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NO is Never Easy to Hear

Or read.  Or have inferred.  Heck it isn’t even all that great to write about, but this is my therapy experiment so there you go.

NO is an answer I’ve heard more than I ever thought.  Especially in my professional career as a Firefighter, Paramedic and even Clinical Supervisor.

The first NO I recall impacting on my firefighting career was in the tiny Town of Bernalillo outside of Albuquerque, NM.  I was a volunteer for a year with the County and had recently been hired on the Reservation about a 45 minute drive south.  The politics were getting to me so I thought I’d leave and head for a “Real Fire Department.”

Resume fresh with my new college credits en route to my BS in EMS I sat in the interview with the Mayor (There was no Fire Chief).  I knew the half dozen other guys putting in for the single job opening and I was already “measuring for curtains” as they say.

“I see you’re on the way to your degree…” the Mayor said as he flipped my resume over, clearly hoping there was more to it than the almost single page.

“Yes, I’ve been focusing on work recently.”

“NO, you need to keep your focus.  You won’t be chosen for this position, Justin, I think you need to finish school and figure out where you really want to be.”

A few years later I found myself working for the Public Safety system I’ve spoken of often.  Cops with turnouts, white engines with blue stripes…long story.  While there I started getting antsy.  The internet was recently available through AOL and I was searching jobs day and night.

My entire paycheck once went to an overnight trip to Seattle…to work for a “Real Fire Department.”

The physical and written exams were challenging, those of you who know this forum know that I failed that physical exam.  An entire paycheck. I think I missed rent that month.  When the letter came in the mail, “You failed to complete the minimum qualifications…”  might have just been a post card that said “NO.”

I wept.  I’m not ashamed.  I wept in the mailbox alcove of that shitty apartment building wondering just how long I would be trapped in my current position.  Behind on rent.  Hated my job, well at least 2 of the 3 jobs I was trying to keep.

When I finished school and landed a job with a “Real Fire Department” I thought NO was behind me.  After all, there aren’t any problems in Heaven, right?

I recently got a NO in the mail I should have expected but the pessimist in me kept saying “You at least have a chance at an interview!  They’ll at least sit with you to let you make your case!”

“Thank you for your interest but after careful review you will not be advancing to the interview portion…”



The letter more or less said NO.


I wept.  I’m not ashamed.  I wept into my hands suddenly being transported back to that mail alcove, cold and hungry, then opened my eyes.  I took a deep breath.  Warm, well fed, loving family…

Bring on the NOs, they keep landing me in better places.

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