What kind of job has “kindness” as its main qualification and “serving” at its very core. You might say, police officers, doctors or nurses and all are honorable professions but no, the profession I’m thinking of that exemplifies both kindness and serving every day – both on duty and off duty, are firefighters.
Firefighters are solid, confident and re-assuring. They’ve got your back no matter the situation. House on fire? They show up within minutes and upon arrival, they work steady and confidently with a “we’ve got this” attitude. And you know what? They do. Medical emergency? There’s nothing more comforting in a dire situation than to have paramedics trained beyond training, working to help someone you love. They’re quiet, confident and once again, reassuring. Their calm demeanor brings the anxiety level down maybe just a notch (it’s all still scary) but they help make it a little less scary. Car wreck? Who hasn’t seen a fire engine on the side of the freeway helping crash victims or at the very least cleaning up broken glass or a wayward car part or two. They save and they serve with no fanfare and without asking for any type of recognition except to do their job.
Do these chivalrous acts have to be big to be important? Absolutely not. The simplest act of kindness shouts volumes to the one on the receiving end. For example, I live in the great City of Plano, and I think the Plano Fire Department is one of the absolute best. Even though they’re one of the biggest departments around, they serve one citizen in need at a time with integrity and professionalism. Plano Fire Rescue Association is an organization that supports Plano firefighters through scholarships, annual family picnic, etc., etc. One of their events is a Treats for Turkey fundraiser with activities for the family and part of the program is someone dressed in a turkey costume and posing for pictures and interacting with the children. At the end of the day in November, the costume was placed on a hanger ready to go back to the costume company, but Captain Peggy Harrell, at the risk of being late to her next event, asked that the costume not be brought out to her truck until all the children had left the grounds. She didn’t want to ruin their experience by their seeing the turkey was just someone dressed in a costume. A big thing? You might say not but I thought that was incredibly thoughtful and KIND. Before the volunteers left, a picture was to be made of everyone who worked that day. I took my place at the back and as always happens when taking a group picture, people began moving around and someone volunteered to take the picture so the photographer could be in the picture herself. As chance would have it, she took her place right in front of me and didn’t duck, effectively blocking me completely out of the picture. It would have been great to be in the picture, but I wasn’t going to make a big deal of it either – I knew everyone was in a hurry. But wait, Snozzle, one of the firefighter clowns standing next to me, realized what had happened and he gently put his arm around me and pulled me over to where I made it into the picture. A big deal? Maybe not to anyone else, but it was to me! A little act of kindness that impressed me so, I’m writing about two months later. And yes – they save cats from trees and pets from burning houses and as in the picture, give them oxygen and water to help them along.
The next time you see a firefighter, take a minute and thank them for what they do. They’re always giving away kindness expecting nothing in return but wouldn’t it be nice to surprise them and give some back to them? Try it and see the smiles you get in return. Let them know in a world that sometimes seems devoid of the basic niceties, how much their kindness is appreciated.