With the Thanksgiving season here I had an opportunity to reflect on things. A lot of us don’t realize that Thanksgiving isn’t just a time to eat great food and a whole lot of it, (well part of it is). But it also represents a time to reflect, a time to look back and look at yourself now and be thankful of where you were to where you are now.
As Fireman we aren’t often thanked, we find ourselves under constant scrutiny and have to fall victim of today’s “political ways” which we like to call “customer service.” We put fourth an effort to be public servants and put ourselves out there to live our passion. We take time away from our lives and from our families to uphold the mission that we are sworn to do, which is to serve, to protect, to perform our duty to the best and safest ability we can. That is a lot to ask of mankind and yet we do it knowing that there will be public scrutiny. As an example of what transpired with the internet video that went viral this past spring; where there was a man seemingly harassing the fireman who were loading the Engine up with the groceries they just purchased for their shift. As many of us, our first reaction was anger, we were enraged at the fact that this person had the audacity to harass our brothers just for simply buying groceries for the station. However, did anyone take the time to watch how our brothers in that video conducted themselves, they held true to what we know now as “Customer Service” they listened to the man’s uneducated rant and were very polite to him, despite the fact that he ridiculed them to all hell. A story like that is one example of what can or has transpired today. Throughout the country today, our fireman are at a local grocery purchasing their Thanksgiving meal because they have to be away from their home family and be with their work family. Yet still they face the very possibility that they will be greeted by a member of society who will harass them and discredit them for why they are there or how it’s a “waste of tax payer money.” The point here is that we do what we do without the thought of getting a thank you, we do most of what we do knowing that at some point someone may question us about it, or be uneducated to our under marketed mission that they felt the need to insult us for being out in public shopping. We still do our jobs, despite how thankless it is sometimes, I think that’s what makes those few moments when someone says “Thank You” worth all the bs we trudged through all year.
Some of you are volunteers, I can bet that at some point today there will be a call for smoke in the kitchen from unattended cooking, or a CO Alarm chirped and needs new batteries, or the possibility of a fire (which God spares doesn’t happen on a day like this) and you will excuse yourself from that amazing meal that you and your family prepared all day and leave your families so you can answer that call. A part of you will feel bad for the person who is having the emergency, saying to yourself “man that sucks that their Thanksgiving is ruined.” Selflessly not even realizing that you subjected yourself to not being able to enjoy yours either, all so you could help that person. Some of you are career fireman, and are scheduled to work today. Maybe you had to do Thanksgiving a day early or the day after in your house because you have to work today. Your family is making the same sacrifice as you, they changed their plans or had to do without you all so you could continue to live your passion and serve you purpose. All of these things may not seem like the fireman’s job is a thankful job, but I’m about to tell you why it is by giving you what I’m thankful for.
I am thankful for my health, it may not be the best of health but like an old car with a lot of miles it gets me from A-B and it get the job done.
I am thankful for my wife, she may give me grief that I’m not home enough but she understands my passion and supports me the entire journey.
I’m thankful for my brother and sister fireman, because they share in the same hardships that I do on a day like this where I have to be absent from my immediate family in order to protect someone else’s.
I’m thankful for my job, I can remember 14 years ago I was a volunteer and answered my first unattended cooking/smoke in the kitchen call on Thanksgiving. I remember saying to the Chief, “there’s call’s even on Thanksgiving” (as if emergencies took the day off for holidays). I am thankful because never did I think I’d come this far, I used to dress up in my uniform and pretend to be on the job, I’d wish for moments like today’s where I’d get to eat Thanksgiving dinner with my brothers at the fire house even though some think of that as an inconvenience.
I am thankful for my men, they are the ones who are shaping my legacy, and they are the ones who empower me with the ability and trust to lead them.
I am thankful for my parents and my siblings, they never gave up on me and because I was the youngest they made sure I’d stay on the right path and not make the same mistakes they did which is what makes me the man I am today.
Lastly, I am thankful for the blessing of being a Father, every day that I see my daughter is a reminder that I have been blessed, that God has awarded me a great privilege, the privilege of being a father. My daughter mimics everything I do, from facial expressions to the things I say (so I try not to curse around her). She amazes me so much, just the other day we drove passed the fire house that I work at and she pointed and said “Daddy!” I said yes baby, she said “Daddy, Fire Trucks” and the engines weren’t even out front but she knew that’s where I worked and that’s what I rode in when I worked. My wife is pregnant again, and with every new chapter in life comes its challenges, but this one is worth the struggle, we are having a boy. Yet again another thing to be thankful for, God has blessed me with every Father’s dream, his very own boy. I often listen to the Brad Paisley song “Like Me” and my favorite verse is the last one “there’s worse folks to be like, oh he’ll be alright, if he’s anything like me.” My new opportunity is approaching fast, that is the opportunity to do what my parents, my brothers and my sister did for me, I won’t let him make the same mistakes I did, I will appreciate the fact that he and my daughter will allow me to be their leader, to be their hero, to be their example. Wow, what a feeling, knowing that in both parts of your life (home & work) there are people who look up to you for the example and for direction. That is why I’m thankful.
In all that you do, may God bless you and your families, stay say and take care!
Passion in Leading, LLC