Safe at work

There are people who dedicate their lives to taking pictures of dangerous things. Not just inside-the-lion’s-mouth kind of things, but truly life threatening things: war zones and protests and countries that don’t respect the press or any of its trappings. Dangerous things. Things they get killed for. Things they do because you know they’re right, and they know they’re hard, and they know they’re awful sometimes and they know they might die.

And sometimes they do die. Sometimes they’re shot. Sometimes they are caught in the crossfire, to break out a cliché.

Sometimes they are snuffed out.

At work.

They die at work. And they die knowing this was something they’d signed up for.

There are people who do the jobs that I could never do, no matter how much I think I could do it, no matter how often I think I could really take a risk and push myself into the nether regions and do something hard and dangerous and edgy.

I don’t. And I probably never will.

There are people like Sabah al-Bazee, killed during an attack in Tikrit, Iraq – a photographer, cut down by shrapnel, leaving behind a wife and three children. Killed. At work. There are people like Ronald E. Johnson, a guard at the Sioux Falls Penitentiary, a plastic bag tied around his head, his body left to die as two prisoners stole his clothes. Killed. At work. There are people everywhere – not just those who put themselves in dangerous jobs, but their families: their partners and their children and their parents, feeding off of adrenaline but still wondering each day whether their job will kill them.

Then, there’s me. Typing on a computer. Creating spreadsheets. Completely safe, never in danger. Alive.

Always alive. At work.

Not only enjoying what I do, and thankful that I get the chance to do it, but absolutely confident that I’m never in danger. That my wife will never wonder if I’m coming home that day. That my kids will never have to find out their daddy died at work.

Thankful that I’m coddled. Thankful that I can merely appreciate the hard work, without having to ever put my body in harm’s way. And still, constantly, awe-fully, amazed that there are people who will.

This was lovingly handwritten on April 18th, 2011