A lovely tale landed in my in-box this week that I’m absolutely compelled to share. Here’s the backstory: My friend Derek works in central California as a flight paramedic. He literally saves lives in high-stress, heart-pumping emergency situations. If it sounds like a glamourous job, Derek assures me that it’s both underpaid and underappreciated. Meaning 17 years’ experience has taught him that the gratitude he can expect to receive for his hard work is limited.
So it was memorable when, a few days ago, Derek walked into Starbucks and lined up behind a cowboy. This feller was six and a half feet tall. He wore a mammoth-sized cowboy hat and, sure as you’re born, big cowboy boots. He even spoke in a drawl. And the reason Derek knows this is because when Cowboy noticed him he asked about Derek’s work, told the cashier he was paying for the gentleman’s coffee, and then said to him sincerely: “Thank you for your public service.”
“It’s the first time anyone has ever done that kind of thing for me,” Derek says. It sounds like it pretty much blew his mind. He reflects: “I realize it wasn’t about him buying me the coffee, but all about what he said.” A word of thanks is something Derek rarely hears on the job.
This straight-shooting cowboy then wished my friend a merry Christmas and walked out, leaving us to wonder what may have prompted him to express his appreciation so spontaneously.
Did I happen to mention that Cowboy had a bushy whitish beard and moustache? No joke. Does Santa ever moonlight as a displaced Texan? Discuss amongst yourselves.
“I believe I will have to pay it forward,” Derek says now.
That’s so very much what it’s all about.
By the way, I mentioned earlier that I’d be making a television appearance to speak about good deeds. If you’re interested in catching the segment, tune in to CTV’s Canada AM on Monday. I’ll be interviewed at around 7:40 a.m. See you in TV land!