Gary McPherson, one of the greatest mentors and role models I’ll ever have, made a comment just a few days before his 60th birthday I replay every day.
“I don’t think,” Gary said, looking skywards, “I’ve done my best work yet.”
It’s quite the statement for someone at that age. Yet, it was even more powerful coming from Gary: he caught polio at the age of eight, wheeled himself in a recliner wheelchair with one foot, lived in the Aberhart Hospital, got married, moved into a home with wife Val and started a family.
Even more impressive is his professional resume, ranging from executive director of the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association, first chair of the Premier’s Council of the Status of Persons with Disabilities 30 years ago, Order of Canada recipient and receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Alberta.
Now, nearing the sixth decade myself, I’m taking Gary’s advice about work. In fact, I’m entering a brand-new chapter of my career – something I’ve never done before, but always have wanted to.
That’s why, bright and early Monday morning, I’m going to drop my application, in person, to Mayor Don Iveson. Then, I’m going to take a copy over to chief of police, Rod Knecht at Edmonton Police Service headquarters, just to make sure I have all my bases covered.
You may have heard.
We have a brand spanking new police helicopter.
They just might need a part-time pilot when the chief pilot, Murray Matchmaker, isn’t available.
I want the job. Just call me “Captain Cam”, or “Take Off Tait.”
Oh, sure. You probably are sputtering over your Sunday morning coffee and rolling your eyes – just like Gary did – and suggest it’s time for me to retire … not go after a new job.
Like Gary, I have a physical disability – cerebral palsy – and use a wheelchair. We have wheelchair accessible cars, vans – even trucks.
So, why not a wheelchair accessible helicopter? It is, after all, 2018. And the City of Edmonton is an equal opportunity employer, right?
Now, I do have experience. Oh, yes. Even before I was 10, I made five trips from JFK in New York to the Newark airport in a helicopter, within 100 feet of the Statue of Liberty. It was a banana helicopter, but it’s the same type of idea. I think.
I have also 10 years of playing aircraft video games on my computer so I know the controls, the lingo and the overalls helicopter pilots wear.
Yes, my disability might cause the helicopter to have the odd jerky movement. But that happens during windy nights, doesn’t it?
There it is, folks: I’ll fly on windy nights only. Because with my jerky movements, and the wind gusts, I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts (sorry, had to get that in, since it’s a police story) the chopper would fly as smooth as possible, ensuring everyone would get a safe ride.
I have to go and start working on my resume, because …
OK. Seriously, I’m getting carried away.
But I think we all have to be reminded of my dear friend Gary’s creed of “not doing my best work yet” We need to strive to try new things – and always remember the sky is, indeed, the limit.