It’s often a firefighter’s job to face dangers from which most mere mortals would run away. But whatever attracts them to the hazardous profession, it’s likely not for the thanks (or lack thereof) that they get in return. So when some Kentucky firefighters got a call while out shopping for groceries in April 2018, they were surprised on their return by a note a complete stranger had left on their abandoned cart.
It’s on record that fire departments in the U.S. respond to about three calls every minute. In 2015 alone, for instance, more than 33 million calls were answered. Most of those calls were for medical assistance and a further two and a half million were false alarms – but more than one million were for real fires.
Indeed, firefighters are called in to tackle such things as the wildfires that devastate California each year during its hot and dry climate from spring until fall. And no one will ever likely forget the heroism of the fire departments of New York and its surrounding areas in the aftermath of 9/11.
Yet, day to day at least, it’s a profession that rarely receives much recompense. For example, despite working on average 16 more hours each week than their fellow first responders in the police department, firefighters’ financial rewards are lower.
What’s more, on occasion the public abuses first responders who are simply doing their jobs. In December 2017 in the U.K., for instance, one motorist is alleged to have deliberately slowed down his vehicle while in the path of an ambulance en route to a patient.
In a separate incident, also in the U.K., a woman left an abusive note on an ambulance parked in front of her house. Although paramedics were helping someone in need, the irate woman allegedly took exception to the crew blocking the road in front of her home and hurled abuse at the first responders.
In the U.S., meanwhile, tensions between the public and emergency services can sometimes run high. Particularly in the black community, citizens can sometimes feel like victims of racial prejudice. That belief gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of high-profile killings of blacks by police officers.
So when firefighters based in Independence, Kentucky, were called to action while one was pushing a shopping cart in April 2018, it’s likely that they didn’t know what to expect. They just had to go, which is exactly what he and his colleagues are trained to do.
The firefighters in question had been out shopping for groceries at the time. It appears that they had visited the local Kroger store to buy food and drinks to stock the station kitchen ready for their shift.
While doing so, however, the alarm sounded. Now, this crew were members of the Independence Professional Firefighters Local 3945. And they were perhaps so taken aback by what eventually happened that they posted the incident to their Facebook page.
According to that page, the department is “[a] proud Local Chapter of the International Association of Firefighters.” It further states that it is their “honor to serve the community of Independence, KY.” And indeed, the fire department has served that community since opening its first station in 1938.
Its community does recognize the firefighters’ work, too. On this particular occasion, in fact, an onlooker noticed when the crew abandoned their shopping cart. And since it was clear from their uniforms who they were, the person took the opportunity to make their feelings clear.
So when the fire crew returned from the call, they also returned to their grocery shopping. Only not everything was quite as they had left it. You see, in their haste to attend the emergency callout, they hadn’t had time to pay for their groceries. But that lapse hadn’t gone unnoticed by a fellow shopper.
The post shared on the Independence Professional Firefighters Local 3945’s Facebook page features two photographs and a short caption. The first picture shows an unnamed firefighter in uniform and on duty, smiling and standing behind the shopping cart.
The second picture is a closer image of the shopping cart itself. On it, somebody had left a note intended for the firefighters who had abandoned the cart without having had the opportunity to pay for their groceries. But was it a disgruntled shopper chastising the first responders?
In actual fact, the note read simply, “Thank you for all you do!” What had happened was that another shopper had seen the firefighters rush off on a call. And in a gesture of gratitude, the mystery person had picked up the shopping cart and paid for the groceries themselves.
The caption describing the pictures reads, “A very gracious person bought our breakfast and dinner today at the Independence Kroger. Crews had to leave their shopping cart to make an emergency run, only to return to have it already paid for with a note saying thanks.”
So it seems that not everyone has a bad impression of first responders – the very people who help others in times of need. As a matter of fact, this isn’t the first time someone has satisfied an urge to do something to show their appreciation for emergency workers.
In April 2016 waitress Jessica Dunbar served a group of cops at a Red Robin in Columbus, Ohio. When she learned that they had just attended the service of a fallen colleague, she knew that she had to do something for them. So, as the daughter of a cop herself, she decided to pay their check out of her own pocket.
The Independence Professional Firefighters Local 3945 never knew the identity of the person who had paid for their groceries. Nevertheless, they were no less grateful to their mystery shopper. The Facebook post concluded, “Thank you very much whoever you are! There are some great people in this world!”