As many of you can attest, our handicap and our environment can sometimes be our best assets. Many of you have overcome many of those things and have accomplished so many great things that have benefitted so many others.
While not necessarily a great thing, here is a lesson that I learned about overcoming environmental and physical difficulties in my quest for an appointment to the New York State Troopers Academy.
There were two things that I had to overcome in order to be offered an appointment with the Troopers. One was that I had to learn to broad jump and the other was that I had to practice under the low ceiling of my father’s basement.
Shortly after getting a job in DuPont’s Sodium Shop in the 1980s, I took and aced the test to become a trooper. My score, plus the five points for being a veteran and my alphabetical ranking, placed me as No. 11 in the state. It was a great first step to an appointment, but my merely having that high score was not enough to get into the academy. Two more important steps had to be taken before being offered the job. An interview would follow the passing of a physical examination.
The physical required the candidate to do pull-ups, pushups, lift dumbbells with each hand, run an obstacle course and, get this, do a 13-foot broad jump. In those days, I was 175-pounds of muscle and a mean, fighting machine and only expected to have a problem with the pull-ups.
As a sailor, I exercised almost daily. I would even run the decks out to sea. Because of there never being a need and the difficulty of practicing broad jumping on a moving, pitching and rolling ship, I never practiced it at all. But now I had to practice and the weather conditions meant that I would have to do so under the low ceiling of my father’s basement.