Mr. January (the best-looking Captain with our agency, nicknamed as a male pinup calendar picture) was standing next to me as we looked down the embankment. We had three relatively new guys with us on Engine 53, and had sent them down. Full of vim and vigor, rummaging and blundering through the brush and sticks, looking for a body, living or otherwise, they labored on. Fumbling with TICs and box lights, tripping over vines, getting branch whiplashes to the face. Occasionally looking under the upside-down car yet again. They were a determined crew, and wanted Mr. January's silent approval. They wanted to find the prize.
Behind us, the crews of Medic 98 and Engine 56 were packaging the guy who had been the passenger in the car, which was now missing almost its entire front section. How he got out of the car and climbed up here is anyone's guess. Considering that he should probably be dead, he's doing pretty well. Well enough to insist that his girlfriend was driving, and that she never wears her seatbelt.
We found his stuff in the car and strewn around, and not a shred of evidence - purse, makeup, clothing - to suggest a female presence. He gave us her cell number, and we called it. No sign of a ringing or flashing phone anywhere, and no answer. Car is registered in his name. Is this sounding familiar yet? Assumptions in this business can be a dangerous thing, but everyone knows that he was actually the driver, trying to duck the charges. Still, we played the game, and got plenty of just-in-case searching help from the deputies.
Mr. January just stood there. No smile, no frown, no emotion, as his kids continued to crunch around down there.
I reflected on why I wasn't down there with them. Nor the Captain. We agreed that having energetic greenhorns can be a good thing. I looked at him with a grin and asked a question.
Where's your passion? Nothing seems to excite you any more. Doing this too long?
This is me being passionate. You should see me when I am bored.
I can't tell the difference, then, you always look the same to me. Stone cold good looking, but unchanging.
That's because I'm always passionate about this job. Our young crew is doing a good thorough job down there, right?
Yes. Yes, they are.
They make me happy. They're enjoying what they do, and I am enjoying helping them enjoy what they do. You enjoy that, too, don't you?
Yes. Yes, I do.
Mr. January's passion isn't gone. It's just different. As is mine. Slowing down and staying calm isn't a loss of passion, it is a focus of it. Those who lose it, leave. Yet, here we are.
I hope I never lose it. Thanks for the reminder, Captain.
Still, I didn't feel too bad about letting the kids do the searching on the hillside. I'm getting slightly too old for that kind of play if it can be delegated. And sure enough, the girlfriend was finally awakened at home, oblivious to the events where we were.
Check your passion. It's probably still with you somewhere, so don't lose track of it.