Features‎ > ‎

Hometown Heroes

posted Apr 30, 2014, 6:48 PM by Unknown user
Alli Arthur

As a kid, I’d always dream of being a firefighter or police officer; I’ve even got the dress-up costumes to prove it. I’ve always looked up to the people that kept me safe, and I wanted to be just like them. Too often, I hear stories of firefighters and police officers being seriously injured or even killed by the harsh means of their jobs. These men and women go unappreciated for their work. As a citizen of this community, I figured I’d show my appreciation for these men and women by sharing a small token of my gratitude with them.

Around 6:00 p.m. on Sat., March 21, the first batch of homemade cookies found their way into my 350-degree oven. I chose to make a classic, chocolate chip cookies, to give to some of our local firefighters the next day. I felt nervous as I slid the cookies onto the hot oven racks. I wanted them to be perfect, I wanted to make a good impression. After all, my life may depend on these people someday, and I didn’t want to leave a bad taste in their mouths. Literally.

After a taste test of the first batch, I felt more confident and cranked out three sheets of homemade cookies. Boy, my grandma would have been proud. These babies were top-notch. As I pulled the last cookies out of the oven, I took a deep breath and admired the thirty-five sugar-packed treats. After cleaning up the cookie batter laiden kitchen, I realized it had only taken a little over two hours to finish all thirty-six cookies by myself. I had plenty of time to relax.

I tried my hardest to kick back. It took a lot to not think about the small adventure ahead of me. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d say to the firefighters as I, a small teenage girl, rolled up in my tiny Hyundai Elantra, offering tokens of my gratitude. What if they thought I was pranking them? I couldn’t concentrate on the TV, which mostly served as background noise to my thoughts at this point, so I went to bed at the daring hour of 10 p.m. The next day, Sun., March 22, I woke up at a perky 8 a.m.. I wanted to be sure I was at the station in time to be able to hand the firefighters my cookies personally. As I went about my morning routine, I felt a knot in my stomach. All of the thoughts from the night before came flooding back to me in a  rush. I felt nervous, excited, and groggy all at the same time.

Despite the madness that was going on in my mind, I took a deep breath and punched the number of the nearest fire station into my home phone. I called the station ahead of time to make sure it was okay that I intruded on these people’s morning routines. A sweet younger-sounding man answered, which made my job easier. The man was quick to accept the offering of cookies, so I promptly jumped in my car and made the short trip to the fire station.

Cookies in hand, I nervously made the short walk from my car to the main door of the station. Here, I met the man who I assumed I talked with on the phone. The man shown a smile as wide as his face would let him, and greeted me with thanks. I felt comfortable talking with him again, as if meeting up with an old friend. Soon, he slid around a corner and began searching for some of his co-workers.

As I waited, I noticed how warm the station felt. Sure, I was only in the office of the building for the entirety of my trip, but something made me feel at home. I heard the laughter of friendly fire fighters as they came closer to where I was. I took the last moments of my alone time to recite what I was going to say as I presented the cookies.  

There was a grand total of five firefighters standing in front of me as I stood babbling out a thanks. It went something like: “I really appreciate all of the time you invest in uh...our community and I...I think this is just a small token of my appreciation and… I hope you like chocolate chip! So...yeah, I just wanted to...thank you guys.” I never have been a smooth talker.

One of the men standing before me let out a small chuckle. I was almost offended before he went on. He began to say that he really appreciated what I had done. He hadn’t seen anyone do this type of thing before, and he never expected it. He took a second to gather his thoughts, and quietly held out his hand. The other fighters soon followed after him.

The men were all very thankful for my time and baking abilities. I talked with the men for nearly ten minutes about what they loved about their jobs. One tall, dark man told me about his typical day. I learned that some days can be very slow in a small town like ours. Other days can be jam packed with serious fires and other emergencies.

Sitting here, talking with these men made me feel like I was talking to a bunch of old friends. I felt so at home and welcomed that before long, I was listening to their gossip and sharing my own. I was so glad I showed up to the fire station that day. These men and women are just like all of us. They have normal families, and they go about life unnoticed in most cases. I had a warm feeling in my stomach as I sat there, talking to real life heros.

This feeling was more than anything I had wished to come out of this experience. I was hoping to feel a small amount of pride and joy coming out of the station that day, but what I felt was a new and different kind of appreciation for the men and women that worked at that station.

I learned a lesson that day. Even though these men and women had every reason to want more out of their jobs, they didn’t ask for it. They were simply thankful for a few small plates of cookies made by a little teenage girl. To them, that was all they needed to make their job less of a job and more of a passion. I learned to take what I have and turn it into something great.

Next time someone asks you who your favorite superhero is, I can only hope that our hometown firefighters cross your minds. I hope that someday you feel the appreciation and caring that I did from passing on a small  act of kindness.