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Another Angle: Badge of Honor

To the Madeira Beach McDonald’s burger bagger who refused to serve two Florida paramedics because “we don’t accept officers in here”:

Thank you.

It’s an honor to be compared to cops. I consider them role models. And you’re right, our shields and uniforms are similar. I see that as something positive because it reminds me I belong to a pretty special group.

Police officers have saved my butt more than once. They’d save yours too, even though you don’t like them. Protecting people like you and me, no matter how different we are, is their secret sauce.

May I share a little history with you? It won’t take long. Pretend you’re waiting on a Quarter Pounder.

EMTs and paramedics have been seeking respect since the late ’60s. I was in high school then, working in a burger joint like you, but without the arrogance. My parents would have beaten the crap out of me if I’d disrespected uniforms the way you did.

I’m guessing you’re a lot younger than I am. No problem, I’ll summarize my coming of age in familiar terms: McDonald’s sales were still in the millions, the Big Mac had just been introduced, and You deserve a break today was the jingle we couldn’t get out of our heads.

You probably would have liked paramedics better back then. Their uniforms weren’t as uniform, and they didn’t need no stinkin’ badges. I was still 20 years away from joining EMS. I wish I hadn’t waited that long. I doubt you’d understand.

Back to 2019, EMS still doesn’t have the pizazz of fire or police, but your July 31st meltdown got my industry more publicity than a McRib reintroduction. All you had to do was denigrate a whole class of people—not so unusual these days. Anyway, thanks for the supersized PR; you couldn’t have helped us more if you’d meant to. I’d hug you, but my badge might get in the way.

Maybe you’re not a bad person. Your remarks could have been misunderstood. When you told those Sunstar paramedics, “We don’t serve your kind here,” maybe you meant their sandwiches. Sometimes we forget “Have it your way” is a Burger King thing.

Still preoccupied with “officers”? There’s a solution: Ignore the uniforms and think of us as customers. Just be nice and helpful and all that. It’s even better for business than free refills. Then you can tackle the more challenging parts of your profession, like not running out of French fries.

Never mind that last suggestion—I hear you’ve been fired. Your ex-employer says your actions don’t represent its values. I believe it. Leave the name tag, take the attitude.

You could apply to EMS, but it might mean a pay cut. Plus, you’d need a uniform—a real one, without ketchup stains. If that’s a deal-breaker, stick to fast food. I hear there are so many openings, restaurants will take whomever they can get. That sounds like your kind of job market.

Meanwhile, if you need an EMT, paramedic, police officer, or pretty much anyone with a badge, we’ll be there, because even you deserve a break.

Mike Rubin is a paramedic in Nashville and a member of EMS World’s editorial advisory board. Contact him at

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