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As I wind down my career in the best calling and the best profession that I could have hoped for, I constantly count my blessings. This week was no exception and I so enjoyed myself. What a GREAT week!!!

This week, I and our MDA boot drive kickoff team had the privilege of visiting all of our department members, the BIG team, on three shifts, a total of twenty-one, brief, informal, productive multi-company meetings. At some of the meetings, I had to ask a young Firefighter for their driver’s license because there is no way that they are old enough to be in the fire department. Time does go by.

I so appreciated and enjoyed the opportunity to see everyone, have fellowship, and to see and listen to their excitement as we, once again, step up for the good of those who really need us and appreciate our efforts.

At one of the meetings, I was speaking to a young Firefighter and the discussion was about the fine lunch that they had been provided for us and the fine meal they were preparing for dinner. We discussed great cooks and how they take such pride in their calling. We talked of our Grandmothers and our Mothers and how we both wished that we could make food taste as good as they did.

The young Firefighter had fond memories of his trips to his Grandmother’s house to enjoy her fried chicken. I asked if she ever gave him the recipe for the chicken and he replied that she had not. I then asked if he understood why she had never shared her recipe with him and he did not. I told him that our Grandmothers and our Mothers didn’t share their special cooking secrets because they wanted us to keep coming back for more. To them, it was not about the chicken but their pleasure in watching us enjoy their special meal and more importantly the great time that they got to spend with us.

The fire house kitchen is a special place for learning, just like Grandmother’s kitchen. Many exceptional fire house cooks still fry chicken in experienced cast iron pans. They also still apply their special seasoning to the chicken using a brown grocery bag. They also cook with patience.

Young people will not get the recipe for fried chicken handed to them, it doesn’t work that way. However, if young people will offer help in the kitchen by washing dishes, cutting up vegetables, making tea, setting the table with pride and offer sincere thanks to the cook, maybe, in time, the cook will feel your sincerity and help teach you someday to fry chicken. To receive their secret recipes you must be a willing learner, patient and honest. Your commitment to the success of the meal must be second only to that of the chicken.

All great cooks start out as helpers with eyes and ears open.

Get started early, work smarter, harder and longer. Do more than “your share” and be committed.

Earn recipes, respect and team membership. All will serve you well as you learn to cook.

Dishwater, a brief broom dance, appreciation and fellowship will never tarnish your uniform hardware.

What is in your paper bag? How experienced is your pan?

 How will you EARN to learn?

 Give more than you ask for, pay it forward, be humble and NEVER get in the food line before the cook.

Have a great day – it’s a GREAT day for it.

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