Stranger 19, Day 19 – Meet Rickey, the “Passionate Medical Dreamer”

Stranger 19, Day 19 - Meet Rickey

So I’ve had a rough 8+ days so far having severely strained my neck. In fact, last night was real difficult to sleep — one of the most painful sleeps I’ve ever had. I was in so much pain, I thought about going to the ER, but was able to knock myself out briefly and make it to 8AM to go to the nearest Urgent Care facility. It was at Urgent Care where I would meet today’s Stranger.

Real quick about the Stranger, he was actually my x-ray technologist. That is, he took x-rays of my neck. While I was standing there getting my x-rays taken, the technologist was very friendly and mentioned to me that while he was entering my personal information, he noticed we had the exact same birthday. Fast forward a couple x-rays and couple minutes later, I shared with him 100 Strangers, 100 Days, and asked if he wanted to be the Stranger for the day. Not surprisingly because of his energy and kindness and openness, he was up for it.

Meet Rickey, 31

Who are you?

(I have to paraphrase for the first few questions because I had neither my notepad and pen, nor my phone to record the interview when I started getting to know Rickey.)

“I’m a husband. Former military serviceman. I’m a father of two.”

Rickey expands on his military experience, “… in the Air Force… spent eight years in there… worked on a lot of fighter planes, I did drones that you see out there on TV — worked on those. And now, I’m a student and working at Smartcare.”

He mentions to me how he was actually born in Germany to military parents. Also, he shares how he became an x-ray technologist — simplistically it was easy for him to get into, and has been a great gateway into the medical field. (More on this later with his dream.)

After hearing more about his military experience, I wanted to dive right into what he’s learned. What’s a Life Lesson you’d like to share?

“Connect and get to know those in a similar situation as you.” Rickey explains how he learned to connect with those he served with in the military. He cited the 12-hour days, 6-days-a-week schedule while serving, and how it really forced him to get to know his colleagues very well. He goes on to share how he was able to connect with them and learn about their diverse backgrounds and upbringings.

Today, Rickey still keeps up with many of his fellow service men.

What was a Life-Defining Moment for you?

“Becoming a father for the first-time.” Rickey’s quick to say this, and I realized in that very moment of 2-3 seconds of answering that there was a strong appreciation and gravity of becoming a father.

He shares how it was at this moment that he had to provide for someone else, not just himself.

Looking back at your time in the military and fatherhood, how has one impacted the other?

“Definitely being in the military made me a better father. When I first started… when I first became a father, I was doing military, and I sucked at it. My oldest daughter, she’ll tell you, ‘you weren’t good at it’, and for the most part, she wasn’t either!” He laughs at this.

“The military forced me to become an adult. Forced me to be a man, and to handle my responsibilities the correct way. And so now, I’m better for it — a better person, a better father.”

Do you have any big life regrets?

“Not in the sense of ‘I wish I could have done this better’, but definitely I would’ve joined the military before college. Student loans are RIDICULOUS right now.”

I ask him if there’s anything else… any other life regrets that might come to mind. Rickey responds, “Not really. I like the way life’s played out for me. It’s good. I joined the military — got school paid for. I’m married. I’m happy. I have two daughters. They’re wonderful, they’re great. I love life!”

What’s a good lesson or teachable moment for anyone who’s expecting to be a father?

“Patience.” He smiles and laughs briefly.

“Patience is a virtue. Just be patient.” He shares how his first year with his first daughter was really “trying”. He became a father to his first daughter when she was 7, so after the infant and toddler years. It was with his second daughter (first biological) that he really appreciated the need to be patient.

Rickey then adds, “it’s a beautiful experience — watching your kids grow. How they come into their personalities…” He smiles and holds his hand to his chin like he’s recalling his children’s growth.

What did you dream about last night? (Thanks to Katherine, Stranger 18)

Rickey laughs and thinks about this for a second before telling me how he was dreaming of what his next step would be. He’s appreciated his current position and opportunity, but it’s clear he’s looking for something bigger next. I realize for a second that I should build on this, but before I can, he wanted to ask his question to tomorrow’s Stranger…

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“Where have you been?” This was an interesting question… seems like Rickey is as intrigued about how people respond to an otherwise uncommon question. I’m now very curious how tomorrow’s Stranger responds to this. I’ll have to make sure I ask in an incredulous tone, not possessive boyfriend kind of way. Haha

Now, stepping back, I asked him what was his dream.

“My dream is to finish x-ray school, and go back to get my bachelor’s. Then from there, enroll in PA school. My goal is to become a surgical PA.”

“I like how the body works. In x-ray, we’re in the back, we don’t get to see the action. They call us in to take a picture, then we go back out so the doctor can finish whatever it is. I like to see how the body works. I want to see the inside — I want to touch and feel the organs, and to put it all back together. That intrigues me.”

This was fun to learn about Rickey. As he describes this dream and goal, his face lights up and he’s using hand gestures. For a moment, I ignore the pictures in my head of organs (no thanks), and I stare and absorb what he’s sharing with me. He’s sharing a real passion and interest with me. You can see this in his facial expression. You can hear it in his voice. You can see it in how his whole body moves to show me how he would operate.


After the handshake.

The final question about Rickey’s dream was special. Or rather, his response was special. This. This is what’s so special about connecting with Strangers — with a simple question, you can see how people are so optimistic and excited about their futures. They’re excited about something that they love, and they want to share that excitement. Indeed, I felt the excitement with Rickey, too.

The moment we met, I realized Rickey’s kindness, and some energy about his happiness with life. He didn’t seem like he was content with his life to stay this way forever, but instead, he seemed like he had a realization that he was on his path. It was… something interesting to just hear his progression over the last several years through the military, through fatherhood, through studies, and beyond. I’m thrilled I got to know him better, and I wish there was a way to have captured and transcribed his energy and passion as he described his Dream.

Meet Rickey. No longer a Stranger.

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