I stopped at a Moe’s Southwest Grill for lunch today. For those unfamiliar, Moe’s is a fresh, fast-food place with burritos and tacos. They greet every customer with a resounding, “WELCOME TO MOE’S!” as you walk through the door. From there, you are whisked through the line while the smiling employees make your food.
On this particular day, I was assisted by an energetic and friendly bilingual lady whose hat was adorn with pins. (pieces of “flair” for those of us old enough to remember the movie “Office Space”). After sitting down, this same woman walked the floor asking if everyone was doing well, all the while, yelling their trademark greeting as customers came into the store. This waitress was a proud, strong woman in a position many would consider a starter job or an “unskilled position” who has a great positive attitude. It was obvious that she took pride in her work ethic, her customer service, her appearance and her job. As I sat there eating my chicken taco, it dawned on me that this woman was an outstanding example of what every working person in America should strive to be.
The work ethic of the Moe’s waitress is the kind of attitude that’s especially important in the fire service. Every single day we are on display for the public at their worst time. How we look, act, and treat others is incredibly important. We all know the men and women on the job who have gotten bitter. They usually slack with the uniform, slack with responses, and slack with customer service. They gripe about policy, leadership, change, and training. They embody someone who is just there for a paycheck or the T-shirt. Think about it every time you go to a place of business, be it a restaurant, mechanic shop, mall, or whatever and observe the employees. Usually, one can pick out the slackers or the lazy, i-don’t-want-to-be-here-but-need-this-paycheck people. I quickly lose respect for workers who wear their unhappiness on their sleeve. Now consider yourself when you interact with the public:
-Is your uniform presentable or do you look like a bag of warmed-over assholes?
-Is your attitude positive and inviting or do you looked pissed off because you’d rather be on the couch at the station?
-Do you make an effort to interact with your customers (the public you swore to protect) or does your facial expression say, “I hate Pub-Eds?”
-Do you strive to set a positive example or just go with the status quo?
If an employee of a fast-food joint can set a positive example, so can you. Now, before everyone gets butt hurt, I understand there are times when you do not look your best; post workout, post fire, or chilling in the recliner with some house shoes on are a few times I myself don’t look the most professional. However, a personal attitude adjustment is easy and so are small acts of kindness like waving to children or assisting someone with their groceries. My point is that there are a lot of firemen and women who could use some remedial training in respecting the job including attitude, behavior, and appearance.
I’m willing to bet that a lot of these sloppy Joes deep down still have that pride. It’s up to the leaders of the rig/station/department to inspire them and make them want to find it. Once they take pride in themselves, they’ll take pride in the job. Once they take pride in the job, they’ll take pride in the department. Respect yourself, your house, your job, and your community.