What would we do without the people who drive our service trucks?
For me, Thanksgiving is more than just a time to feast on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. I also like to use the fourth Thursday in November to give thanks for the blessings I have: a wonderful wife and two daughters, great family and friends, awesome co-workers and good health.
I also take this opportunity to thank the men and women who provide me with a wide range of truck-based services that make my life, and the lives of millions of other Americans, more comfortable. It's to them that I dedicate this month's column.
Garbage crews. They're at the top of the list because they have possibly the toughest and most thankless task in the world: taking out the trash. In my case, that duty falls to the men and women of BFI Waste Systems of Northern Virginia, now owned by Allied Waste Holdings. These folks collect untold tons of putrid refuse day in and day out, in the baking heat of summer and freezing depths of winter. Yet they always have time to wave hello and say `hi' to the kids in the neighborhood.
The U.S. Postal Service. Postal workers have been on the butt end of jokes for years, and we're talking about the nasty variety, like the way `going postal' has become a synonym for `workplace violence.' Yet the people who serve my block prove that moniker just isn't deserved.
The people in brown, purple and gray. These are the New Age mail carriers - UPS, FedEx, Airborne and the many others that deliver almost anything, anywhere, overnight. I rely on them to do my job. Yet the men and women working with tight schedules for guaranteed pickups and deliveries say good morning, good afternoon, etc., every single time. Here's to you.
Fire and rescue crews. I stand in awe of anyone whose job it is to go into a burning building or who must be prepared to handle injuries ranging from broken bones to gunshot wounds. Fire trucks and ambulances are sometimes all that separate the living and the dead. Nothing slows them down, either. The Burke Volunteer Fire Co., for example, lost their building to fire two years ago, yet they continue to work 24/7 out of a large tent-like structure while they build a new one. They define the word `heroes.'
Police officers. Truckers and cops have had a lot of differences over the years, but I don't think anyone would disagree that police officers put their lives on the line every day. Whether they're state patrolmen on the highway or local cops on city streets, they still go out in their patrol cars day after day and do their job - never knowing when their number might get called.
Utility line crews. I have to give special mention to the men and women in the bucket trucks servicing electric, telephone, cable TV and gas lines. I started my career in journalism covering them, as well as the fleet managers and mechanics who support them. When Mother Nature strikes, they go out to turn the power back on, working around the clock in some of the worst conditions imaginable. Then there are the service calls by people like Jerry Rogers of Verizon. He quickly installed extra phone lines for me, even as I rushed to pick up my eldest daughter from day care. Going the extra mile always sticks in your mind. Thanks, Jerry.
There are countless others whose jobs smooth out the bumps in the road for the rest of us. We don't give them or the vehicles they drive much thought; they're so dependable they sort of fade into the background. But without them, we'd be way, way up the proverbial creek without a paddle. So, here's to you this Thanksgiving. I give thanks for the job you do every day.