Have you ever had to ride in the back of an ambulance? Have you ever been so sick that you've needed the help of the paramedics? How about the firemen, has your house ever been on fire? Have you ever stood and watched the home of your neighbours burn to ashes while brave men, go barreling through the flame encased doors to rescue whomever might be left inside? Maybe not, what about the police, have you ever been pulled over for a ticket? Wait! That's not where I was headed.... Lets try again, have you ever been in an accident and needed their help? Have they directed traffic for you, driven you home? Maybe they showed up to break up a brawl between your husband and Josh Duhamel (who would have known Josh would see your Facebook page, decide you were undeniably hot, leave the set of Transformers 3 and fly directly to your door, uninvited, unsolicited - heck you don't even know the guy. Only to come face to face with your sexy and protective husband. Then you decide that two dudes fighting over you isn't really hot, you love your husband, Josh needs to go home to Fergie and you, need a little RCMP intervention)?
Maybe you haven't had some of those moments, but I have. Not so much Josh Duhamel and Corey but I have been sick enough to be in an ambulance, and so has one of my babies. I did stand, many years ago and watch my neighbour's home burn, explosions coming from the garage, watching the firemen go in and out, around the house soaking the surrounding yards trying to protect our homes. And I've had that car accident, where the police showed up to block traffic, to offer me comfort and to drive me home.
After meeting them, these people blow my mind. Everyday they get up and chose to put their lives in danger for people like me. They williningly stand in front of a crazy dude with a gun to protect those around them. They stand on the side of a busy highway, trying with all their might to save the life of an accident victim, and if I haven't said it enough they also walk into flames, you know those HOT orange things. What's so amazing is they all do it happily, they do it selflessly and they do it without a hit to the head that causes confusion and a concussion. I would need at least a major concussion and some liquid courage to do what they do.
I wish I could say I could be that person, I don't think I could. Don't get me wrong, I'd stand in front of a moving train for my kids (although standing on the sidelines watching the train together is more appealing) and I'd take a bullet for my husband but to everyday get up and know that I'm potentially putting myself in danger, that I might not come home to the people I love more than life itself, I couldn't do it. Maybe that makes me selfish, maybe not but either way you won't see me in a snazy red hat anytime soon.
The thing about these guys that makes me angry - they earn pennies for what they do. When I road in the ambulance with AJ to the hospital in Abbotsford back in October I got to talking to the EMT that was caring for her. He worked crazy hours, with a little girl at home and another on the way, he gave up his time with his wife and child(ren) so that my little girl could be transported and cared for. And for all his time and effort, the dude barely made ends meet. In fact, he also had a side business to keep their family afloat. He wasn't complaining, I asked, to him it was a fact of life, but a sucky one. He also drove into Vancouver twice a week to work there too, just to help with the chain of command seniority thing and the finances. He was doing what it took to provide for his family, I know a few great men like that, who do their jobs until straight exhausted for that exact purpose. Then you get places where they don't even employ the majority of their fire fighters, rather they count on the bravery of those in their community to volunteer their time and their lives to save others - awesome who doesn't love a life for free....
So, put these guys on the back burner for a second and lets take a flip to another career group. A bunch of men, who spend their days together, who travel the country together, they take a few blows to the jawbone, have more muscle in their thighs than I do on my whole body and who also carry a weapon. Their weapon doubles as a pretty wicked scorin' stick and I guess you'd call them hockey players. Now we could be talking about all athletes in general but I've chosen hockey because ya'll know I LOVE that sport. While I do prefer the juniors - they're still playing for the love of the game and the hope of the greatness it could bring them, it's something raw and intense, I think it's the most Canadian, heart pounding, crazy awesome game ever. I don't however think any one of those guys deserve a 1 million plus pay check. They don't deserve to endorse shoes, or clothes, and unless they're using their celebrity to help someone else, I don't even think they deserve that. In the whole scheme of their day, what do those guys do for anyone else besides provide mild to heart attack inducing entertainment (mild = canucks, heart attack= Chilliwack Chiefs circa 2001/2002)?
How is that our society has become so twisted, so backwards that we are content to pay the people who seriously and honestly impact hundreds of people on a daily basis, hardly enough to survive? But we have no problem letting the guys who purposly ram their bodies into boards and plexiglass, and who throw a few punches for entertainment's sake earn enough in two years to sustain a modest family for years? Does this scenerio strike anybody else as weird? Wrong? As if it were devised by someone using drugs?
We all complained when the EMT's went on strike, "greed' was muttered under people's breath, "selfish" came the cry from others, yet they never stopped working they just cut back to skeleton crew to try to prove a point. But when Joe Canuck over there refuses 2.5 million for a better offer of 4 million and private urinal in the locker room, we nod with compassion and understanding. Oh, I understand a lot buddy (especially privacy when you pee...I so know what it's like to have an audiance, all. the time.) it's there for the taking, and you are taking. We all happily take what's offered to us, if someone offered me that kind of money to do what I love, I'd take it too. But what I hope is that I'd do something great with it, and by great I don't mean a trip to Europe. I'm sure many of the folks getting that kind of salary, do in fact do something great with it. What I wonder is what if? What if we didn't pay athletes so much, or actors for that matter? What if their pay cheque mirrored mine or yours and what if the people who do something important got even half of what those big earners made? What if their hard work and dedication, brough financial security to their families instead of just stress and worry?
I won't change the world or the way it thinks, odds are neither will you but we can try. The next time you curse a cop for a ticket* or roll your eyes at the ambulance who now needs you to MOVE OVER AND GET OUT OF THE WAY ALREADY (do you know how many people freeze at sight of lights and sirens? ) thank them too. If the fire-dudes are selling calenders, buy one support the cause, you do not have to look at the pictures and drool, you could give it to your grandma for christmas or something. If you see a EMT in Timmy's buy him a coffee or at least give a smile, these guys and gals do great things for us. And if we can't hand them a million bucks the least we can do is treat them like it!
*I've had a speeding ticket, so yes I speed, and no I wasn't happy. But just remember when or if you get one, you deserve it, you were speeding, even if it was only 15km over, they're just doing their job trying to get you safely to yours.