Home » A Wasted Life » Getting My Shot

Getting My Shot

Classes were starting and I was cautiously optimistic and also nervous.  There were thirty-eight students, not including me.  At fifty-two, I was by far the oldest.
Our teacher let us know from the first day that she wasn’t a four-hour teacher and if anybody had a problem with that, we could take a vote.  I was the only one who wanted the benefit of the entire class so they were reduced to two and a half hours.
Most of the people in the class had registered at the behest of their companies and didn’t have to pay their own tuition.  I don’t think they cared if they passed….they weren’t losing their money…..just their time.
I immediately made friends with the two other older people as well as two eighteen year olds.
The equipment was horrible at best.  The stethoscopes didn’t have the earpieces and the blood pressure cuffs were missing the bulbs.  We did the best we could and had fun “pretending” to use them.
I paid attention and took notes.  I found the information not only interesting but fascinating as well.  I had always been drawn to anything and everything medically related.
We had our first test and I was devastated when I only made 88.  I was embarrassed and was afraid that J*** would be disappointed.  He didn’t show disappointment but rather surprise.
I had never been blindly driven at all cost like J*** but I had already decided that I was going to finish first in the class and this grade only made me more determined.  I bought extra books and when J*** went to work, I studied for a minimum of five hours every day.
From that point on, I never made less than 97.  When we had “at home” tests, everybody came in and started asking me what I got for question number 20 or 87 or 19 or 5.  They knew I was going to have the right answer.
Part of the class required doing “ride-alongs” with the county EMS system and it didn’t matter which county.  There was a station right up the street from me and I signed up with them.  We were only required to do three but I signed up every single week.  I loved it.  Sometimes, we would be getting on the truck and I would see J*** drive by on his way to work.
I had been riding along for months at the same station and I knew most of the crews that worked there.
Then came the “war on terrorism.”  A young marine had been killed, set on fire and hung from a bridge.
J*** had decided to put the picture in the newspaper.  The crew was talking about it at base.  The director of the county EMS system had written a “letter to the editor” about it, expressing his disgust with the picture and the decision to print it.  The crew started harshly criticizing J***.  They weren’t aware that I was married to him but later figured it out.
I defended his decision.  I told them that when I saw the picture, it took my breath away but if it was my son, I would want people to know what they had done to him and what they were doing to other mothers’ and fathers’ sons and daughters.  I thought they were going to collectively attack me, so I left and went home.
My teacher got word the next day from the director that I was never allowed to do anymore ride-alongs, not only at that station but at none of the stations.  She was also told to pass the word along that I would never be hired by that county.  She said she told him that I was her best student but he didn’t care and made some reference to that “asshole husband” of mine.
Our anniversary was coming up and he blew me away when he took me to see “Riverdance.”  It was a complete and total surprise.  I had always loved watching them dance on television.  I don’t think he cared anything about it at all but he knew I did.
Then it was time for another Christmas and as usual, it was great.  He got me a digital camera.  Several years before, he had gotten me a Nikon but it required film as had the little Kodak from our first year.  It was a great present.
J*** had told a few people at work that I was going to EMT school.  One of his reporters, A***, who was suffering from a sudden onslaught of ALS, was the only one who consistently asked him how I was doing.
The symphony had come to town and we were expected to go, of course.  We got there and met up with publisher and his wife.  We chatted briefly and she said she understood that I was going to EMT school.  She wrinkled up her nose and more or less expressed her view that what I was doing was tantamount to picking up garbage.  I told her that maybe I couldn’t sell somebody a six million dollar house but I could save their life.
J*** had long since walked off and left me…..again.  Why wasn’t he standing there beside me, telling her how proud he was of me?  Why wasn’t he standing there beside me, condemning her view of what I hoped would be my profession?
We sat through the symphony and then the camaraderie began, along with the drinking.  I watched J*** and I wondered why I never caught him looking at me.
I wondered why he didn’t try to encourage people to ask me about EMT school.  I was hoping to finally be something besides a “housewife.”  I would find out years later how he viewed my potential profession but now, it was so clear that I had become a mere shadow.  I was a designated driver.  I was the person who nobody saw.  If I had walked out, would he have even noticed?  I imagine he would have noticed when it was time to go home because I was the person he never saw or looked for until he needed a ride.
It was as if I had been drawn with invisible ink.

2 thoughts on “Getting My Shot

  1. Just to let you know that whenever I “stumble” into an interesting blog I read first the “about” and then the first few posts . Terry from “Spearfruit” mentioned you and I’ve been reading for hours . It’s 3 in the morning my time , I’ll have a wake up call at 6:30 and I really don’t want to put your “book” down 🙂
    Turtle Hugs


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