Be the first man.
I have often been asked throughout my career as a fireman how I do it. “How do you run into those burning buildings? Aren’t you afraid?”
FEAR! It is a life draining emotion. It is what keeps you from accomplishing and doing and starting. It is excessively protective. It is how animals think…the kind of animals that get eaten. Fear is destructive in that it prevents you from doing anything at all other than running away or curling up into a fetal position and sucking your thumb.
Fear thrives on pessimism and complaining but is tempered by courage. The man who faces the challenges in front of him and holds his head high, walking with the straight back of courage, is neither pessimistic nor fearful. Contrast that with the man who sits on the couch watching the world go by and just waiting for something to happen to him. He moves through his day defeated and almost mournful, neither noticing nor appreciating the beauty around him…or the opportunities. The first man makes $h!t happen…the second one watches as $h!t happens to him. Which are you? Which do you want to be? The choice is not in the circumstances, it is up to you.
Let me tell you about my father, Michael G. Sulak. He lost everything to communism in 1956. Had he chosen to be the second man, and he had every right to be, he would have no doubt died of grief as so many Hungarians his age did. Instead he chose to be the first man in the sort of environment that few Americans could not imagine. Think of The Great Depression era environment coupled with a Nazi Germany level of oppression – that was post revolution Hungary. In that environment he became an outlaw. The Avo (Hungarian Secret Police) would harass him constantly. Not wanting to fall under the tyranny of communism, he gathered some friends and shot his way across the border, escaping into Austria and leaving his father, mother, brother and sister behind. He came to this continent with nothing, but he built a business by his trade and retired at the age of 83 a very successful man. Why? Because he was the first man and not the defeated complaining second man. Growing up we never lacked a thing…never went hungry, never were homeless, or without education, resources or opportunity.
So it is from that environment that I come. His work ethic and values helped shape me into the man I am today. He modeled the first man to me. Many fire fighters are “first men” because the job requires that we make $h!t happen instead of watch $h!t happen. When running into that burning building, fear may be present (I’d be lying to say that it isn’t), but it is tempered by courage and training. ‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.’ ~ Ambrose Redmoon. So be the first man in every aspect of your life!
Here is a recipe you need some courage to tackle. It is not something you want to eat every day, but once in a while it is okay, like the old saying: “All things in moderation!”
Suey’s Spicy Triple Bypass Hot Link Burger
By Michael “Suey” Sulak, Seattle Fire Department, Station 8, Ladder 6
3 jalapeno peppers
½ cup crushed Doritos® Spicy Tortilla Chips
2 lbs. ground beef
1 egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoons garlic salt
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine
½ cup sweet onion, minced
1 tablespoon A1 Steak Sauce®
1 tablespoon Tabasco® Brand Garlic Pepper Sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ cup Hungarian slab bacon, finely chopped and fried almost crisp
8 hot links
16 strips bacon
8 hoagie rolls
Preheat the grill to medium high heat or get the coals hot on your BBQ. Now roast the jalapeno peppers until charred on all sides. Immediately place them in a brown paper bag and fold over the top to seal. Let the peppers “sweat” in the bag for 10 minutes or more until the charred skins peel off easily. Remove the stem ends and chop peppers fine.
Place the Doritos® into a food processor and crush chips finely. Put in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Add the ground beef and the chopped roasted jalapeno peppers to the crushed Doritos® in the mixing bowl, along with the next 10 ingredients. Combine the ingredients by mixing well with your hands.
Boil the hot links in water for 7 minutes. Take some ground beef mixture and wrap around each hot link, squeezing to pack into a firm oblong shape, covering the link completely. Wrap each link covered “burger” with two strips of bacon, securing with toothpicks. Grill on medium high heat for about 12 minutes, turning occasionally, until beef is cooked and bacon is browned. Serve on hoagie rolls with your favorite condiments. Makes 8 “burgers.”
**Note: The term “Beanery” is still alive and well in the Seattle Fire Department and is still the name we apply to the kitchen today. Because of low wages early in SFD’s history, the firefighters could often only afford to buy beans for their meals. Beans were cheap and provided a high source of protein. The procedure was to soak the beans overnight and simmer them all day long in the kitchen…thus the term “Beanery.”