Allow me to start by saying that this will be the last “Stoked in Tok” blog. I’m back in the city baby! I gave small town living a try, and it wasn’t for me, but it was beautiful while it lasted. So, I will post a link when I decide on a name for the new blog…etc, etc.

So, I was walking down the road today. Since I got this new GPS app for public trans that tells me when the bus is coming, whenever the bus is more than 4 minutes away, I walk to the next bus stop. It’s a way for me to burn a few calories, and get closer to my destination. So, while walking today, a fire truck pulled up to the red light.

The passenger was looking out the window, and he just had a distant look in his eyes. It looked oh so familiar, but I couldn’t quite tell you what he was thinking, or exactly what I interpreted the meaning as. However, I happened to catch his eye, and I waved, and then I gave him a big thumbs up. He smiled, and he returned it.

The firehouse was only about half a block away, and they pulled in. I would say about 90 minutes later, the truck pulled back out of the firehouse, and fired up their siren. I was just approaching at this point, and noticed that all the passengers were the same. Off they were, to the next emergency.

For those guys, that was Christmas for them. It immediately took me back to Christmas 2008. I don’t remember much about that Christmas, as far as the details go. I was in Afghanistan, on good ole FOB Rushmore. I just remember one of the officers coming around saying they needed soldiers to run a convoy. 1 convoy turned into 2, 2 into 3. I couldn’t tell you how many convoys we ran that day, but it was quite a few. We were heading up the road to PRT Sharana. It was a big base a few miles up. I remember the cool crisp air, a little snow on the ground, much like Chicago today. I can’t even remember all of the reasons we ran so many convoys. I do remember though that a few of them were for mail. There was so much mail, we had to pick it up in several trips. In addition to that, the mail team at PRT Sharana was processing and pumping out..on Christmas…working hard.

I can relate to that because I did that job for a few months while stationed in Germany. I loved working in the mail room. But, Christmas was a beast. However, these memories were so closely tied together because in both cases, I was more than willing to work…to keep my mind moving. To keep from sinking into thought. I worked about 6 hours on Christmas day in Germany, because it was something to keep me busy. I remember the Colonel, who was home on leave, coming around and hearing music coming out of the mail room. He knocked, and I opened the window.

“What are you doing specialist?”

“Trying to get all this mail and packages processed sir. There’s so much of it, I don’t like the thought of some of the kids not getting cards and presents from their moms and dads in the sandbox.”

“Hmm…well you don’t stay here too long. Go home, relax, get some food in ya.”

“Yes sir.”

I remember those days so fondly in reflection, while I can’t even recall how I felt about them in the moment.

But as I saw that fire truck heading out down the road, I felt a bit of sadness. I have such profound respect for firemen and policemen. Men and women who give their lives, day in and day out, holidays, weekends, rain, sleet and snow, to make sure that we maintain some semblance of order and safety in our society. That’s an avenue of existence that I have some familiarity with.

I think we so often forget the sacrifices those jobs call for, as well as the effects on the psyche that they may possibly bring. I gave that fireman a thumbs up as a small token of appreciation for what he does, particularly on a day like today, when we like to think that everyone should be with their loved ones, or at least finding some respite from the messiness of day to day life.

It all puts things in perspective for me, and perhaps it will do the same for you. I hope all that read this are having a wonderful December 25th, regardless of how you’ve chosen to spend it. I myself was once again able to find something to keep my mind moving, and keep me from falling into the void of thought, and that miracle is jiu jitsu. I love it so.

Be well. Namaste.


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