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From the buzzards perspective...

Random articles that are created as I travel, experience new things, meet new people and discover new insights.

  • Writer's pictureEddy Weiss

Responder relationships: Using the "B" word

In a world where it seems nobody can get along, I think that it is important to perhaps remember the commonalities that could bring us together despite our differences in politics and opinions.

This past week I spent time with many men that all shared common goals and visions. At the Texas Division of Emergency Management Conference I felt like I was suddenly on a special planet where we all were the same, we all agreed on the issues. We all knew the threats and we were all focused on overcoming or thwarting those threats. There was an atmosphere of working together whether we knew each other or not. Commonality.

Now I realize I am referencing men here and I am doing so on purpose.

There is still this thing when men get together that does not occur yet with women in the same arena. There were no happenstance meetings between female emergency managers that ended with “I will call you next week, sister!”

Nope. Still doesn’t happen. But men? In the responder world we can know each other our entire careers or we can just meet while looking at a decked-out Humvee on an exhibit floor and when we part, it’s “I will call you next week, brother!”

Yes, men bond when they can and in the responder world, we bind faster. Maybe this is something that could change the way our country works. Perhaps the debt ceiling thing could have been solved faster if, as everyone walked into the oval office they high-fived and started with, “What’s up, bro?”.

I ran into an old colleague at the conference that I had not seen in several years. The minute we saw each other he immediately threw me the “Bro hug” and asked if my wife was with me.

He remembered my wife whom he had met at a conference 4 years before. This question triggered my memory as I remembered he had two daughters in college the last time we had seen each other. I told him my wife was at home with some sick kids and followed with a question as to whether or not his girls had graduated.

It was at that moment the two of us could have solved the border crisis.

I think that a lot of the problem in our country is that normal people just don’t treat each other like responders treat each other. Maybe there should be a book entitled “People are from Mars and Responders are from Venus”. Something like that.

I am always amazed at how the bonding works. We have a commonality that begins with a uniform. They don’t have to match, what is important is that we both have one. It establishes a connection that we are in the same business. It is the beginning of a foundation.

In the real world we could maybe say that being Americans could be that uniform.

The second element is that we are both taking a leak within a foot of each other separated by only a thin wall in a bathroom that smells like it has not been cleaned since last year’s conference yet we smile and nod at each other. The fact that we are going through a hardship like this together is already drawing us closer.

Our country is definitely struggling and starting to smell like a conference center restroom so maybe this is where we start? After all, we are all going through some things together right now.

As we exit the restroom, we comment lightly on the ridiculousness of those faucets that don’t come on no matter how much you mime in front of them. This does not matter to either of us as we notice there are no paper towels anyway and so we smile and walk out together, veterans of yet another war.

This might be classified as just not making a big deal out of everything and letting the water flow off your back every once in a while.

Now we strike up a conversation. We start to discuss the things that bond us together. In this case, we discuss the flooding and the severe weather our state has been experiencing. We begin to reminisce over past storms that were worse and realize we were both alive at the same time when these events occurred.

We have established a history that is irrefutable. A common background.

The conversation stays peppered with professional anecdotes and light discussion about response and emergency planning, but the relaxed conversation gives way to the personal.

We try to get to know each other better.

He begins to share that his wife has limited his budget while at the show as they are looking for a new house. I share that my wife never knows what she wants when we arrive at McDonalds even though it takes us 30 minutes to get to McDonalds and the menu is always the same.

We keep expectations low as we feel the conversation starting to slow down and come to an end. One of us inevitably asks, “So, how far are you from me?”

It’s Texas so we already know the answer is a six hour drive.

High expectations will almost always result in disappointment.

“Perhaps we can get together soon and talk about the new requirements for…”

We discuss setting goals to pursue more of a relationship.

And we won’t get together and we know that. But before parting, we will gather just a small bit of information… “So when are you gonna get that new house? Which is followed by, “I hope you get home safe. Take your wife to Burger King when you get home!”

We recognize that we have bonded.

And then we do it… “Let’s talk soon, brother!”

We use the “B” word.

In three years I will open with, “How’s your new house?”

The responder world has much it could teach the rest of the world. We recognize the commonalities and we make a conscious decision to not start fist fights over the stupid stuff.

Maybe it is just a matter of being nicer to each other. Maybe that would solve the problems. I don’t claim to know how women function, but I do know that I had over one hundred conversations with men this past week and not one of us even raised our voices.


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