Once more... with feeling!

In a couple of days, we will start another New Year. The media is filled with recommendations for resolutions, how not to make resolutions, and a host of other thoughts. It is also filled with looking back on a year that has been extremely eventful, both positive and negative.For the last several years, our society has at least given lip service to the idea that those who dedicate their lives in service to others – law enforcement, emergency responders, and now teachers – deserve an extra statement of appreciation. As we start looking at a new year, perhaps we should be looking at, and appreciating, the heroes of our own community. Our law enforcement personnel work continuously through the year. When weather or other incident closes down schools and public services they compensate by working extra hours. They were involved in helping the victims of accidents, assisting motorists who lost control of their vehicles, and checking on citizens. They are often the first on the scene when a fire erupts out in the county, with nothing to stop it racing into groups of houses, and are the last to leave – blackened and coughing from the smoke. In winter, while the rest of us huddle inside or play in the snow, they travel the hazardous roads to insure that all is well. When they stop a driver, it is not for the purpose of harassment, it is to keep the driver and community safe – when did you last tell them “thank you”?Our firemen, and paramedics, both the ones in Sweetwater and the volunteer firefighters out in the county think nothing of working long hours whenever needed, willing to put their lives in danger to save members of the public. While many of us may never need their services, don’t all of us rest easier knowing that they are there? It is doubtful that they will be called on for a catastrophe of the magnitude of the one in New York, but they are here for us. They, too, deserve our appreciation.The staff of the hospital, as well as the nursing homes, also makes it a point to get to work – no matter what. When people are frightened, in pain, or in the throes of dementia, they are often less than nice. Yet these dedicated professionals are always there, no matter the weather, in case on of the rest of us needs their help.The person who waits on us at a local restaurant will receive pay for the time she works, as well as, hopefully, a tip. Money, however, is not everything. A word of appreciation goes farther, and often means more, than money. While the tip and salary will help with the expenses of living, a smile and positive comment will help with the business of living! What job in our community can we do without? Can you think of any? Without the person who drives the street sweeping equipment before dawn, the debris that collects on the streets would be breaking windshields and blowing about the community. The persons who collect the dirty dishes at the restaurant, clean the public building, and care for the grounds of parks all add to our enjoyment of Sweetwater and Nolan County. Yet when was the last time you stopped to thank one for doing their job?Most of us pride ourselves on doing our jobs to the best of our ability, and most of us are paid something for our efforts. While there is no employee of my acquaintance who would exchange pay for appreciation, each of us works better knowing that others are grateful for our efforts.Instead of worrying about resolutions and actions of the past, take the time today to thank someone for the work that he or she does – and enjoy the smile that brightens his or her face!Lisa Peterson is the County Attorney for Nolan County. Comments about this column may be e-mailed to editor@sweetwaterreporter.com.