I’m Not That Important

Recently I went to the Center for Emergency Preparedness to teach police cadets. The Center (often just called “The CEP”) is a part of the Owen’s College campus that focuses on training first responders, Police, Fire, and EMS. You may see the CEP sometime if you drive on Tracy Rd near the Owens campus; it has a large selection of Fire trucks, ambulances, and a few police vehicles. It also has a simulated town in the back lot with a gas station, bank, a fire tower, numerous other fire simulators and buildings, and a Boeing 727 jet!

So as I was saying, I was at the CEP to teach cadets Subject Control (self-defense, fighting, etc.) As  I always do I intended to pull into the high bay garage where I can unload all my gear and set out the mats prior to training. And guess what I find? Trucks blocking my access to the building. Trucks I know belong to the fire academy instructors. I had to drive around the building and walk in two different areas to find an open spot where I could pull my vehicle into the high bay.  Once I was finally able to pull into the high bay, guess what I found next? Fire gear laying everywhere. Specifically, the fire cadets had their gear laying all over the area that we’re supposed to train in, an area I had reserved for my cadets months ago! I was livid.

So what did I do? Of course I went right into the nearest classroom and put a fire cadet in a pain compliance escort position marched him out to clean up their mess.  

I’m just kidding… (but I did briefly think about it.) What I really did, was I reminded myself that “I’m not that important.” Let me explain what I mean.

I realized those fire instructors, when they parked their trucks blocking the doors, they weren’t thinking about me at all, I’m not that important. They were likely thinking about how they didn’t want to haul all their fire gear through the classroom portion of the building. So like me, they wanted to park out back and closer to their  work areas. And those fire cadets? They weren’t thinking about me, I’m not important to them either. They were likely nervous kids who were simply trying to make their instructors happy by neatly laying out their gear so they could put it on quickly later in the day. So although I allowed myself to get annoyed by their inconvenient parking and gear strategies, I had to remind myself they were simply trying to teach, learn, and train just like the rest of us. 

I still had to have them move their gear; we needed that area for training. But by the time I got to that, I was calm, relaxed and back to my usual happy self. 

I have to remind myself that “I’m not that important” at times, especially in the small things. Oftentimes I see someone do something that is an annoyance, or maybe even downright insensitive or rude. But I have to remind myself that those people aren’t doing those things because they are deliberately trying to offend anyone (especially not me!), it’s usually because they have stressful busy lives themselves! They have things to do, people to see, lives to live, and in the rush of the day to day, they’re not thinking about me one bit. I’m simply not that important! 

At times I’ll see people get offended because someone made a gesture in a bar, blocked an aisle in the grocery store, made an odd face at a baseball game. But to “take it personally” assumes that the person in question was actually thinking about us when they did such a thing. The most likely truth was that person wasn’t thinking about us in the least! 

Now, let me be clear, when I say “I’m not that important,” that’s not meaning to say I don’t have value. It’s not a statement of poor self-esteem. It’s simply a recognition that the world does not revolve around me. And I’m probably not a factor in that person’s life at all, so why be offended?

 So next time you see a stranger or acquaintance do something that could be seemed selfish, insensitive, or annoying, remind yourself that you’re not likely important enough that they were targeting you for offense. They’re probably just preoccupied with their busy own lives... And then let it go! (even if it IS a fireman!)

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