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I’m thankful for my childhood friends and the lessons we learned together. As I found my way out of high school and into the Fire Department, somehow I ended up hanging out with the same kind of “got your back” kind of special people. I am THANKFUL for every one.

When I was young automobile hubcaps had value. They were heavy, expensive and chrome and if you could find the ones that were not skinned up too bad they were worth a few bucks. There was pride in hubcaps.

Just for fun, kids who had an old hubcap would lie down in the ditch and play hubcap. Since air conditioning and fancy radios had not come along, most people rode with their windows down. When the approaching automobile came along side you slammed the heavy hubcap down on the road. The driver would hear the commotion and as they exited their automobile to pick up their hubcap, the kid would run into the road, grab the hubcap and yell out “hubcap, I got it” and run. Most drivers chased first and only found out later about the game called hubcap.

My friend Bobby Nunnally and Mike West were with me one night at the high school football game. Words were exchanged between Bobby and a visitor from another high school and Bobby convinced the visitor that I had the time if he had the desire. After the visitor and I quickly agreed to the idea, I headed my little 145 lbs. of untamed hell behind the gym and waited. Mike West came running to tell me “he’s got his senior ring off the girl’s finger and he’s ripping off the tape with his teeth.”

Once behind the gym, a series of verbal not so niceties were exchanged and I determined that he had the ring and a big mouth but not much heart. He didn’t throw down, even when I offered my jaw for a target. His mistake was offering his to me, which seemed at the moment like the quickest way for me to keep that ring out of my face. The meeting didn’t last long and although I didn’t put him to sleep, he did dose a few times and he never seemed to grasp that his seniority, the ring and nothing else really mattered in the red clay – he had no heart, no pride – and it showed.

Sometimes leaders don’t understand the game of hubcap and the associated dangers. People today will open you up quicker than an FDNY Ladder Company for a lot less than a hubcap, so if you are a leader who can’t run and just brings mouth behind the gym, a little advice is to just stay at home and leave the fighting to those who like it and who are up to the challenge.

People who fight fires don’t care about your ring, your paper pedigree, or the ungrateful and sarcastic mouth, they care about how they are led, what you bring behind the gym when the going gets tough, how fairly they and others are treated, and what you do with the hubcaps that they take pride in and that are meaningful in their lives.

Don’t walk around with your jaw hanging out.

Did you skip the class on ducking?

Don’t just take care of the people, care about their hubcaps too.

Leadership ain’t this hard folks.

Follow the leader – not the paper champ.

Thanks for reading, caring and sharing.

Have a Great day – it’s a GREAT day for it.

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