Emotional Labor Among 911 Dispatchers – Jim Marshall (POY 25)

Emotional Labor Among 911 Dispatchers - Jim Marshall

Jim Marshall trains 911 dispatchers to protect their mental health in their high-stress jobs. He also shares why he enjoys serving these hidden caregivers.

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Episode Summary

  • Jim co-founded the 911 Wellness Foundation to link psychological expertise with 911 dispatchers and other emergency first-responders.
  • 911 dispatchers work in high-stress positions because they interact with people in their most vulnerable moments, often without closure. The emotional labor of the job can have negative impacts throughout their lives.
  • Jim started out as a child psychologist. He later became a marriage counselor and trauma therapist, which gave him unique insights into his sister’s job as a 911 dispatcher.
  • Jim describes how the 911 Wellness Foundation is also helping to guide the industry going forward, including involvement in technologies like Next Generation 911.

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Transcript

This transcript may differ in minor instances from the audio content. Please notify Josh Morgan of any errors you may find.

Monologue by Josh Morgan

Jim Marshall is a clinical psychotherapist from Saginaw, Michigan. He’s also a co-founder and the chair of the 911 Wellness Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping 911 dispatchers—or telecommunicators, as they’re known professionally—across the United States. Nine one-one dispatchers generally talk with people who are in the midsts of their worst moments in life, and that can cause them all sorts of stress-related illnesses. Fortunately, Jim and his organization teach dispatchers how to take care of their mental health, and are helping to guide advances in the industry. I talked with him about all of these issues as well as what motivates him to serve this group of hidden caregivers.

I’m Josh Morgan. My conversation with Jim is coming up next on The Plural of You, the podcast about people helping people.

This is Episode 25. You can read along if you’d like at pluralofyou.org/025.

Americans and Canadians know to dial 911 in the event of an emergency, but the number differs from country to country; in Europe, for example, the number for these services is 112. Emergency call services like these have really only been around as we know them since the 1970s and 80s. Even though that wasn’t all that long ago, we’ve come to take the existence of these services and the people who maintain them for granted.

I’ll go ahead and describe what happens when you place a call to 911 in the US, to put this topic in perspective. When a call is made to 911, it’s routed to the nearest 911 call center. That depends on where you’re located and the type of phone you’re calling from, but it’s usually somewhere in your city or county. Dispatchers at centers like these are trained to gather information about your emergency and to help you remain calm, and most won’t hang up until you do. Once a dispatcher has enough information to determine what services you might need, they will direct the appropriate personnel to the location of your incident. It’s a pretty simple process for callers, and that’s by design. What we often don’t realize is that, when we call 911, we’re presenting our problems to individuals like us on the other end, and that requires a specific skill set that often goes unrecognized.

I got interested in this topic after I read a few stories from dispatchers about the job. I’ve lost the original source for what inspired me to look up the 911 Wellness Foundation, but from what I remember, a typical shift for a dispatcher might go something like this. A call comes in from a frantic woman. She whispers that her ex-husband has forced his way into her apartment, and she’s hiding in a closet. She’s calling for police assistance, and the dispatcher is doing her best to keep her calm. Suddenly, there’s a male voice, the woman screams, and the call disconnects. Another call comes in, unrelated to the previous woman, and that’s it. Life goes on. The dispatcher may never find out what happened to woman, and that will be only one of several incidents she or he will hear about during the same shift.

That’s the nature of the job: helping people through their most vulnerable moments, often without closure for the dispatcher. One veteran of the field put it this way: “You definitely have to want to do it. It’s not like being a secretary and typing at a computer.”

There’s a lot of emotional labor required to be a 911 dispatcher. That term involves occupations which expect us to show particular emotions toward customers or clients, even if the expressions aren’t genuine. If you’ve ever had a job where you were expected to smile at people all day, no matter what your mood really was, that’s emotional labor. Sociologist Arlie Hochschild and others have written at length about how our social norms shape these expectations, and how those expectations can vary across race, gender, environment, and so on. For 911 dispatchers, I think it’s fair to argue that they have one of the most emotionally complex jobs imaginable, so I’m glad to know that people like Jim are doing what they can to ease the burden.

Jim was in the middle of a weeklong series of training sessions for compassion fatigue and emotional resilience when we talked, but I was able to catch him one evening in a hotel room, I think in Ann Arbor. The next time you hear someone complaining about how the world is getting worse, or about how people are all screwed up and terrible, remember the 911 dispatchers out there who are helping to hold our society together, and remember people like Jim. Theirs is exactly the kind of work we celebrate here on The Plural of You. Here’s Jim Marshall, co-founder and chair of the 911 Wellness Foundation.

Interview with Jim Marshall

JOSH: If you wouldn’t mind, tell me a little bit about the 911 Wellness Foundation. What kinds of services do you provide?

JIM: The 911 Wellness Foundation was started as a grassroots effort in 2010. It was the joining of myself as a mental health professional, who was embedded in 911 as a trainer. As I built relationships in the industry and went to conferences—we were at the NENA conference in 2011. It was the NENA Development Conference, and I was moderating sessions with the 911 family: members of the industry; stakeholders including vendors, 911 directors, folks from the government, et cetera.

We were asking and engaging in the question, “What impact does 911 stress have on the telecommunicator? What do we know about that stress, and how does it affect their families? What do we need to do about these things?” [We were] also looking at advances in 911 technology, which will include Next Generation 911, which we can go into later.

As we had these conversations, we realized there were a number of people in the industry who were concerned about creating an organization that was exclusively dedicated to asking what impact does doing 911 have on the person, the telecommunicator, and on the rest of the 911 family. We knew and I knew as a clinician specializing in trauma that there has to be an increased risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, compassion fatigue, struggles with mental health [and] relationships. We recognized that we have a number of good organizations in the 911 industry, [but] we didn’t have one agency in particular that was concerned exclusively with the well being of the telecommunicator.

The 911 Wellness Foundation came together as a joining of psychological, mental health expertise with 911 subject matter experts, with the idea that if we marry these two disciplines, we can protect the well being of the telecommunicator as we advance through the rest of this decade and subsequent decades, so they can take care of the public who they serve every day at their own risk.

JOSH: How did you get involved in this field?

JIM: I was in the classroom training telecommunicators in stress resilience. My sister is a telecommunicator. She brought me into the field. I had my first sit-along in the Eighties, when I was in my psych training. I ended up as a trauma therapist.

Over the years, I began to work more and more with folks with severe trauma, and working with folks who had relationship issues. My sister asked me to develop training in 911 stress resilience, borrowing from my work with trauma. I did that. I launched a class in the industry. It was extremely well received, and I realized these are tremendously valuable people who are at risk.

As I was in the classroom with them between 2005 and 2010, I realized, ‘You know what? If all I do is train them to manage stress, that’s not addressing the issue. What research needs to be developed? What other education needs to be offered to the public, to the government, to their leaders about their risks? We need to establish policy, we needs to reach out to make sure they get the intervention they need.’ That’s when I realized we had to have an organization to help do this.

I moved from not just training 911 but to leading the Wellness Foundation. We established in 2011 as a nonprofit, and we’re a governing-board operated organization.

JOSH: Was your major in college clinical psychology or something similar to that? What was your initial interest as a career starting out?

JIM: My Bachelor’s was in Psychology. I expected that I would become a clinician. I worked in policy and advocacy for a few years before going back to graduate school. I was with Head Start, early childhood special ed, and early childhood advocacy for kids with disabilities.

I moved into a Master’s program in Clinical Psychology at Wheaton College in Illinois. From there, [I] began clinical practice back in 1987 in northern Michigan. On the inpatient side the first couple of years, I was doing all of the psychological evaluations to help psychiatrists determine what diagnoses were wreaking havoc for people. Is this schizophrenia, is it bipolar disorder, or is it an organic disorder like a dementia?

I was doing that kind of work inpatient, doing the evaluations. In that process, I learned a lot from patients about the fact that there’s traumatic stress activating a lot of these mental illnesses. When I went into outpatient work beyond working with children—as my kids got a little older, I said, “Okay. I need to spend all of my love for children at home, not clinically.” [laughs]

As I continued to work, more and more people with traumatic stress came to me because of my work on the inpatient side. I think they knew about my work there. Word of mouth spread that I could help people with traumatic stress, and I began to specialize in that, get additional training, and that’s how it took off over the years.

My other area of specialty developed as I was a married guy with more than ten years of life experience there [laughs], more clients needing marital therapy, I focused on helping couples where trauma was a part of their relationships. I did that clinically, then developed a marriage retreat process, doing intensive marital retreat with couples.

Those are the things I did: trauma and couples.

JOSH: When you became exposed to your sister’s occupation, other 911 dispatchers and such, what did you see in common with your other specialities?

JIM: What I recognized is, as my sister and I talked and she was sharing her experiences with calls, she was dealing with people, as [were] all of her colleagues, in their worst moments of life. So was I.

They were receiving it hot and fresh, if you will. In other words, no warning, in through the headset comes the screaming of a mother whose child is not breathing. You’re dealing with a woman who’s being traumatized, who’s trying to help save the life of her child, and the telecommunicator is trying to administer, through the mother’s own hands, CPR with that child; in other situations, working with a suicidal caller.

My sister—she already knows these things—I’m realizing, “My gosh. We’re working with the same groups of people.” When they are helped by 911, they end up in the mental health unit or being referred for counseling, and they end up coming to me either when they’re still in crisis in the mental health unit or they come to an outpatient practice where I see them. We realized we’re both responders to those in psychological crisis. That was the recognition of the commonality. Therefore, as caregivers, we were at risk of vicarious traumatization—both of us.

This is the thing we realized, not only that we’re blood relatives [but] we had this in common, as well.

JOSH: I’m realizing in speaking with you that I never thought 911 dispatchers—I hope it’s okay if I use that term.

JIM: Yeah, sure.

JOSH: Okay. I never thought of them as caregivers, but that makes total sense.

JIM: In the first article I wrote for a magazine in the 911 industry, I coined the term ECG: extraordinary caregiver. That sounds like a phony pat on the back, but the way I define extraordinary caregivers is those who are exposed to abnormally heavy doses of traumatic human suffering on a frequent, unpredictable basis, and are in a responsible role of giving care. That is out of the ordinary, which is extraordinary, so they’re extraordinary caregivers. Yeah, absolutely they’re caregivers.

Think about this: when police, emergency medical, and fire responders go to the scene, they know what they’re going to. They’ve been warned and given detail by the telecommunicator. They have some psychological preparation. It doesn’t mean there’s not shocking, difficult things on scene, but who warns the telecommunicator before the mother comes screaming into her headset or his headset? Nobody. That means there’s even more intense psychological stimulation in that first moment.

There are numerous other stressors that make it difficult, too. There’s no closure often. Once the field responders arrive on scene [and] the scene is secured, they don’t know what happens ultimately to the suicidal person. They often don’t know if the child ends up living or dying. How do you stop producing stress hormones if you don’t experience a sense of closure, that the threat to someone’s life is resolved?

JOSH: How does doing this kind of work carry over into the lives of the dispatchers?

JIM: We had to answer that from clinical impressions. My sense anecdotally from all those I had talked to through the years, my relationship to the 911 industry became a family type of relationship, extending from my relationship with my sister. Inbetween hours of our class, we would take breaks, people would come to me and confide about the struggles that they were having. I knew from what they were describing that, in many cases, they were likely struggling with PTSD, with compassion fatigue, symptoms of chronic stress, depression, increased rates of obesity.

It wasn’t until 2008, when the first study was published by Roberta Troxell, and that one identified that telecommunicators likely struggled with compassion fatigue at a rate of 16.3 percent of those in any given year, if they were tested. That was a preliminary study. I would need to give you a little breakdown in about sixty seconds of what compassion fatigue is, if you’d like.

JOSH: Sure, please.

JIM: Imagine an umbrella with two handles. As you grip one handle, you’re holding onto traumatic exposure, traumatic stress. In other words, the results within a person of experiencing intense fear, horror, or helplessness when exposed to a situation in which somebody’s life was at risk or they’re at risk of serious injury.

That’s the fear factor or the trauma factor. That telecommunicator could maybe struggle with flashbacks, intrusive memories, wanting to avoid anything that reminds them of those events; also, some physiological things like exaggerated startle reflex, hypervigilance. That’s one handle of the umbrella of compassion fatigue.

The other one is what we would consider the burnout. When we talk about burnout, we’re talking about mental, emotional, physical exhaustion; struggles with a loss of interest in the job; increased irritability; maybe negativity, cynicism; some depression, not necessarily full-blown clinical depression. Those folks are apt to be seen as having “bad attitudes” or they are negative, when in fact there’s a physiological drain of being cumulatively exposed to so much difficulty with calls over a number of months and years.

It’s not just the traumatic calls: it’s the demanding calls that can make the telecommunicator frustrated, annoyed, irritated by demands that are unreasonable. Yet, they try to serve everyone in the public with respect that, to them, it’s an emergency, even if to us it doesn’t seem necessary. Compassion fatigue is the umbrella with two handles: the fear factor on one side and the burnout on the other. That’s what the first study from Roberta Troxell identified.

If you want, I’ll tell you about the next couple of studies and what we know about impacts of 911 stress.

JOSH: Sure.

JIM: In 2012, a telecommunicator named Heather Pierce decided to do more college work. She needed to do a project. She decided as part of her public health study to ask the question, “To what extent does PTSD occur in the population of telecommunicators, 911 telecommunicators?”

She and her advisor found that 9-10 percent of all telecommunicators acknowledged symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of PTSD using checklists. This is not an official diagnostic process. When this hit the media, this became a national story. It was a headline throughout the country: USA Today, Good Morning America. It really hit big, which is amazing.

The reason it was such a big story is precisely because, Josh, of the response you had: “Wow!” Most folks don’t think of the telecommunicator because they’re not physically on scene. That’s exactly why they have been underrecognized in terms of the intensity of the demand on them psychologically, and why they’re even more at risk. They aren’t receiving the help they’ve needed.

Michelle Lilly, who’s the advisor on that study, caught the bug to help 911 like I did. You begin to realize these are highly valuable people to all of us. Who do we call in our worst moments of life? It’s the 911 telecommunicator, and yet: who is helping these people? Michelle Lilly realizes as a result of this preliminary study [that] we better find out what’s really going on.

She conducted not a study of 200 people, not 500, but 808 people to make sure her data were reliable, trustworthy. What she found is PTSD—probable, based on responses to screening tools—among this population with an average of twelve years of experience. She found that the rate of PTSD suspected was between 17 and 24.6 percent, depending on whether you use civilian cutoff scores equallying 24 percent or military cutoff scores with the tools that were used. That’s incredible.

You have to realize, Josh, the rate of PTSD in the general public is 3.5 percent.

JOSH: That’s major.

JIM: Exactly. Furthermore, she found that among that sample of people, of that 808 telecommunicators, 24 percent acknowledged symptoms consistent with clinical depression using the Beck Depression Inventory, which is one of the most reliable screening tools in the world. Again, it’s just screening tools, but this is profound that the rate would be so high when the rate among the general public is maybe 2 percent.

By the way, these rates for dispatchers are at least as high or higher than for firefighters and police.

JOSH: That makes sense, given what you said earlier about how the dispatchers are the ones that prepare the other responders.

JIM: That’s right. Part of their stress is worrying if the responders will stay alive or whether they’ll die when they send them on a call. At the end of the day, if you ask any telecommunicator in the world “What is the most important thing to you in terms of what you’re there for and the fulfillment of your professional identity?” they will tell you “That everyone comes home safe.”

JOSH: That’s heavy. [laughs] Wow.

JIM: Exactly, which is why their risks are high. In all of this, I’m not trying to be a downer and be an alarmist. There’s solutions.

Your podcast is about people doing positive things. In sharing this, it’s sobering, but there’s something positive for those who do such positive work, meaning the telecommunicators. We need to take care of them as well as we take care of everybody else. That’s what the Wellness Foundation is about.

JOSH: Yeah, I was about to ask: How does the 911 Wellness Foundation help to address all of these issues?

JIM: There are four streams of activity for the Foundation. The first one is research. We have a Director of Research, Laura Reed in Florida. She’s a PhD, and she’s a specialist in research. Her study’s looking at: what kind of leadership does it take to help protect the well being of telecommunicators? That is a massive study that is outstanding. It’s a national study on Servant Leadership, borrowing from the work of Robert Greenleaf, who was a Servant Leadership pioneer.

While we do want to conduct more research, we’ve been advocates for advancing existing research and encouraging researchers who are young in their field, young PhDs, PhD candidates, even those who are mid-career to choose 911 as a topic for research. We want to advance research to ask what are the risks and what should we do to help with these risks.

The next stream is education. What we’ve done is we’ve worked—and this joins together with our policy initiative—members of the Wellness Foundation are leaders in helping the National Emergency Number Association establish the first standard in the industry for stress management. The goal there was to establish what training, education, intervention needs to take place for telecommunicators. We have been active in advancing education and policy within the industry. We also need to be able to educate the public, we need to educate the vendors, the corporate citizens in 911 so they will step up and take their corporate responsibility.

The fourth stream of activity is intervention. That means getting the proper treatment and professional support to help 911 telecommunicators heal when they’ve experienced traumatic stress, struggles with depression, compassion fatigue, et cetera.

JOSH: You mentioned Next Generation 911 earlier. I’m not familiar with what that is. Would you mind explaining that?

JIM: Next Generation 911 is a shift from standard 911 based on use of phone lines, telephony, and regular radio to an Internet protocol based communication process, where everything is running through the Internet. [This] allows for much richer data to flow to and from communication centers throughout the country: not only texting and phone but also real-time video and other media, including photographs and health data from sensors.

Let’s bring this down to you and me. Let’s say that I’m a telecommunicator. You’re a person out there, and you’re struggling with suicide. It’s possible that you may want to see a real human being rather than just talk to them. You Facetime me as a telecommunicator, and I can see your image on my screen as I’m talking to you. That may be helpful for the person struggling with suicide, or the mother who needs help with administering CPR and doesn’t know how to do it. If she has the assistance of someone else in her house, the telecommunicator can see if she’s doing it properly or improperly, and can redirect her to do more effective CPR with the real-time video.

Also, the opportunity for telecommunicators to see people with real-time video can allow them to be able to locate where the person is. Maybe they can shift their phone around so they can see landmarks, if they’re outside; if they’ve had a car accident, they’re panicky, and they don’t know where they’re at. The dispatcher can see the lay of the house in case there’s danger in that house, if they suspect that somebody’s there. If they’re injured and they can’t move, they can instruct first responders on how to get there.

There are a lot of ways in which real-time video can be helpful. Cop camera, cameras on policemen, body cameras: telecommunicators would be able to see the scene better to assist other responders. Make sense?

JOSH: Nice! Yeah, yeah.

JIM: I want to emphasize that NG911 holds tremendous promise for increasing the life-saving capacity and ability of all of our responders, including the telecommunicators—the very first responders. We do not want to be alarmist about the increased risks stress-wise that it may pose to telecommunicators. While I believe it does, we simply want to educate the stakeholders and wonder together, with the help of good research and good expertise, about what those risks are so we can help telecommunicators manage them, by the way we design Next Generation 911 technology and operating procedures, and how to put a filter, so to speak, on the firehose of real-time video and other next-gen technologies.

JOSH: I know you have a family connection to the field, but I’m wondering what else motivates you to help these people?

JIM: [laughs] Okay, so now we’re drilling down a little bit.

My father was born March 9th. He passed six years ago.

JOSH: I’m sorry.

JIM: Thank you. He is very much alive within me. My dad raised me to be concerned about those who are at the greatest risk and who are disenfranchised. He was a history teacher, educator, and a writer. He was a student of culture, as you yourself as a sociologist. [laughs]

I have always had a deep concern for populations who are underregarded, where their value is underrespected. From the first sit-along I did in 1985 with my sister, I realized people who do this job—secretaries are wonderful and we need them, operators are wonderful and we need them, but we have to be clear here. The work of the telecommunicator is far more stressful and high-risk emotionally, psychologically, and physiologically. It takes so much intellect and emotional strength, resilience, to do that job well.

Frankly, I was drawn to them because I felt they deserved the best advocacy they could get to protect them physically, emotionally, psychologically while they take care of everyone else. It triggered the part of me, Josh, that my father worked to inculcate: life is to be lived to invest in the life of other people who are deserving. I felt like this was a high-risk, underserved, underrecognized population that we all depend on.

JOSH: That’s an excellent answer. [laughs]

JIM: Thank you.

JOSH: Is there any special training or [are there] certifications required to become a 911 dispatcher?

JIM: When my sister started, there was no training identified. They thought anybody could sit behind a desk and answer a phone. Now in 2016, we’re on the verge of approving national training guidelines, an effort that’s being orchestrated by the 911 office within the National Highway Transportation Safety [Administration].

Right now, we don’t have official training standards nationwide, but there are a number of states that have been leaders in establishing state standards, that are established by the legislature with flowing funds to make sure that training is provided. Michigan, my home state, happens to be one of the leading states, where they’ve defined the different areas in which telecommunicators must be trained.

JOSH: What can listeners do to help either the people that you serve, or maybe help you and the work that you’re doing?

JIM: First, the public—if they’re really motivated, they will Google to find the non-emergency line for their county or their city’s 911 center. They can Google “[the name of their city or the name of their county] 911” and then look for the number that’s a non-emergency line number. Call that number, and tell a dispatcher [you] are grateful for the work they do—direct appreciation.

We have a major problem in the 911 industry with retaining these people because it’s so hard to keep them. The job is so stressful, but also it’s hard to find people to do this. What they found in a major study was that a key factor is they’re not appreciated, they’re not affirmed enough. Number one, the public can go direct and thank our telecommunicators.

The public can go online, they can email me: it’s 911wellness at live.com, and express their appreciation to 911. They can tell their stories about how 911 was helpful.

Let’s be clear: you can’t do the kind of work that needs to be done, to advocate, to protect these very first responders in 911, through a casual volunteer effort. The 911 Wellness Foundation is in place. We have the expertise, we have the people who are willing to do all they can on a volunteer basis to support research, education, policy, and intervention. We need funding to get these things done for telecommunicators. We need funding for the Wellness Foundation.

JOSH: Where can we follow you and the 911 Wellness Foundation online? Where can we donate?

JIM: A couple of different ways. One, they can visit our website at 911wellness.com. Then, there is a public Facebook page, which is 911wellnessfoundation. Get on Facebook and type in “911 wellness foundation.” There’s a public page, and they could possibly join our closed group if they’re truly friends of 911. It’s not for the media. This is for friends of 911 who are grateful, who are supportive. If they’re on Facebook, they can find the closed group for 911 Wellness Foundation and ask to join, then we will vet them.

We welcome everybody to go to the public Facebook page and to go to the website.

JOSH: Okay. Is there anything I haven’t asked that you’d like to talk about?

JIM: Well, you haven’t asked me what the meaning of life is yet. [laughs]

JOSH: [laughs] Oh, do you have an answer?

JIM: Of course not.

JOSH: [laughs]

Well, I really appreciate your time, Jim. I really admire what your organization is doing, and I want more people to know about it. Thank you so much.

JIM: You know what? I hope you’ll be able to receive appreciation as well as you give it, Josh. You deserve really great commendation here. To take your time to create a venue where people might be able to find encouragement and hope, we really do need your work along with work like what I’m trying to do to encourage our communities.

You know what? I tell dispatchers: you receive, in any given year, calls from only two percent of your community. Because they’re all bad calls, you start to think that everything out there is horrible and it sucks, and that it’s just a dark world. The reality is 98 percent of people are minding their own business, trying to do good, trying to take care of each other, love their family, serve their community.

We need to regain perspective, so I want to thank you for helping us regain perspective that reality includes a lot of good, as well.

JOSH: Yeah, and thank you for saying that. I really appreciate it.

That’s all I have.

JIM: [laughs] Alright, man. You take good care tonight.

JOSH: Okay. Thanks, Jim. I really do appreciate it.

JIM: Okay. Keep doing good work.

JOSH: You, too. Thank you.

JIM: Alright. Peace, man.

Conclusion by Josh Morgan

What did you think of this episode? What have your interactions with 911 dispatchers been like in the past? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter at pluralofyou, or contact me via the website at pluralofyou.org.

The Plural of You is produced by me, Josh Morgan, in rainy Edinboro, Pennsylvania. Mike Martinez created the music.

You can find show notes, past episodes, and other resources on the website, and if you’d like to have the next episode sent to you automatically, visit pluralofyou.org/subscribe to subscribe to the podcast.

If you liked my talk with Jim, check out Episode 13 with Barry Pawelek. Jim reminds me a little of Barry, who’s working from Oklahoma to help truck drivers across the US develop healthier lifestyles. That’s another group we often take for granted. You can find my talk with Barry at pluralofyou.org/013.

In closing, here’s a homework assignment.

Jim’s suggestion to call your local dispatcher and thank them is a good one, so give that a try. I made a call like this to my local dispatcher, and I got a quick “Okay, thank you”—little awkward. I’m assuming they don’t get many calls like this, and they’re busy people, so your results may vary. The point is to plant the seed that someone out there does appreciate what they do, and that can go a long way toward making them feel a bit more rewarded for their effort.

That’s all for now. Thanks for helping.