There comes a time when every one of us will need somebody. It is unavoidable. No matter how independent, isolated, or self-sufficient a person wishes to be, there is no escaping that fact. None of us can do it alone. Many have tried, and ultimately failed.
City Life is a book about people needing each other. There is no shame in that; there is no more basic human condition, for without each other, we have nothing.
I began writing accounts of my interactions with people who had called 911 for help when I realized that my position exposed me to worlds that most of us would never experience. Being allowed into a person’s home, or into their lives when away from home, during a moment in time when their need is greatest, is an honor, and not something to be taken lightly.
There is dignity to be found in just about every encounter we experience, and the people I have helped are the root of inspiration for the book. Their stories help unravel the mysteries of the human condition, and by telling them I hope to create a better understanding of the people we share this existence with, and how our differences need not keep us separate, or alone.
Some of the stories in the book are disturbing, others heartfelt, and many will leave you with a grin or scratching your head, much like I would do when responding to people’s emergencies in the city of Providence, Rhode Island. The people at the “other” end of the 911 calls are what matter. I am simply telling their stories.
It is my privilege and honor to have the opportunity to do so. I do not take this honor lightly. Few are fortunate enough to be allowed into the innermost essence of others. Being one of the few has made my experiences more vibrant and my understanding of the people I share this time on earth with far deeper than I would have ever dreamed possible.
Most of us get through our lives sharing ten percent or less of the thoughts that run through our minds. In times of crisis that ten percent expands exponentially; the whole person is exposed. Sharing these experiences with the people who need help, my family, the people I respond with, and even the city itself gives me the opportunity to be a better husband, father, friend and firefighter.
Even now, somewhere somebody is in trouble, a call is being made, a dispatch transmitted, lights flashing, bells tipping, horns blaring . . .