“Here’s your new schedule. Take it and shut up, or screw, there’s plenty of people waiting to do your job.”
This is the shit that kills firefighters more than fires, more than heart attacks, falls, electrocutions or drownings. This is the shit that sneaks into a firefighters subconscious and eats away at their desire to do the job they love. This is the shit that makes firefighters question their worth to the community, their value as human beings and their desire to keep showing up.
Firefighters don’t punch a clock and wait for their shift to end. They show up at shift change, relieve the person on duty and remain vigilant for the next 10, 14, 24 or thirty-eight hours. Usually something catches or is set on fire, somebody gets shot, a car full of kids crashes, a toddler drowns or worse. The firefighters show up, act like the trained professionals they are and handle things. It’s what they do. It’s who they are.
Sadly, who they are matters not to the people who desire to run things. Firefighters are in for twenty plus years, and see the politicians that try and break them come and go. The last guy thought Providence was too small for his ego, left office and lost a run for Governor. The guy before that tried to break the firefighters, failed and ran for US Congress. He won that popularity contest and is now a US Congressman. The guy before him ran the show for years then spent five years in federal prison.
Through it all, the firefighters show up. And stay. And relieve the person who is done with their shift at shift change. They don’t question their commitment to the community. They don’t ask the people who call if they can afford the help, or if they are taxpayers, homeless, drug dealers or executives. Or even politicians. They do the job, and get it done.
And this is the thanks they get. A guy who was a city employee one minute and the man in charge the next exploits an opportunity and puts “his” firefighters at risk, puts “his” community in danger by forcing his firefighters to eat shit, take what he demands, show up, fight fires, treat the sick and injured and put themselves in harms way while doing so.
And the public watches from the safety of their homes, and the loudmouths bash the very people who are their salvation, and it’s all good theater for the masses who love nothing more than a good old fashioned politically motivated brouhaha.
God, I hate this place.