Vicarious_Lee wrote:Changing gears, I'd like to share the most singularly moving experience of my entire professional life with y'all that happened just today. I hope not to violate my own pathetic OPSEC, but this stirred things in me so unusual and so deeply that I can think of nothing else right now. I work in a hospital.
So today, we had a celebrity come through the unit. We get that a lot. Sports team cheerleaders, etc. Doesn't affect me. Today, a man I haven't thought of in probably 25 years came by. "King" Richard Petty. I found myself oddly anticipating this visit, but didn't know why. I found myself trying to get a glimpse, which is not something I normally do.
I feel like that's normally not proper for the employees. The Celebrity isn't here to see you, they're here for the patients, but Petty stirred distant memories in me. I remember being 6 years old and seeing his larger-than-life persona and trademark ornate cowboy hat on TV as he was discussing his controversial move to Chevy and the Monte Carlo in 1984. I was transported back, barefooted, to my dirt-poor grandmother's warped, linoleum-floored living room, watching what I thought was a living Superman on TV. I wasn't 7 years old at the time.
At the last moment, I shied away from him as he exited the next room, even though my poorly-contained excitement had caught on with the staff, and even the service chief herself was happy to grant me a face-to-face with him (he saw each and every patient. He gowned up in isolation gear, and took photos with EVERYONE). I didn't want to go to my office, though. I had to observe Him. He's skinny, looks to be about 6' 5", but is probably only about 5' 11", and his charisma takes up whole cubic yards of space. I was sitting at the nurse's station working as he and his entourage came out of another room.
I looked away, but just in time to see a man in a wheelchair roll up and stop Petty in his tracks and say "Hey, there's a really good healthcare guy that would like to meet you over there." and he pointed to me. Petty immediately strolled up to me as I arose, awestruck. Then, as he looked me in the eye from behind his trooper sunglasses and shook my hand firmly, he said something to me:
"Thank you for taking care of our veterans. I appreciate what you do."
"I appreciate what you do." If I wasn't on such an adrenaline rush I'd have broken down and cried right there. I'm sure Petty was just being gracious and professional, a trait he's famous for, but in that instance, I was in two places at once. Here I was, a 35-year-old man who's invested most of his life into his education, doing the best I can for the people I just happen to be serving at the time. Yet when he took my hand in his and told me that he appreciated what I do for a living, he may as well have been directly speaking to that 6-year-old boy in his poor grandmother's house from the magical television box that could barely contain his aura so long ago.
I did cry later, and am doing so now as I write this. I texted my dad, and he just said "Money can't buy that".
My job wasn't Hell today. Today, "King" Richard Petty approached me. Today, the Superman that I hadn't thought of since I was a little boy came out of my deepest memories, looked me in the eye, shook my hand, and thanked me. He told me that He appreciated me for what I do.
Right now I am both a 35-year-old man that on most days feels like he has no idea what he's doing, and also a young boy, standing in the dilapidated home of my long-deceased grandparents, being noticed, recognized, and of all things appreciated for everything I've done with my career since I first learned who Richard Petty even was.
Thanks, Richard Petty. You were just being nice today. I will cherish this memory forever.
HELL YEAH! That is very cool! I have heard he is a down to earth kind of guy and kudos to him for coming over to you to shake your hand. He did not have to do that, but he did.
I only got to talk to Kid Rock once for about 20 seconds...I think I would have liked to talk to Richard Petty even more.