So on a usual saturday morning routine of doing errands I am in a hardware store, and looking for something in the aisles i hear the following conversation between two men….”so we can’t have these where I live because the fire department won’t allow them, the bunch of lazy bastards….”. I don’t know what item he was talking about because I did not see it, and I walked away disgusted.
As I perused the next aisle it was eating me alive, so I walked back an aisle to where the two men were and I said” I couldn’t help but hear you before, I have been a firefighter for 35 years and I have never really thought of myself as a lazy bastard”. He commented that it was none of my business he wasn’t talking to me, and “all firemen do is sit on their ass and wait for an emergency.”
I told him I forgave him for his comment and that I hoped he never ever needed the fire department for a fire or medical emergency because if he did it would mean that something horrible was happening to him, his family or his property, and then I walked away. An old adage came to mind that said never argue with a fool, because nobody will be able to tell which is which.
As I drove home, I could not help but wonder, what toxic thing had angered this man so much against his local fire department? How many other people has he caustically spread his venom to?
Does his local department even know that that could be a public perception about them? Do they care?
We will never please everyone that we serve, and I am clearly aware of that after all these years, but I have not had an encounter like this in a long time.
You see he wasn’t just slandering his own department, he was slandering all of us. Firefighters everywhere.
Take some time this week and make sure you do not give the citizens you serve any reason to think like this man.
Do public education.
Provide home inspection and free smoke detectors to those in need.
Help at the local food bank.
Help disabled veterans, and all veterans.
Help the elderly and children.
…and many other things…
If your community is looking for a positive example, let them be able to find it at the fire department, before they ever dial 911. I know it will be a positive experience after they need our help.
Stay safe, and stay thinking!