Why we shine our boots
I used to dread shining my boots, especially since joining the CFD Honour Guard. I didn’t grow up going to Cadet’s, scouts or much anything of that, that required really spiffy looking boots.
Shining boots properly is a recently acquired skill for me. I’m still not great at it compared to some of my co-workers, who have military backgrounds, but they’re starting to look slightly better with practice, and a lot of patience.
I was told early on as a fire recruit, that immaculately shined boots was a demonstration of the respect and professionalism that we have for our careers, our coworkers, and the flashes sewn on our uniforms that we wear each day with great pride. This didn’t really make much sense at first, since this often tedious task seemed more like a punishment for bad behaviour. However, it is satisfying watching each gentle circle of matte black wax turn glossy over time. A nice beverage or two helps make the process less tedious. I didn’t understand at first.
My career so far has been so stellar. I’ve found myself in many situations that have helped broaden my knowledge and skill set, in this ever changing job.
I go to work confident in my training, and my abilities, and never doubt the competence of the person sitting in the truck beside me. Sure, there have been a few hiccups along the way, but for the most part calls have gone according to plan. Sadly, we hear all too often about our friends and colleagues being taken too soon during a routine call. No one ever expects a routine call to go sideways so quickly, and without warning. No one goes to work in the morning, expecting the roof they are ventilating to collapse. No one expects an out of control car on the highway to veer towards them unexpectedly. No one expects a person, who was looking to seek retribution on an unsuspecting authority figure, to attack them unprovoked. No one thinks that this morning was their last time seeing their husband, wife or kids. This is the unfortunate reality for us emergency services personnel.
I’m fairly certain I’m not the only person in the emergency services world that uses boot shining time as an opportunity to reflect on family, friends, and coworkers. I sometimes smile when I think about the calls that went smoothly, but I know any one of those routine calls had potential to end very differently, and without warning.
Tomorrow, they’ll be hundreds of uniformed personnel standing at attention along Poirier Avenue, for a man that many of us had never met, myself included. And although most of us will never be placed in a situation that compares to what Constable Wynn experienced that fateful day last year, we collectively share the utmost respect for someone who simply showed up to do his job, to help keep the rest of us safe.
This is why we shine our boots.