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I'm Thankful for First Responders & Essential Care Workers

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

Chapter 1: Appreciating my neighborhood caregivers


Around 5:30 tonight (Thanksgiving), I came home from a twilight walk through our West Hempstead neighborhood...


My adventures began an hour earlier when I left my home ("and my family"...) and walked south on New York Avenue to Hempstead Turnpike where BK and Mickey D were both serving up their versions of “happy meals.” I turned ("my collar to the cold and damp"...) and headed east...



Adjacent to Witches Brew Coffee House, the door to the Fire House was open - so I walked across the Turnpike and took the opportunity to yell through the door,


“Thanks for your service!”



I almost always do this whenever I see signs that the other person has served the public in law enforcement, fire protection, the medical profession…See, in recent years, I've reconnected with friends who've served in some of these roles and I marvel at their stories....



Continuing east, I walked past rows of stores…most closed for the holiday and some with “For Rent” signs…


I made a right at Westminster Road and paused to take in the evidence of the passage of time…as National Wholesale Liquidators' footprint is beginning to be transformed into housing and increased ridership on our one-track LIRR line.


I continued on Westminster to Woodfield Road and ventured southwest on my way to the 7/11 on Hempstead Avenue for my "now late afternoon" cup. I like the people there and they fill me up on Monday’s and Tuesday’s when my daily baristas at Witches Brew are enjoying their “weekend” break from providing their form of essential care.


Inside the store at the coffee station, I met David, a young guy my wife and I first met a few years ago at the now-closed Natural Market on 7th Street in Garden City. He served stocking shelves. We chatted for a while.


We had been discussing the nature of the universe and whether it was biased toward positivity...As he was remarking how times seem crazy right now...we both heard a commotion and saw a store employee who had been stocking shelves running out the door and yelling at what we later found out was a thief fleeing with three cartons of cigarettes. The employee was frantically snapping photos of the perp and his getaway car…


David and I returned to our now very timely conversation. After a few minutes, we made our way to the counter, and NCPD sector car #508 arrived. A young female officer started busily questioning the employees about the robbery. Seeing a woman packing a gun caught my attention.


As I was paying for my java, Bernadette the clerk, told me they had just been robbed two days ago….


First responders ALL…and some as minimum wage workers trying to support their families while they perform their versions of essential service to our community.



Chapter 2: Art imitating nature - evening film continues my walking adventures...


I hadn't planned to include what follows in this chapter...But it fits "write" in with the stories in Chapter 1...


For tonight's film with Eileen, I picked one of Prime's "Recommended for you" recommendations:

"It could only happen to you" - starring Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda.


It's based on a real-life story...



I loved it right away: Queens and NYC locales, subway scenes, NYPD officers, taxi drivers, lots of laughs and more.


Tie in to tonight's 7/11 heist:

--There's a scene where a Queens convenience store is being robbed. Yup, their loot even includes a carton of cigarettes. At one point Officer Charlie Lang (Cage)—lobs a canned good and knocks out one of the perps. 


Officer Charlie really cares for everyone on his beat - including the neighborhood kids that he plays stickball with. This immediately reminded me of my friend and peer Richie who for most of his life has been a coach to kids - both formally and informally. Oh, and he was also a NCPD officer, retiring with the rank of Detective.


[Plot spolier] After he wins the Lottery, Charlie takes all the neighborhood kids to Yankee Stadium. As the scene is rolling, we hear Frank Sinatra singing "Young at Heart"...





NY's Bravest




In another part of the film we see the first responders at NYC's Hook & Ladder Co. 8 donating to a fund to help the Good Samaritan cop and his waitress girlfriend try to get back on their feet.




Immediately after the fire house scene, we see another example of blue collar folks donating to the fund. These are essential workers that help maintain our infrastructure.



As a fringe benefit of writing this post, I learned that this fire house has been featured in all of the Ghostbuster tales and other films.



The firefighters of Hook & Ladder Co. 8 were among the first responders to the September 11, 2001, attacks. In 2011, the firehouse was threatened with closure after the city administration planned to close 20 fire companies to save money. But after a public campaign to save it, supported by the later Mayor Bill de Blasio and the actor Steve Buscemi, who also was a New York City firefighter from 1980 to 1984, the firehouse remains in service.


The firehouse was selected as the base of the Ghostbusters for the 1984 film after an early draft of the script envisaged the Ghostbusters as a public service much like the fire department. Reportedly, the firehouse was chosen because the writer and actor Dan Aykroyd knew the area and liked the building.


The film ends with the narrator (Issac Hayes) telling us that these folks lived in a city where people prayed for miracles every day...and sometimes they happened...


Boy, if this isn't a set up for Chapter 3...It's title comes from my friend Steve B who besides traveling around the country on our summer surfing surfaris and being a fellow VW owner...also taught me to, as he calls it, "to play with cars"...as he taught me how to work on my Volkswagen Bus...and which became my CAReer path...


Chapter 3: "There's a Grateful Dead song for every occasion..."




--includes Bill Kreutzmann in a skit...and John Belushi as...




Ever the Optomist, customer Buck asks the doctor if he has tortoise-shell frames. Doc reaches into a fish tank and retrieves a you-know-what. Hmm...sometimes in this section, there's a call to Pigpen's bullpen...for an Other One...or Two tunes from the Dead's extensive canon...


I went looking for "Terrapin Station" and was rewarded with this jewel:





OKAY..."Crypt"...3 Dead songs




Chapter 4: Coffee is Healthcare & Baristas are Essential Workers & sometimes First Responders
















Chapter 5: We can't take it with us when we go...


Cheapskate



Here’s his next…and final ride





Here’s yet another example of why I say that I love my retirement "job":


We’ve come full circle in this story...































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