There’s an Arby’s restaurant in our service area, whose manager routinely gives EMS crews price breaks on their orders. There’s a Chick Fil-A sandwich shop that gives uniformed EMTs a whopping 50-percent discount, no matter what they order. And there’s an oil-change outlet—Grease Monkey—that will drain and replace your car’s oil for you, hot engine and all, while you wait. They change our oil and filters for free in about 15 minutes, while our crews wait. Grease Monkey’s people are always nice, and they always thank us for coming in.
A Ford 7.3-liter diesel engine has an oil capacity of 12–15 quarts. In a year, that can add up to a lot of money—even for a small fleet. Of course, we have a regular shop, EVMARS in Denver, that does our preventive maintenance (other than those oil changes). We pay them for their work, but I wish I could tell you how good they are, year after year, at making our crews feel safe.
Have you ever sat down for breakfast at a restaurant and gotten a call just as they were serving your food! Duh! Of course you have. If you returned after the call, did they move you to the front of their line and fix you a fresh order, for free? That happens here too, and in lots of towns all over the world. One of the first things you can’t help learning as a new EMT is which food places treat you that way.
Have you ever gone to people who do those kinds of things, and told them how much you appreciate what they do for you? I don’t mean just while they’re serving you. Most of us are polite enough to do that, especially when we’re hungry. I mean, just out of the blue, off duty and in or out of uniform, walk into their store and thank them for what they do for you—preferably in front of their other customers.
If you’re a parent, I’m thinking you know how hard it is to teach a child "good manners." We’ve all heard of decency and politeness—at least, those of us who aren’t political radio talk show hosts. Most of us have our own ideas about the meanings of those terms, but they almost always include please and thank you, don’t they?
If anybody should have a feel for the importance of ordinary gratitude, I would think it’s an EMT. Even if you’ve only been on the street for three weeks, you’ve surely gone without thanks when it would have been appropriate. If you’ve been there for six months, you know what it feels like to bust a gut trying to help somebody and then have them spit at you in return, or maybe call your mom something awful. Thanks would have been so much nicer, right?
We all hear plenty about tragic events and nasty people; they seem to get all the headlines today. Whether it’s about falling home prices, disasters in faraway places, plane crashes or joblessness; be they murderers, cheaters, phonies, crooked leaders or professional athletes who confuse their talent with their importance, reading the news for 30 minutes is enough to spoil your taste for even the best cup of coffee. (OK, almost.)
Thanks is more important today than ever. You know all those small businesses where people are treating you so well? Well, this recession is hitting them hard, and they’re struggling to stay in business. Struggling to make payroll, and pay their mortgages. Struggling just like we are, to understand what’s happening to the world around them. Maybe even struggling in their personal relationships. Struggling in all those ways, and still managing to treat you as though they think you’re somebody special.
Of course, you are, Life-Saver. Special, I mean. But the world is full of people who serve you, and right now it’s really important for at least a few of them to be reminded once in awhile that somebody appreciates what they do. It’d be so easy. (While you’re at it, don’t forget your first responders. A lot of them do what they do for free, and rarely hear a word of appreciation from anybody.)
You can’t fix the world, all by yourself. But you can make some things just a little better, can’t you?
You, and this editor of mine. JEMS