It has always been my belief that birthdays are meant to be celebrated regardless of the age of the celebrant. It is the one day of the year that belongs to you and you alone regardless of how many other people you share it with because no matter what comes after that day, your birthday is the most important day of your life. It only stops being that when the day of your death takes over and chances are pretty good you won't be around to celebrate that - at least not on this earthly plane!. Without your birthday there would be no other red-letter days to celebrate - no graduations, no wedding anniversaries, no births of your own children, no first cars, no first mortgages - zip, zero, zilch, nada!
We all know that children love birthdays because it's the one day out of the year that as my friend Andrew likes to say - "it's all about me!" You can be expectant on your birthday, you can be a bit demanding on your birthday, and you can want a little extra attention on your birthday and I see nothing wrong with that. What's wrong with having one day for you - one day set aside for celebrating the life that you have lived and the remainder that lies before you?
Today is the birthday of one of my fellow dispatchers - Erik - who we affectionately refer to as Boukie (don't ask me, he had the nickname before I got there!). Boukie had mentioned last week his birthday was coming up but I can't remember my own name half the time without the help of my name tag so I didn't remember the special occasion was today until he said that his girlfriend was going to take him to see "World Trade Center" tonight - which he had mentioned wanting to go see on his birthday. Well, of course we all had to wish him a happy day but he just slunk down into his chair and grumbled in his best Scrooge impression - "bah, it's just another day". To heck with that I say! It's NOT just another day - it's BOUKIE'S day and it should at least be acknowledged if not downright celebrated (full-blown celebrations in the dispatch center are hard to pull off in between 911 calls!)
In lieu of a cake, party streamers, and alcoholic beverages, I sent an alpha-mate page out to all of the crews on the road to be sure to let them know that it was Erik's special day. This, as planned, resulted in a flurry of well wishes that caused Bouk to slink even further down into his chair while still grumbling that it was "just another day". Good grief, where's Tiny Tim when you need him?!? (The Dickens character, not the falsetto singer of the 70's!). Obviously the guy needs a lesson in how to celebrate!
A little later in the day our second-in-command at American came into dispatch to extend his well wishes of the day and also to announce on the radio for everyone to wish Erik a happy birthday! and that really got our poor old Boukie flustered. Obviously the guy is not used to having any attention at all on his date of birth and that's just sad to me. He said that birthday celebrations should be reserved for children but I ask you why? Why should only kids get the joy of having their own special day? Who wrote the rule that says birthdays are not to be celebrated by anyone over the age of 16?? We should celebrate every single day of our lives that we wake up on this side of the dirt but, barring that, we should at least celebrate the important ones!
I'm hoping that Boukie was just being shy and demur (not traits you normally associate with a guy but who I am to question if he's in touch with his feminine side or not?!) and that he was simply playing the role of the hard-as-nails, nothing-fazes-me, I-have-no-real-feelings-inside dispatcher that all of us in this profession seem to want to portray ourselves as. I'm hoping that inside he was secretly enjoying the attention that he was getting despite his protestations to the contrary. And I'm hoping that he goes out with his girlfriend tonight and they have a great time celebrating his birthday complete with dinner out and a cake brought to him by a bunch of people he doesn't know singing some ridiculous "happy, happy birthday" song to him while he squirms uncomfortably in his seat!
Happy Birthday once again, Boukie, and don't be such an Eeyore - that's my job next month!