Author: Bach, Gene

Unsung Heroes

For nearly 30 years I either sat on, or drove a fire engine up and down the state of California. It was a great job, and I had a lot of fun doing it. It was always nice to charge into a “not so good” situation, take care of business, and leave as the good guy. I have some cop friends, even a son-in-law in the Highway Patrol, and I’m always teasing them about firemen being the good guys and they being the bad guys. I get a lot of mileage out of that.

One of the things we heard all the time was how we were heroes. We in the firehouse never considered ourselves to be that. We were just folks who came to work, did a job and went home. We had quite a few conversations about that subject over the years, and us smoke-eaters had an entirely different take on the hero thing. So today, I thought I’d write just a little on that subject. I think there are a lot of heroes in this world: but most of them are completely unknown, or, at best, slightly noticed. Most are simply taken for granted.

Number 1 on my hero list is anybody who serves in the military…especially the ones in a combat zone. To the best of my recollection nobody was ever intentionally trying to kill us fire folks, but the military people put up with that on a daily basis. These folks receive a lot of bad press from those with certain political agendas, but without them we’d be in a world of hurt. But still, these aren’t the ones I was alluding to earlier.

When I think about the heroes around us I have a long list of people in mind. How about the garbage collector? I seriously consider them to be some of the most important people in the world. I have the ability to take my trash to the dump on my own: others do not. For those who don’t…what would happen if the garbage collector stopped coming? How would you like to have a big mound of rotting trash surrounding your porch? Those folks are heroes.
For those who’s h
ouses are not on a septic system, ever wonder what happens when you flush the toilet? Guess what: those floaties don’t magically disappear into thin air; they are transported to a wastewater treatment facility where they are processed and disposed of. Somebody there, real live people, have the job of making that happen. How would you like it if they decided to shut down the flow and told you to take care of your own “byproducts”? Those folks are heroes.

Ever take a plane trip? Ever stop to think about how many people it take to get you safely from point “A” to point “B” each time? We whine about the inconveniences at the airport. We whine if the plane is late. Let’s face it: we whine about almost everything. But, how many of us have ever said “thank you” when things go right? My hat is off to the folks behind the scenes at the airport. Those folks are heroes.

When you fill your gas tank, do you ever think about the guy out on the oil rig working in the middle of the night when it’s twenty degrees and the wind is howling? When you buy that big slab of salmon on sale at the market, do you ever think about the person in the hold of a processing ship filleting that meat off the fish? When you turn on your light switch, do you ever think about the lineman climbing a pole in a lightning storm while the rain and wind beat him unmercifully?

I do. You know what? In my mind those folks are heroes. They’re all people who go to work, do their job and don’t ever expect any words of praise. The world is full of people like that. People who do the best they can with what they are given. People who don’t get thanked. People who nobody knows, or much cares about.

Those people are the real heroes.

Posted:  11/24/2009

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email