Be quick, but don’t hurry
The late, great basketball coach John Wooden (who coincidentally began his coaching career just a few miles from my boyhood home) was famous for his gentle, succinct, yet profound wisdom. Not just about the game he coached, but about life in general.
He often told his players to “be quick, but don’t hurry”, a lesson we’d all benefit from reminding ourselves of occasionally. I needed to yesterday.
I shot three assignments earlier in the day but headed home to cut my grass by 5 p.m. Just as I was finishing up, I heard the blaring horns of several fire engines nearby. Took me only a couple seconds to look skyward and notice a huge plume of thick black smoke.
Here’s where Wooden’s lesson should have applied. I immediately ran inside to grab my cameras and press credentials, and raced out the back door. My dog looked at me like I was crazy as I hustled to my truck where I gave the smoke cloud one more look and foolishly decided this was a major house fire and it had to be very nearby. I decided to run. Terrible decision.
About four blocks into my trek, I started to realize this was indeed a large fire, only that my first impression that it was within sprinting distance was way off. Like more than a mile off. I should have turned around right there and gone back for my truck. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “If you’re on the wrong road, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” Yesterday, I thought to myself, “I’ve come this far, what’s another 12 blocks?”
I later GoogleMapped the route I took. 1.7 miles. With two cameras hanging from my shoulders and an old pair of sneakers I use to mow the lawn. If I had decided to drive, I could have shot the fire, stopped to top off my tank of gas and still made it back home faster than I arrived at the scene on foot. I must have resembled Clark Griswold walking across the Arizona desert in “National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation” by the time I got there! To think I could have traveled to the scene in the comforts of my air-conditioned automobile doesn’t make the blisters on my feet feel any better this morning.
By the time I actually made it to the fire, I was surprised to see engine companies still arriving. I was sore and a little ticked knowing I didn’t have to be soaked in sweat and looking like it was my first day on the job if I had just slowed down during the seconds of my first response. The fire turned out to be at a large, vacant warehouse building in Cicero. There were a few neighboring businesses at risk early on, but firefighters got it under control somewhat quickly. Not exactly a big story.
I shot crews fighting the fire, then decided to head home. Tired, weary and promising myself to never make the same mistake again.