Every job is an opportunity to serve

Gordon Simmons’ dedication to others makes him this month’s Hometown Hero.

Every job is an opportunity to serve humanity. It’s not the job title we hold, but how we do our job that counts.

With today’s economy, a lot of people are having to work longer into their retirement years than they had planned. Many people are having to come out of retirement to work.

For Gordon Simmons of Simmons Towing, serving others through work is what life is all about.

At age 78, he says he has an opportunity each day and night to serve people. He remarks with one of his big signature smiles. “We can make a difference in someone’s day either for good or negative, even in a short interaction. Whether a person is a cashier or a telephone operator, it’s all an occasion to give the gift of genuine service.”

Simmons made a difference in Sandy Warren’s day.

“I was having one of those awful days where nothing, I mean nothing, was going right. And then to top it all off, my car started sputtering and I had to pull off to the side of the road.

“I didn’t know how I was going to afford to fix the car, and now I couldn’t get to work. I was in the worst kind of mood when I called Simmons towing.

“Within minutes this sweet older guy showed up with a big, warm, caring smile. At first I thought to myself, ‘Gosh, he’s seems older than I expected for this kind of work.’ But immediately I was put to ease, and felt better about my day, because this guy wasn’t just there to haul my car off the road, he cared about my situation. He cared about me! I felt like my own grandfather had come to rescue me, and do whatever he could so I could get to work.

“This guy Gordon turned my whole mood around that day, from being sour to feeling it was my ‘lucky’ day.”

Simmons says, “I’m asked all the time, why don’t I retire? But working gives me an opportunity to serve people 24 hours a day. Why would I want to give that up?

“Being needed is a great feeling. And 90 percent of the people we serve are wonderful,” he says with that reassuring warm smile of his.

“I try not to dwell on the 10 percent that try their best to blame their problems on me. Those 10 percent are just part of life we all have to deal with.” He threw his one hand up and smiles, is if to ask, “What are you going do?”

Gary Peterson has worked for Simmons Garage and Towing for 16 years. Everyone who works there loves the guy, Peterson says of the boss. He’s a true role model for that old-fashioned hard work ethic, whether it was his 45 years volunteering at the fire department, or at the Simmons shop or out on the road.

And when Simmons had his open heart surgery about 10 years ago, he came in the office and sat down and told the crew the doctor said he wouldn’t be able to go out on calls anymore.

“He literally sat down and cried,” Peterson says.

“But he showed them wrong, not even open-heart surgery could keep him down. He is called to serve people, and he does it through his business.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but when they call Simmons Tow after 5 p.m. and before 8 a.m. they are ringing Gordon’s home. It could be 11 p.m. or 3 a.m., he answers the call for help and out he goes with one of his big trucks or flatbed,” Peterson explains.

“He never makes people feel that it was any inconvenience at all. He wakes up and thinks to himself, ‘Oh boy, I get to work another day.’

“He’s an inspiration to all about how to look at working,” Peterson adds. “In these times in our country we need to get back to basics, producing products and offering great service. He’s a good reminder that if we have work to go to, we are fortunate, much more so than most of the people in the world. He’s not only my boss, he’s my father-in-law, my friend, and someone I greatly admire. You don’t work for Gordon, you work with him.”

Simmons says each call out is different. One call that he went on north of Greenbank was an enclosed trailer full of three giant, growling brown bears. He’s hauled out submerged vehicles, and has saved horses that have fallen off cliffs. He has come upon very tragic accidents as well.

Roy Simmons, a Clinton resident, says his cousin is just the person you’d want to find by your side in your moment of need.

“He treats every tow call like a fire pager, and responds immediately,” he notes.

“Gordon is always compassionate. Recently while the fire department was extricating a driver from their car, Gordon managed to get in beside the person and comfort them by assuring them and holding their hand the entire time.

“Gordon is one of the original pillars of the community,” Roy Simmons quickly adds. “He has given countless hours helping out his neighbors. He is generous with his time and always wanting to help the other person, thinking of them before himself.”

“Sometimes what seems like a really bad day just could end up alright after all,” adds Paula Schuler of Fire District 3.

“Gordie is South Whidbey’s Rescue Angel. Gordie is service with a smile,” Schuler says. “He arrives cheerful and eyes twinkling. He’s pretty unflappable and always gives one the feeling it’s going to be OK no matter if it’s a flat tire, dead battery or your car’s upside-down in a ditch. Rescue Angel is on his way, and he’s sure to turn around your day.”

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