbolic of the death of innocence in the movie, and I had a flashback to my own little experience. Art imitates life, I suppose.
Firefighters are a competitive bunch, and I went along with all of that for ten years but my heart was never really in it. I knew I was good, and that was enough. I cannot be great at everything, but I am pretty good a lot of stuff, and might be great at one or two things, but there will always be somebody who does something better than me. And I’m okay with that. I’m done crushing people into the boards, it just doesn’t feel very good.
I’ve found my experiences in EMS more satisfying that firefighting, and maybe the lack of constant competition is a big reason for that. There is no need to prove I’m better, or stronger, or faster or smarter than anybody else. The only one who matters is the person I’m taking care of, and they just want somebody who cares, usually.
Of course, competing with myself is vitally important. I need to know I’ve done all I can to be the best I can be at what I do, because people’s lives literally depend on it. Either I do it, or I don’t.
It feels great to be one of the people who can do it, and not have to prove myself to the rest.