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The friend Levi knew to never put on speaker phone - Chad Smith

I can just imagine that Levi is probably cringing about what I might write. A couple weeks ago, we were talking. I asked him, "Am I on speakerphone." He responded, "Chad, I know to NEVER put you on speaker phone."



Levi and I were total opposites, especially when we first met. We were partners on an ambulance. I was just annoying, obnoxious, and lacked emotional maturity. Levi was very put together emotionally and physically. Levi had intrapersonal skills that I lack. Levi was a deep thinker, I'm a Readers Digest thinker. Our commonality was mostly speaking a foreign language and having lived in Europe. I have often wondered why he wanted a friendship.


If I had to describe Levi, I would say, "STUD." Levi was the ultimate athlete but was too intelligent to be a jock. But his intelligence didn't keep him in the clouds; he had common sense. He was a wonder (sort of like me) but had this commitment to relationships and stability. He was competitive, but not arrogant. He had a quirky sense of humor. We had run a call together where the patient was Russian speaking only and having a stroke. I was the shining star on the call because of my knowledge of Russian was able to get the patient appropriate treatment reversing the stroke. A couple of weeks later, he worked an overtime shift. He had a German only speaking patient that he was able to have successful treatment due to his German ability. He called me and let me know that he was the shining star on that call! HAHA! Levi always brought his lunch. Once he brought this huge piece of Lemon Meringue Pie. I started staring him down for a bite of this pie. I stated, “Are you really going to eat that in front of me?” He responded, “Yes!” Then proceeded to shove this pie in his mouth. If that wasn’t enough, he turned his head towards me and licked the meringue off his lips.


I'm a horrible debater but am opinionated. One thing I always admired about Levi is he could be indifferent without having an opinion. But Levi knew how to get me going. One time he brought up the theology of Calvinism. I'm not a Calvinist. We debated that issue forever then finally just accepted our differences. Around this same time, my parents were coming for a visit. Levi knew how I loved to annoy my parents. He gave me a book on Calvinism entitled TULIP to have sit strategically placed in my house. It worked like a charm. But if Calvinism was Gospel and I was God, I too would elect Levi Wilkins.


Levi inspired me to achieve more than being a paramedic. He inspired me to seek higher education. So, when were weren’t debating the tents of Calvinism, I roped him into proofreading my papers for school. If I have any elegance in my writing skills, the credit is due in part to Levi and Emily. The deeper thought processes and achievement of a degree has led me to obtain critical care certifications, achieve greater career success, and open doors to many new opportunities.


Levi always had my back. Once on the ambulance, we were hit by a drunk driver. Levi anticipated the collision. Instead of the other vehicle ramming into the passenger side door (where I was sitting), he gunned the throttle to spare me the impact. The impact pushed the other vehicles motor to the firewall. Levi was the upmost professional towards the inebriated driver who was shouting obscenities towards Levi. Me, not being the professional, yell to this individual something that wouldn’t be appropriate on speaker phone. I was standing right beside Levi and all he could do was shake his head. Due to Levi’s intrapersonal skills, He was able to diffuse many situations for me. He was loyal to me. In all reality, he should have let me sink.


After we separated and went our ways, we remained friends and became closer even though we didn’t see each other regularly. Levi became a confidant. On rare occasions, he would flatter me and solicit my advice. He gave me some solid advice over the years. When I had my cancer scare, Levi really supported me. My ordeal was nothing compared to his experience. I know that much has been said and published about his miracle, but in my mind, he had been a champion long before slapping the <insert a MADEA line that Levi would understand> out of cancer.


I’m not sure how to show my gratitude to Levi for his loyalty, for his friendship, for becoming a brother to me, for seeing potential in me that others didn’t see. But Levi was a straight up STUD! His temperament, intellect, physical abilities, and intrapersonal skills are always something I have and always will admire. But the one challenge he would never accept is putting me on speakerphone.

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