Archive for Wednesday, October 1, 2003

The things we take for granted

October 1, 2003

One day, I would get around to asking him his name.

The pleasant older gentleman who each morning said hello to me at a local convenience store must have been someone I had known years ago, I thought.

He seemed so friendly and we chatted like old friends with another buddy of his who makes the morning coffee rounds. He gave me a story idea that is now on my to-do list. He seemed like someone I should know. Because I felt that I should already know his name, I was a little too embarrassed to ask.

By the time I did, it was too late.

The call came out on the police scanner last Wednesday morning. As the sirens headed west on Fourth Street, we realized that that this call lacked the usual urgency of a 911 call.

Ted Clair, the friendly, smiling man from the coffee shop, had died of natural causes at his home, a neighbor later told me.

If he was as nice to everyone as he was to me, which I think he must've been, he will be missed by many.

This week the coffee shop banter has gone on without him. But his absence can be felt.

Oftentimes, when someone goes before us, we wish we could have said goodbye, maybe taken a few extra minutes to visit.

Or, at the very least, asked his name.

On the job

Early Tuesday morning, a fire broke out in a Tonganoxie home. Firefighters from three departments, many of them men and women who also work full-time day jobs, were on the scene by 3:15 a.m.

By 8 a.m. when grade school students were in their classrooms across the street, the firefighters had tackled the blaze. More than a dozen firefighters remained on scene as investigators sifted through the charred remains to track the fire's origin.

Fortunately, no one had been inside the house at 303 E. Third St. when it was engulfed by fire. But the first firefighters on the scene didn't know that.

In retrospect, it was fortunate the fire was so far along when firefighters arrived. Otherwise they might have entered the burning building in search of victims, and possibly wound up being injured themselves -- or worse.

Next week is Fire Prevention Week. Maybe -- along with taking heed of their advice regarding smoke alarms, fire prevention and safety -- it's time for us to send a message to firefighters.

And that message would be this: Thank you firefighters, and other emergency workers, for all the work you do.

We realize the emergency calls wake you up, pull you away from your children's birthday parties, and take you out at all times of day and night, in all kinds of weather, to take on all kinds of risks.

With the area's recent growth in population, emergency calls have increased. It's likely a trend that will continue.

To the firefighters and other emergency workers, volunteer and paid employees alike, we as a community rely on your services, and I believe I speak for many when I say how much your dedication, your volunteerism, your knowledge and work are appreciated and valued, likely much more so than you know.

Thank you again, for all that you do.

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