They say if you look for the bad expecting to find it, you surely will.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of engineers. They all loved the fact that I loved how smart they were and I loved the fact they loved the stories I wrote about them. They performed heroic feats on a daily basis, but with none of the fanfare reserved for surgeons and rock stars.
Take the environmental engineers at Tinker for example. On any given day, they remediate the soil, abate the lead and contain the contamination plume. Pure genius if you ask me.
The wastewater engineers are especially amazing. They devote their careers to the design and maintenance of sanitary sewer systems. They really dig it!
And, we can all be glad they do, because as one of them explained to me one time, fairies don’t take the poo away. It all goes down the loo and into a big concrete tunnel. To get it to the plant, it has to be pumped up a hill. None of this is pretty. And, then the plant — I only thought family court or August in Oklahoma was hell, but I was wrong. Hell is the clarifier at the wastewater treatment plant, where all the you-know-what from the city flows. Magically, it’s cured, and the water is cleaned.
This is how I came to believe that engineers were the best people ever.
In 2003, I had a miscarriage at 7 1/2 weeks. My doctor, bless his heart, tried to comfort me. “You weren’t very far along,” he said. “We call them chemical pregnancies.” I turned to the Carmelite Sisters at Villa Teresa Convent for prayer. My daughter attended school there, so I knew about their Elizabeth ministry, which offered hope and comfort to women with childbearing issues. Sr. Gertrude Marie told me that she liked to think the baby went to heaven for further preparation by God. Two months later, I was pregnant again, and now that baby is a six year old boy.
I came to believe the Carmelite nuns were the best people ever.
For two years, I worked as the public information officer for EMSA, the largest ambulance service in Oklahoma, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that if every day, somebody wakes up to what turns out to be the worst day of their life then EMTs and paramedics experience all these worst days, 24/7/365.
Here are some of the worst days I remember. A mother of five, murdered on Valentine’s Day; three children orphaned in a rollover; a teenager killed by a tree. Countless motorcycle wrecks.
The medics called them donor cycles. Sarcasm and humor are an understandable shield against the impossible spear of never-ending tragedy.
But, I know what they said in my office when the door was shut. People, burning in fiery crashes, fathers they couldn’t save. They kept doing it though, because they loved their work, they loved saving people.
And, so, it goes without saying I came to believe that medics were the best people ever.
I know what you’re thinking. How can I think so many best people are the best people ever? I haven’t even told you about the man I met in 1987. I was a young, Protestant studying Jewish ideas and I decided to visit the temple on 50th Street. I met a man who was a member B’nai B’rith, a service organization. He told me about all the things they were doing to fight Anti-Semitism, like picking up shifts for Christians on Easter and Christmas. I thought he was one of the best people ever.
As a mother three, I spend my fair share of time ordering food through a drive-thru lane. At the Braum’s on Classen Boulevard I never have to repeat myself. The bubbly blonde who never forgets to hand me my receipt, is the best order-taker ever. I just pull forward and everything is as it should be.
And, this is how it goes most of the time. We find the best, because we are looking for it.