But I had a surprise in store. I’m always surprised by the folks I get to interview at the park, but what I wasn’t expecting was that the former military guy in the disco wig turns out to be happy to talk philosophy and to joke about it while he does.
It happened when I asked Greg my favorite question, the one about the best advice he’s ever gotten, and he replied, “Never waste an opportunity.” He not only gladly expanded upon that notion, but also told a story of a life not wasted.
More philosophy later, but first, two world changing events that Greg embraced as opportunities to change his world.
Greg grew up as the oldest of three kids in Oswego, New York, eventually graduating from Oswego High and then studying computer engineering at SUNY Plattsburgh and then at ITT before becoming a design engineer for an electronics company in Syracuse. Then the world changed: 9/11. Greg changed with it: he quit his job and took a major pay cut to join the Army. He ended up being assigned to work with early detection systems and was sent for advanced training to Fort Bliss in El Paso.
Greg left behind in New York the woman he wanted to marry, and while in El Paso he bought an engagement ring, intending to propose. However, he described his reaction upon learning that he was about to be deployed overseas: “I called Becky and said, ‘I’m going to fly you to El Paso this weekend. Bring a nice dress because we’re going to get married.’ She just said, ‘What?’”
Not the most romantic proposal ever, but it worked. He picked her up at the El Paso airport and they went straight to the courthouse. “There was nobody else there,” Greg recalled, “no family or friends. It was a wedding just for us, nobody else.” (A recent photo of Greg and Becky)