By SKIP TUCKER, Alabama Daily News Featured Columnist
I wouldn’t know Stacy Broderick if he walked up and pinched me. I have a general description, is all. I’m told he’s medium to tall, medium-to-strong build, maybe mid-30’s, brownish hair. So I am, except I’m 72, balding and fat. So I don’t wouldn’t know Stacy Broderick. I don’t know if I spelled his name correctly.
But I think I know about Stacy and I hope I’m right. He’s a firefighter – hence he’s most likely a good guy. Firefighters – men and women – seem to comprise more than their share of good folks. He’s brave, skilled and honest. He has to be. People depend on him for those things. More importantly, I reckon, so do his fellow firefighters. His team. There’s no room in a fire department, especially a big one, for contrary behavior on the job. All have to be go-to guys. Firefighters have proved it from Day One to 9/11.
As to honesty, he’s a bit of a hero to my mind for it. As country folk in northwest Alabama put it, “I been sick.” In fact, I came pretty close to a point where no firefighter on this green earth could’ve done much. Happily, there’s a Great Physician. Nor do I think I would’ve needed His firefighting service had things gone awry, although He’s proof for it.
(I am 99 percent fully recovered, and thank you all for prayers and good tidings. I walked two miles yesterday morning. I even jogged a bit, or thought I did, until an older lady using a walkerthing passed me. I didn’t mind much until she lapped me, then I tried to kick her. Alas, she had flashed past. Hey, listen, the thing sported wheels.)
A week ago today, 4ish, my plane landed safely in Houston. I’d carried my bags onto the plane. My kind ride called to say he was a bit late, so my son and I plopped down in seats close to the baggage carousel just as our ride arrived. So out we went, except for my travel bag of toiletries and medicine. None of the meds were of immediate need, but an awful inconvenience to replace. Thing is, by the time I discovered my bag was missing, I was at my destination nearly an hour away. Nor was I sure I’d left the thing inside the airport. It could’ve fallen away as I walked to my ride.
United Airlines customer service was more than helpful. Its central contact is an 800 number in Las Vegas. Three reps tried to reach the desk in Houston, which remains busy. Two gave up but not the third. The desk phone must’ve rung 50 times before someone answered, claimed s/he looked and said no luck. I was very unhappy. After an eternity of thought, for me, which for me is about 20 minutes, I decided to sleep. Sleep often occurs when I try to think.
My cell phone rang. A deep pleasant voice said, “Mr. Tucker?” Hope springs eternal within the human breast. I said, “Yessir.” He gave my full name. I gave him my address and he said, as I hoped to hear, “I’ve got your kit.” I was very happy.
He found it (hmmm, hello deskpeople?), looked to make sure it wasn’t explosive I reckon, saw med bottles and called CVS in east Montgomery. May all pharmacies in the world have the poise, the expertise, the personality and willingness to help as do pharmacy director Lydia Thornhill and her folks. Stacy got my contact stuff.
Voila! My brother-in-law, who knows the roads, left the restaurant and went back to collect it for me. Resurrection. Redemption.
Here’s the thing. My BIL offered a small honorarium to Stacy, as I knew he would. From my brief conversation with Stacy Broderick I would’ve bet five times the amount that he’d refuse it, most politely. I would’ve won.
It was to Stacy Broderick a small thing. He didn’t say it in those words. What he said in our brief conversation was, “That’s what we do.”
I’d love to see that little slogan painted above the front doors of Fire Station 92, 4300 Will Clayton Parkway, Houston, Tx (77032). It represents. So does Stacy Broderick. At least so does the Stacy Broderick in my mind. A small thing to him, a part of the service he and his fellow firefighters perform daily around the world, isn’t so small to those of us who benefit from them.
For the large part, the only times we see the names of these heroes is when they etch their names in fire within the eternal firefighter book before they are whisked right off to a place of eternal comfort.
Professional firefighters are paid, of course, though hardly well. The trade is recognized as one of small reward according to risk. Many firefighters are volunteer, I reckon. Smaller risk, perhaps, at exactly no pay.
As the Alabama Legislative Session winds down with accomplishment but with extremely important questions left for later, how many members would match up to my ideal of Stacy Broderick. How many of us? How would I?
In the State House, some important things prevailed but other important things have been left undone due to simple lack of common goodwill and to contumely and to power plays for constituency.
In a sense, elected officials are firefighters, or supposed to be so. They’re elected to serve and protect, and the difference between a statesman and the smiling politician are the simple-sounding traits of courage, honor and decency. Some fit the first description, many the second
The Stacy Broderick who lives inside my imagination would not approve of some, I reckon. And, by the bye, he’s from Alabama and proud of it.
I’ve also learned he’s an Auburn fan but hell, nobody’s perfect. (And Todd wonders why he’s taken a perfectly good last name and used it for a first one.)
(Next week: Legislative Post-mortem
Skip Tucker was editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle in Jasper, then communications secretary for gubernatorial folks like George McMillan, Charlie Graddick and Jim Folsom. He ran Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse for in Montgomery for 15 years. He has published one novel, Pale Blue Light, a spy thriller set in The Civil War. He’s now a regular contributor for the Alabama Daily News at www.ALDailyNews.com. Email Skip HERE. )