Company Officer Development
r s a r W alking a quarter mile from my temporary desk job at fire headquarters to the train today, I saw a man in front of me drop
a receipt on the sidewalk. I caught up to him in a
few quick steps and told him about it (thinking it
might be important). He looked at me as he held
the remainder of the contents from his pockets (that
he was rummaging through) in his hands and said,
“I know,” but he thanked me just the same. (Ahhh,
only in New York; I know I just intentionally threw
garbage on the ground and intentionally polluted
when there’s a garbage can less than 15 feet away but
hey, thanks for noticin’ mistah!)
At the next corner, I noticed a female police officer
standing at a crosswalk. As we were about to make
eye contact, a woman jumped out of a car yelling to
someone. I immediately turned toward the woman
while the police officer turned to look at who (or
what) she was screaming at. As the officer and I
simultaneously turned and looked in the opposite
directions, we both surmised that the woman was
simply calling to two young elementary aged girls that
she apparently was picking up. As our heads turned to
take in the scene, our eyes met. I said hello to the officer, and she smiled back. The crosswalk sign changed
from a red hand to a white person walking. (Humph,
how come they’re not green anymore? Whatever happened to red means stop, green means go, and yellow
means go faster?!) Anyway, I digress. Continuing my
trek toward the train, I arrived at the station (this one
is called a terminal because, well, it’s the last stop for
some trains yet at the same time the first stop for others (hmmm, that makes sense!).
Approaching the outward-swinging glass doors at
the terminal (a.k.a. station), the woman ahead of me
held the door as she walked through it, and I in turn
held it for a young mother who had both her hands
full and a baby hanging on her chest in one of those
reverse-backpack looking baby carrying thingies (I am
sure there’s an official name for them but I’ve been
out of the baby business for more than two decades—
and we didn’t have them back then).
At the next set of outward-swinging glass doors, a
woman with a double baby stroller was coming out.
The woman in front of me (who had previously held
the door for me) and the three people in front of her
patiently held the door and waited for the woman
with the stroller to pass through (while holding the
door open for her). I then stepped aside to let the
young mother and her “front pack” baby pass, as did
the others (ah, humanity at its best). Then, I continued down the stairs to the train platform.
Because of the mostly cloudy skies, the 55°F
temperature, and the accompanying cool breeze, I
had a light jacket covering my uniform. Surely no
one on my 15-minute walk knew I was a firefighter.
If they had seen the uniform, they probably would’ve
assumed that those several gestures of kindness were
because I was a firefighter. And then BAM! Viola!
DOINK! It hit me like an acorn falling from a tree.
WHICH CAME FIRST?
I didn’t (and don’t) do the right thing because I’m
a firefighter, I am a firefighter because I do the right
thing. I am positive that almost every one of you
reading this could say the same thing if you stopped
to think about it.
What draws us to this calling of firefighting is a
yearning, or perhaps it’s an inherent need, to offer
assistance and help others. For most, it’s probably a
Doing the Right Thing
Because it’s the right thing to do
I didn’t (and don’t) do the right thing because
I’m a firefighter, I am a firefighter because I do
the right thing. I am positive that almost every
one of you reading this could say the same
thing if you stopped to think about it.