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Morning. I’m sweating. Water beads off my boots as I splash through puddles, washing the truck. The sun bursts from the horizon. Drops of sweat mix with the water.

Mid-morning. My boots resist each step as they stick to the floor in a soiled home of an impoverished, overworked single mother. She holds a baby who will not stop crying. His feet are black with grime from toddling through the house. I feel a moment of helplessness. How did she get here? How did we all get here? How do we help her?

Afternoon. A drop of hot sauce plops onto the top of my left boot as I quickly eat in anticipation of the next call, hoping to get in a full meal. The radio tones and I hear my call sign. My boots thud solidly against the ground as I make my way to the truck.

Late afternoon. I shift my weight as I settle into another hour on-scene. I take comfort in the familiar worn spots on the soles of my boots. I breathe into the solidness of my boots beneath me as I attempt to emotionally detach from the chaos around me. I glance down and see the dried spot of hot sauce. My stomach growls for the cold burrito back at the station.

Evening. My boots feel heavy. They echo on the pavement with the steps of all those who have gone before me. I gather strength from each step.

Night. I take my boots off in the garage. I set my feet on the concrete and feel the temperature of the ground through my socks. I step inside my home and take a moment to appreciate the transition from hard concrete to plush carpet. The door shuts softly behind me.

Morning. I slip my boots on. They are perfectly molded to my feet. Every scuff a reminder of my purpose today. And someday I will replace them. I'm convinced no boots will ever feel the same.

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