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June 15, 2010

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The difference is that they provide A PUBLIC SERVICE

Gd, so do lots of other people. Librarians, social workers, bus drivers, public health doctors, government workers of all sorts. And police are being paid for their public service. As the letter writer said, unpaid volunteers deserve much more thanks for their service than people who are performing a paid job.

Here's the part you missed, Brian:
Although untrained, unprotected Samaritans deserve special honor, it doesn't really matter if someone's getting paid or not, a simple expression of gratitude for a job well-done is actually more about the graciousness and civility of the "thanker" than it is about the duty or volunteerism of the "thanked."
If I'm gracious enough to thank and tip my barista for my coffee, I'm sure as hell going to thank a fireman for running into a burning building, even if he has hours of training, a good salary and lots of protective gear.
Furthermore (and by way of disclaimer): My father was a fireman. Like most kids, I just considered it his job, until one time when I was a teenager there was a fire in our neighborhood and I watched him (in street clothes) assisting the other firefighters on the roof of the fully engaged old wood house. The experience took my innate teenage disrespect down several notches and not just with regard to him. I also had something of an epiphany about my mother's ability to handle all those years of wondering WHETHER HE'D MAKE IT BACK from each shift - and perhaps therein lies the critical difference of the high-risk professions - police officers, firefighters, soldiers (and yes, loggers and fishermen).
All jobs are not the same and the delineator is not just the pay.
I find Sumser's statement that [issues of morality, courage and sacrifice are ridiculous when you're getting paid] is itself ridiculous.

Trish, I resonate with your perspective -- and personal experience. My main point is simply that police work and firefighting aren't any more dangerous than driving a taxi, according to the statistics. Yet most people ascribe more moral points to dramatic, highly visible professions than to those where people simply go to work every day out of the public eye and risk their lives -- like logging or fishing.

This leads to a certain uncritical attitude of "they can't do wrong," when, of course, they can (speaking of police officers and fire fighters, for example). And I think we also should recognize those who do shitty jobs that have to be done, which often have much worse working conditions than public safety jobs. For example, the last time a septic tank guy came out to work at our house, I was reminded of how difficult and nasty this job can be.

You're right, nobody should get "hero pass" just because of their uniform. Domestic violence in police families is at least twice the average (similarly, with soldiers returning from combat). War, whether inner city or international, seems to do that to people. And they're all just people behind the badges and labels.
I don't think the fatality statistics are very high for septic tank guys - but what a way to go (no pun intended, but since it's there, I'll leave it). But, I agree, they definitely deserve special thanks.

I am one of those who worked a thankless job that was in every way as dangerous as any policemans or firemans jobs.

I once took a job out of desperation working graveyards in a convenience store...in the worst part of town because it was a job that was immediately available and I needed to pay that four-letter word called rent(contrary to public opinion, sometimes we have NO choices when we need to pay rent and put food on the table).

Every single night I went to that job (I lasted 6 months which is amazing in itself. Trying to sleep while the rest of the world is having it's noisy dayfest is NOT an easy feat) I wondered if that would be my last night alive. Would this be the night someone puts a gun in my face, or I get raped, whatever. The point is the high tension in that job didn't come from having more work then I could handle, graveyard was a breeze in that respect. The tension came from again, having in the back of your head that that night may be your last.

I wasn't allowed a gun to protect myself, I most certainly didn't make 30.00 an hour, and my customers weren't coming in the next day and saying "Glad to see you here today. What you do isn't easy, thanks for being here today to serve us".

All jobs ARE the same. What makes the difference is that one evil thing that rules this society. The Money thing. It boils down to the fact that I was considered a nobody because I made minimum wage and the cop is considered a better (more noble etc etc) person then I am because he makes a lot more money then most people think.

Marcy, great comment. Next time I go into a convenience store (especially at night) I'll think of your experience. You made some excellent points. There are a lot of unsung heroes out there who are doing dangerous and thankless jobs who deserve just as much praise as cops and firefighters.

Also, keep in mind that these people are choosing to do a job to serve the public and they all attempt to save lives and property. They did not sign up to pick books from shelves , or chop trees. They chose a job that might not always be dangerous, but they attempt to do something that will help others in some way. Its just EMT's: not all of them have saved a life, but their intent is to have the opportunity to change someone's life forever. And get paid for it.

For that, emergency personnel deserve more credit.

All who toil – whether out of sheer basic necessity or a drive to build something bigger than themselves – deserve to be thanked. Alabama said it best in ‘40 Hour Week’: “Working TOGETHER like spokes inside a wheel, they keep this country turning around.” The common laborer is America’s unsung hero. Most of us are the product of parents and grandparents who were unsung heroes in the building of this country.

Some of those parents and grandparents were police and military. To say that police don’t deserve special thanks is absurd. If any other entire profession walks off the job tomorrow, the wheel that is America will be bent but unbroken. If police and military walk off the job tomorrow, the wheel will fall apart. Think Afghanistan. Think lawless Somalia. Without rule of law, what’s an entrepreneur like Red and Black’s John Langley going to run in Somalia…the Red and Black Pirate Ship??

In sad irony, just over a year ago the Red & Black café in Middletown, CT experienced the murder of one of its cashiers – a 21 year old student who deserved to be thanked but got a bullet instead. Due to the pressure of an intense police manhunt, the shooter turned himself in two days later. http://www.middletownpress.com/articles/2010/05/06/news/doc4be2333d4b88b601383745.txt

Now, thanks to John Langley’s ignorance, Middletown’s Red & Black Café has been at the receiving end of public feedback intended for him. Their website’s message is eloquently stated as follows: “We pride ourselves for being a cafe that is open to everyone. To act differently is not simply bad business, it's just mean. We obviously have a SPECIAL respect and gratitude for our local officers who helped us through a tragic event.” http://www.redblackcafe.com/

Yeh..well, did I ever tell you about the time I had a male customer acting all threatening, banging on the door so hard I thought he was going to break it. All jacked up at 3 in the morning because I had the nerve to lock the door so that I could go to the restroom. Wouldn't listen when I explained it wasn't safe for me to leave the doors open while I went in the back room, wouldn't listen when I explained that it was my managers POLICY for us night clerks to lock the door whenever we went in the back, even if only for a few minutes( We had just had a robbery before I was hired in which a guy with duct tape all over his face watched the clerk go in the back and followed him in back there, which I also explained to the asshole was the reason for the new policy). JerkOff didn't want to listen to anything, just wanted to verbally harangue me. Finally I interrupted his non-stop rant and asked him what he wanted. I wasn't gonna stand there and take his abuse. Well, he apparently didn't like my show of disrespect at interrupting him and called me an effing bitch (hey, sometimes in a job like that you NEED to be) at which point I told him our interaction was terminated and I wasn't serving him ANYTHING and if he didn't go I would call the cops (not that I had much faith after previous interactions, which is another post entirely), he left allright, I kept the phone in my hand as I followed him out to the door and locked it behind him. At that point my anger boiled over and I yelled through the glass that I felt sorry for his wife. Ha ha asshole didn't like THAT at all. Well, I don't like men like him that think they can verbally abuse women and expect them to take it meekly and silently. Sorry bub...I'm pretty sure if I was a shrinking violet in the first place I wouldnt have gotten this job :-P

So I call the cops because by now the guys banging on the window again and I'm more enraged at this guys balls then scared, so I'm gonna sic the cops on him. Well, the cop on the phone obviously didn't think the loud banging on the doors was menacing ENOUGH and never even showed UP. Um...what else do you have to do at 3 on a weeknight morning ? Things that make you go hmmmmmm, INDEED !

The very next night though when some customers found a small dog wandering the parking lot they called the cops because they didn't know what else to do and the cops were there in like 3 minutes.

It's nice to know where a minimum wage worker who lives in North Salem ranks in the pecking order, isn't it ? Even under a dogs health and safety.

It is for reasons like these that I don't automatically give cops respect.

I think that the way people think of cops relates to their own personal experience. If you are one of those pod people minivan types that the cops NEVER EVER pester, you know, the ones who have the right hair, "attitude" (I put that in quotes, because to cops a good attitude about cops is nothing less then utter worship no matter WHAT they've ever done to you or anyone you've loved) subservient to the man mentality, it's easier for you to have a positive spin on the cops. But if you've been poor and been hassled for car insurance practically everytime you pulled out of your driveway simply because you're poor and have to drive an old car, if you look the least bit different, if you talk like you've still got some spirit inside that hasn't been broken by the man yet, they will suss it out and do their best to finish the job.

That is the real job of the police that most people do not realize because a lot of people just don't think anymore outside their pods (oops, I mean cookie cutter McMansions). The police are here mainly to protect the rich from the poor (how many rich people are overcrowding our jails ? hmmm) and to break peoples spirit and to get everyone into a herd-sheep-mentality mindset so that as a whole we are more easily controlled. The police and the powers that be KNOW there are more of us then them but that doesn't bother them in the slightest as they know the sheep police each other back into the pen (prison ?) and the strays almost always meekly go because the number one thing that keeps people from truly expressing themselves (that's if there's anything LEFT to express at that point lol..never give up your mind) is this : What will people think ??? What will my co-workers and neighbors think if I express this different viewpoint ??? What will they think if I do ANYTHING different then they do ???

Or to use myself as the example, you guys could try to ridicule or assasinate my character to get me back into the sheep pen if the mere nudging didn't work (which it wouldn't..been down that road too many times to count lol). You could tell me I was paranoid, that I should get my tin hat and be done with it. Then I would tell you to get your Brain hat..the one that forces you to use that thing between your ears. We would go round and round because I never give up and I've kept my spirit and no amount of trying to get me to be like everyone else with their heads in the sand and they're 1984 ways will ever work.

So I'm sorry if this was a seriously long post, but I had a lot to say, so thank you blogger Brian for allowing me to say it.

Peace.

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