I was sitting at the four-way stop outside of Walmart in what appeared to be a traffic jam. I know it sounds like the beginning of a Larry the Cable Guy joke. But it was true. The lady beside me had picked her up a chicken sandwich and by the look on her face, either the chicken was nasty or she was frustrated with the Walmart traffic jam. The culprit of the congestion was the Cherokee County Sheriff’s deputy stopping traffic at the intersection. As police cars, fire engines, emergency management vehicles paraded by, leading the caravan of mourners and a black hearse, I was reminded that Cherokee County was laying to rest one of its fine citizens. I rolled down my window, handed the lady beside me a napkin and informed her that it is sometimes an honor to be stuck in a traffic.
On Tuesday, Donna Westbrook passed away as a result of complications received from a car accident in February. Mrs. Westbrook is the wife of Robby Westbrook. He serves as the director of the Cherokee County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. It was truly amazing to watch the stream of public servants who turned out to support the Westbrook family. When a family member of one of our public servants succumbs to death, it is good for the city to stop and pay its respects.
I suppose I am biased. My father retired from Gwinnett County Fire Services. My brother works for the Hall County Sheriff’s Department and my baby brother is employed with Hall County Fire Services and Lumpkin County Fire Services. He works both counties so that he can keep food on the table and a roof over his family. Public service is in my blood. My grandfather would sit for hours and listen to an emergency scanner. He taught me the official ten-code list. Not even sure if they are used anymore. Everyone knows 10-4. But what about 10-76, time of arrival, or 10-54, livestock on the highway (this is important when you grow up surrounded by pastures). Now I don’t remember them all but I do remember him telling me 10-41 is beginning of tour of duty and 10-42 is end of tour of duty.
As I sat in my truck praying for God’s comfort to rest on the family and the lady beside me finished her sandwich, it occurred to me that most of these folks are thinking 10-42, end of duty, as the hearse drove by. But I think someone was calling up heaven and saying, “10-41, duty just beginning.”