Dear City of Phoenix,
Many times during my work week people ask me how I am doing. My usual response to them is that “I am happy to be here and proud to serve”. They typically laugh a little at what they percieve to be mere sarcasm. What they don’t really understand, is that I am being completely honest. So, I wanted to take a few moments out of my day to express to you why I am not being sarcastic in my statement.
Thirteen years ago I was trying to support a wife and child on a salary of $8.50 an hour at a job that I really didn’t like very much. I was twenty-four years old, married with an adopted daughter, and only a few college credits under my belt. The only skills I had came from my recent four year stint in the military, which left me with with a disciplined work ethic and training in maintaining firefighting equipment. Both of which were great to have, but didn’t really pay the bills or give me much of a future.
I will never forget the day we first met. I was at home watching the news when a story about you came on saying that you were in desparate need of 911 operators and that you were paying anyone who was qualified to do the job $13.65 an hour. That was the day that changed my life and set me on a course that led me to where I am today.
It is because of you that I am able to put food on the table each day to feed my family. It is also because of you that I have a table to put that food on, with plates, cups and silverware. And a new dishwasher to clean them with and water to run through it. I am able to give this all to my family inside my own home that I was able to purchase because of you.
It is because of you that I was able to purchase a vehicle that my family could depend on. The same one that allows me to get groceries, take my family to the doctor, and on vacations all around the nation. While on vacation, you actually continue to pay me. Sure I have to earn it, but that just made me learn discipline.
It is because of you that I am able to provide medical care to my family anytime they need it. You paid for each and every one of my wife’s surgeries. You where there at my daughters darkest moments in rehab and counseling and you are there for her now as she prepares to give birth to my grandson.
It is because of you that I know my family will be taken care of in the event of my untimely death. Not only with money, but with emotional support for my wife and child. Support from friends who I met because of you. Friends that have become my extended family that mean more to me than I can ever express in words. Friends that have supported me in my ups and in my downs and have often times kept my marriage running smoothly.
It is because of you that I will soon be able to call myself a college graduate without thrusting my family into further debt. I can actually live out the part of your mission statement that commands us to “learn, change, and grow” because of your generosity. You don’t even care what I’m studying, you will pay for it just so I can learn.
It is because of you that I am not an unemployment statistic. You have fought for me and stood by my side. You have not abandoned me like many others would have done in what is one of the worst economic downturns in American history. Instead, you allow others to come in and have a chance at the same opportunities you have given me.
It is because of you that my wife and I will have a finacial future at all. You will be there each month in my golden years, ensuring that I can continue to pay for food, shelter, and medical care. Even if the government’s promise of social security has disappeared.
You have given me all of these things.
And all you have asked of me in return is to show up at your doorstep four days a week and perform my duties to the best of my ability. I hope that I have not let you down thus far.
Am I being sarcastic when I tell people that I am glad to be at work and proud to serve?
Nope. I mean ever word.
Forever in your debt,