The Girl Who Accidentally Found Her Cape

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This week’s blog post feature is from Terri D Sherman, winner of our Superhero contest.

20 years ago it was common to find me sitting on my front porch talking with friends or family about a variety of topics. But when a particular nephew made his regular visit, we’d sit on the porch and talk. Our conversations always ended with the topic “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Although he was just barely 21, it was me that we were talking about.

I come from a military family and the oldest of a patchwork family of seven kids. My maternal great-grandfather fought in World War I. My paternal grandfather, maternal great-uncle, and maternal grandfather all fought in World War II. My father and paternal uncle fought many tours in Vietnam and made a career out of the military. My oldest son is just completing Basic at Fort Sill. The one family member that strikes the most sensitive chord with me is my brother, Private First Class David Walter Kramer, KIA February 27, 1991, in Saudi Arabia in Operation Desert Storm at the age of 20 years old. My constant companion and best friend made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

There is no greater service than what my family has given for our country.

I needed to honor that service. I have been on a life-long search to give honor to my family and country. I needed to find the superhero cape that fit me. We all wear different capes in our lifetime. Capes that give us the illusion of a superpower that helps us succeed in whatever we’re knee deep in. I’ve worn the surgical technician cape, business owner cape, educator cape, executive cape, volunteer cape, and the “Mom” cape, my personal favorite. I like to quietly contribute, without accolades, to make someone’s day better. Though all of these activities and projects gave me a sense of purpose, I still felt that I was missing my calling. This is what my nephew and I would discuss for hours.

Life has a way of taking care of us all. When I became serious about finding my purpose, I resigned from a lucrative executive position, focused on my family and what my next step would be. I wanted to wear a cape that would change my focus; I wanted it to change my world. This search made me extremely restless and I couldn’t keep myself busy enough.

This made my family and friends crazy. It was like I was a very large balloon that someone had just let the air out of and I was flying everywhere, without direction, just waiting to land. It was just then, that I received a phone call from my sister who found an ad in a local newspaper “Hiring Now! 9-1-1 Dispatcher. Apply now…” Jennifer said, “Terri, this will be the perfect job for you! You have to apply.” I questioned why she thought it would be the perfect job for me. Her response, “You take care of everyone you come in contact with, you already know how to do the job.”

I waited until the day the posting closed and submitted my application at 4:57 p.m. at the local sheriff’s office. I left with the attitude, “if it’s meant to be it will be,” convinced that I was not meant to be. One week later, I tested the highest out of 32 candidates. I still wasn’t convinced that I fit the mold.

My first day at my new 9-1-1 Dispatcher job (I still can’t figure out how that happened) I sat in amazement at the young lady that was showing me just a taste of what I would do in a shift. I went home and cried, convinced that I had made a mistake. But my dad didn’t raise a quitter. I went back the next morning and then the next.

That was November 9, 2007, almost eleven years and three agencies later. Turning 50 years young, I am the manager of a joint communications center. I wish I had found this job when I was 20. All other capes I have worn, prepared me for this, the perfect cape.

I have had the privilege of assisting in saving lives. I have had the privilege of being the voice the mother screamed to for help when she found her son died at his own hands. I have had the privilege of being the last voice my first responder heard before he was called home. I have had the privilege of being told I was loved by the father who was able to bring his son back to life. I am a SUPERHERO, not by choice most days, only by circumstance. I will never be able to pay the debt my brother paid, but I hope that I bring some value to the gifts granted to me, the family which I am blessed with, and the country I love passionately.

I am a 9-1-1 Dispatcher, what’s your superpower?

Topics: 911Dispatcher, Communication Centers, I Am 911