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Cool, Calm & Collected

When I was in my mid-twenties, Dixie, (my wife at the time) and I were invited to go on a bus trip to attend the University of Florida vs. Louisiana State University football game in Baton Rouge, LA.

We had recently moved back to the Gainesville area and had entered into the real estate development business. I looked forward to making new friends with those on the trip and doing some networking.

Little did I know that one of these people would become someone very important in my life.

As we pulled out of Gainesville on that Friday morning before Saturday’s game, the adult beverages started flowing. Gaiety was thick in the air; indeed everyone was in the greatest mood. I soon found out that many of Gainesville’s movers and shakers, including some high-ranking officials and business leaders, were on the bus and I was excited to be

them! For sure, I was the ‘new kid on the block’ and was feeling very grateful to my new friend, Toby Webb, for inviting Dixie and me to go on the trip with he and his wife Sarah.

After an hour or so, dice and card games began. Back then, I enjoyed games of chance and I was right in the middle of it as was Toby.

Traveling along I-10 westward towards New Orleans and Baton Rouge, we crossed over into Mississippi as the partying continued.

As is inevitable when drinking adult beverages, ‘nature called’ and I left the games and stepped into the restroom at the back of the bus. While in the restroom, I heard a loud ‘pop’, like someone had set off a firecracker. I assumed that someone was trying to shock me as I was using the facilities. When I exited the restroom, Toby was standing by the door and I said, “What are you trying to do, scaring me with a firecracker like that?!” He looked at me and his eyes got BIG as he said, “Ben, that was a gun being fired!” About that time, I heard somebody shout, “Everybody get out from the back of the bus and get to your seats!” As I headed to my seat, I saw this guy taking his belt off and using it as a tourniquet around the leg of the man who had been shot and was losing blood at a rapid pace.

It was determined that the gunshot was an accident. An undercover cop was going into her handbag attempting to locate her cigarette lighter and accidentally discharged her weapon. But even though this was an accident, pandemonium ensued throughout the bus. Then the ‘tourniquet’ guy (whom I learned was Jim Quincey) went up to the front of the bus and directed the driver to get off the next exit so we could find where the nearest hospital was. Jim then got on the PA system and in a cool, calm, and collected manner explained to everyone about what had happened and what we were going to do. His demeanor calmed the anxiety on the bus.

Once we found out where the hospital was and were on our way there, Jim then got back on the PA and directed us all as to how we were to get off the bus, in the exact and precise manner so as to make it as effective as possible to where the hospital staff could properly get the victim off the bus and into the emergency room.

Needless to say, with Jim’s leadership and the respect he had gained from everyone, we all did as he directed. There is no doubt in my mind and the minds of many others, including the man that was shot, that Jim actions of being cool, calm and collected during this mayhem situation, saved the victim’s life.

As we waited at the hospital, I inquired as to who the man was who had taken charge of this mayhem. I got his name and decided this was someone I needed to know.

When we returned to Gainesville, I went to see Jim and I told him how impressed I was with how he’d handled the difficult situation on the bus. We spent quite a while talking and in doing so, I quickly decided that Jim was the person I wanted as my attorney and mentor. As we finished our conversation, I asked him to be my attorney and I am so glad he said yes. Jim ended up being more than my attorney. He became my business partner, a trusted confidant and, most importantly, a very close friend.

The following ‘truism’ is worth repeating: whoever you surround yourself with will impact your life in ways you are unaware of. Their traits rub off on you. So if you surround yourself with negative people, you will most likely become a negative person. Conversely, surround yourself with positive, uplifting people and they will positively enhance your life from within.

Even though he passed away a few years ago, Jim Quincey will be a positive influence for the remainder of my days. When things get a little out of order in my life, I sense his cool, calm and collected energy easing my anxiety.

I’m glad I met Jim Quincey on that fateful bus ride all those years ago. And I hope that I can be the Jim Quincey in someone else’s life.

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