A long time ago somebody stated if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck then chances are its a duck. I have been on the job for five and a half years now and up until 8 months ago I had a good measure of respect for the people that I worked with. That all has changed in the last eight months and some would probably tell me to eat who needs my respect anyway. Well my answer to them is to look in the mirror and make sure you respect yourself. This story is way to long to go into with great detail, the discrimination and harassment complaint that I turned into to city was over 40 pages long. Im not usually one to complain and I am the last person to cry foul, especially racial discrimination. But damn if it just wont stop quacking, looks like a friggin duck to me. I have been forced to retire medically by reason of psychological illness. Sudden onset that involved me being arrested, left in jail while two of my union bros who hadn't seen me in a month showed up to fill out the paper work with my fiancee to have me involuntarily committed. After they put the paperwork to bed they drove past the jail where I was being held for disorderly conduct (I spent over 12 hours in the jail being tormented by my auditory hallucinations..I called the police 5 times that day and they never thought to wonder if something psyche. was going on) for the second time and went to bed. I spent the next four days in a mental facility and haven't been back to work since. Trouble is I haven't really heard from my department since either.

Total abandonment, and total exile. Sounds like someone is black-balling me. I dont need to get hit in the head with a brick more than three times (hey I still can laugh) before I get the beginning of the point. But to leave someone hanging without pay, without short term disability (was home injured someone thought I didnt need it when they chose my medical plan without my consent), and without any union support. Five letters to the department explaining my condition (I might not be able to work again and surely will never be able to handle stress the same again) have gone unanswered.

After seven long and utterly devastating months I sit on the verge of bankruptcy, no accidental retirement (three hearings and they cant seem to understand my doctors handwriting so that information must not count), and the only good news is my long term disability application was approved making me officially retired from the Mesa Fire Department. Only the second african american to retire there, and with a number of disabilities. My requests for reasonable accommodation..denied, anyone to help me with my retirement app....nah, they didnt return emails or even look at me during the hearings, any support for me and my fiancee...nah they dont exist, and they can prove it just watch them come to the rescue. OOOoops!!! they dont help people in that fire department, or is it they dont help people of color. There's that damn duck quacking again. AFLAC..sh*t that's a goose.

Michael Smith
Formerly E214 Mesa Fire Department
(oh yeah, guys and gals I can give as good as I get)
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Dont be a fire department canary...think for yourself and believe in who you are. Canaries are used to test for gas and often wind up dead.