I remember easing out of a nap on a nice couch next to a gorgeous girl, while the ending credits of Entourage played “Lucky Man” by The Verve; the warm 2pm sun creeping through blinds on a perfect spring day during the second semester of college and having a feeling the whole world was right. This was not just a fleeting moment but just a continuum of a honest upcoming in the world.
I was at a fantastic University, doing great in school; professors grooming me for what was next in my life. Let me just say - things were right; when one day some misguided soul busted into our lecture hall with a shotgun and several handguns and opened up on us. It was at this point, my easy life of graduating with my degree, landing a solid job, getting a family and taking vacations became unimportant to me.
I clearly remember booking it from the building, jumping in my car and high-tailing it back to my campus apartment and frantically waiting for my friends to get back. One by one, as they came back it was the fantastic to see one, but it’s like “thank God Ted made it, but when is Sal going to show up?”
The parties, straight A’s, fraternity, all melted away. Life - what I was going to make of it became important to me.
Within the week I went to the fire house who was first due to the shooting to thank them. A fireman asked me “what’s important to you?” I told the blue shirt, “I want serve people before myself.” That shift hooked me up with plan. Not only did graduate with my bachelors degree, but was a nationally registered EMT and certified State Firefighter running one a major city engine company.
During my time I became a Nationally Registered Paramedic, worked up to a squad company. Of course, my crew saved some people, but we also lost some people who were trusted to my care. Needless to say there was a fair amount of tragedy that came along with the gig. My life in the fire service went from 0 to 100 real quick.
What an interesting dichotomy - living this “nirvana” experience since high school, sheltered from tragedy in college, being tested on derivatives - to being covered in blood while attempting to keep an exsanguinating stabbing victim from suffocating on his own blood alive long along enough for an ED doc to have a viable chance to save this guy - and everything in between. What the fuck…
To keep my mind off this, I started fixing the computers around the firehouse and on the rigs. The chiefs and council started coming to me with technology consulting questions. Before I knew it we had made major changes from within the department to save the municipality money. We starting getting awards from the state for our systems. Chief awarded me two certificates of merit for technology: one for a web application I build and another which our EMS region adopted and led to faster response times which was and continued to be documented as reason for the quality of response times on code 3 calls.
My success came, while the other firemen sat in the lazy boys after 5pm watching hockey - I was busy reading textbooks on becoming a fullstack dev. My application spread through the whole department and to surrounding departments. I met top fire chiefs, men of honor, and people who I am humbled to know. They all believed in my mission.
One day a university approached me offering me a Jr. Systems Admin position. The sysadmin opportunity where everything is command line, write web applications, host email servers, and all the fun things an enterprise admin handles. This was a tough tough choice. But for the two past two years I’ve been a sysadmin - moving from a jr to the sysadmin for a campus with 4 locations in 2 states. Everything I’ve ever learning is being put to the test right now. Linux, automation, programming, troubleshooting, prioritizing, and composure. When I say I’m the admin I mean the infrastructure is mine .
However, I am having a hard time adjusting. Look I’m fucked up from the fire service - not because I’ve dug broken bodies of children out of cars, but because I’m used to sitting at the dinner table every 3rd day with people who really are the people who have save kids from burning buildings, like no shit heroes - most with high school degrees, but who earned “stripes.” Like I said men of Honor. However, it’s tough to give respect to someone who has earned “wall paper”, but never changed the world, but demands the respect I give my Lt.
This is enough rambling. Hi, I’m cotton - I’m a self taught sysadmin who’s delivered a couple kids, seen some of the most ridiculous and tragic things, has trouble spelling, absolutely loves Linux, keyboard monkey, an anonymous member of this great community and struggling to deal with life after duty, honor, tradition; pride and ownership…
I wished that shitbag would have just popped himself at home instead of brining it to us - I’d probably be a successful director by now. HA!
As Gump would say - that’s all I have to say about that.