Almost eight years he told me. For almost eight years, Mr. Pinkney has risked his life to help others in need on dangerous, congested roads.
He has also been a substitute teacher for 11 years. I quickly realized this was a man who not only works hard to keep his family stable, but to stabilize others as well.
One characteristic of Mr. Pinkney that stood out to me was how positive and humorous he made every situation. From work to risks to life lessons, he had something wise to say.
And it is those life lessons that keep him being a HERO every week. Two that he constantly stands by are the Golden Rule and Serenity Prayer. The Serenity Prayer is essentially about having peace with your life and the courage and wisdom to get through it.
Courage is one of the most important characteristics of our HEROs. Not many people are able to do this job, and the ones who do have to be brave when on the road.
Courage is how the HEROs get through each day. Their safety is at risk every time they step into their vehicle. They also have to have trust in the public to help keep them safe. When drivers do not move over or slow down, it puts these HEROs lives in extreme danger.
Mr. Pinkney told many stories of the risks they take each day. He himself has been in serious danger at least four times, inside and outside of his vehicle. On one service call, he was parked on the shoulder of the road, standing by his truck door. A driver, not paying attention, began driving straight toward the HERO truck, barely missing Mr. Pinkney and the driver in the car he was helping.
Even as I sat in the truck while Mr. Pinkney assisted drivers, I could feel the 70 miles per hour rush of cars passing by.
To keep safe, Mr. Pinkney told me he keeps his head “on a swivel.” What he means is that he always has to keep looking. When getting out of the truck, he faces the oncoming traffic so he knows if a car comes his way.
Another safety tool the HEROs use is pulling behind and to the left of the vehicle in need; on the right shoulder if possible. This allows the HERO truck to—hopefully—stop an oncoming vehicle before it hits someone.
Mr. Pinkney is an extremely enjoyable man who strives to help people in need every day. He also wishes to go home to his family every night. Let’s keep our HEROs safe as they do the same for us.
Katie Gable was a summer 2016 intern in the Office of Communications.