A guy on a fuel truck. Not hardly. When you are young with your whole life ahead of you, anything is possible. For a couple of kids, the possibilities seem endless. Kings for a day.
I met Craig Adamson in 1984. I was a young cop and he was the new County Ambulance Service Director. We met at some forgotten accident scene and we hit it off.
Craig was one of those well adjusted guys with a lot of common sense. For some reason, he had a lapse in that common sense and asked me to become an EMT and work in Emergency Medical Services with him. I was young and stupid and it sounded fun. We worked together for four years. I worked part time for the ambulance service and eventually became an Advanced EMT- while still doing the Deputy Sheriff thing. I did not become "poorer" for that experience.
Craig absolutely loved being an EMT. He loved what he did and I have to say, there was nobody better. He was the first one out the door when the alarm tone went off. He was the first guy out of the bus when we arrived on scene. He had the enthusiasm of a kid and the word "quit" was not in his vocabulary. He had a gifted sense of humor, one of those guys that could pick up on your cynicism and run with it. Craig was always the first one to do any job- always leading by example. Craig constantly recruited people. He always told them that one of the benefits of working for the ambulance service was a free trip on the ambulance to the hospital if you needed it. He was always serious when he said that- like he meant it. I often told him that particular benefit did not interest me. I told him it wasn't the best selling point. I feared what he'd do to me- if he were near any catheters while I was unconscious and laying on my back. Craig and that wry smile.
Craig was starting a family back then and said he was naming one of his kids after me. I never knew if he was kidding me or not. I still don't. Craig and I hunted together and we did a few other things. In the late 80's I quit my job as a cop and went to Vegas to screw off. I returned a year later, landed a police officer job with Hailey and got together with Craig again. We decided to become pilots. We did ground school together. I quit after a few lessons and Craig continued on and got his pilots license. About that time, Craig lost his job as the Ambulance Director. I think he used his retirement to buy a plane. I was proud of him for that.
People that love their jobs and are the best at what they do, should never lose their jobs. But they do. Craig taught me that. I never really got over it. Seeing Craig return to the family business in Carey was odd for me. Seeing him in his ambulance get up, little badge, shirt half hanging out of his pants once in awhile, is how I remember him. Seeing him working in the family store always bothered me. Odd, it never seemed to bother him. He practiced acceptance long before I knew what that word meant.
In the intervening years, some 20 of them, life just got in the way of our friendship. I would always try to stop in Carey at the family store, in some hit or miss fashion. He'd stop by the police department once in awhile. He had a big family to raise and I was busy with my "important" life. Eventually, I became Police Chief for awhile, and as I glance back at our lives- I see the similarities. There are a couple of folks that I left behind who I think saw me the same way- the way I saw Craig when he left. It would never be the same.
So when I got the call yesterday that Craig had been killed in an explosion in Picabo, I was in disbelief. I wondered what the hell had happened. I thought about his wife Betty, all of his kids, and I'll be honest with you... I am having a tough time processing this now. My emotions are not range bound as I reflect on why a guy like Craig was forced to check out early twice. Life it seems, doesn't care much for my emotional appeals. I can't speak for anyone else but I am one of those guys that thinks I am emotionally prepared for these things when they happen. It is a form of self delusion. I think that guys like Craig and I should end our days like old men. Teasing each other in some fishing boat on Carey Lake.
All that is left for me now is acceptance. Craig was smart enough and humble enough to realize that if this is the most intelligent life in the universe- we are all in bad shape. He was a devout Christian. He was a loving father and a loving husband. And he was one of my best friends, even though 20 years got in the way. Craig was one of the good guys. In many respects, I used him to shape what kind of man I wanted to be and I damn sure never thought I'd be writing something like this. Sometimes life, but mostly death, just pisses me off. I know how he was around others when they were grieving. I know what he'd tell me. I just have to remember that. I love you.