I needed to pick up my cousin's car for my trip to my Grandma's house a few hours away. Scott, my cuz, works as a firefighter in LA, so he left his keys with a friend at the fire station. Unfortunately, the Super Bowl was going to start in 12 hours or so, and Scott needed to do his job as a life saver. Thus, I needed to find my way to his car. I saw his ride and breathed some relief that it wasn't anything big like the giant minivan my mom made me drive.
I arrived at the firehouse and gawked at the giant trucks. I've seen them before, and maybe stood on one as a kindergartner, but they're just so cool and shiny! And Korean fire trucks rank up there with glorified pickups. Chris, Scott's roommate, saw me ogling them and asked, "You want a tour of the fire station?" I nodded about 100 times without taking my eyes off the giant red truck.
"This one is a ladder, this one carries supplies, this is a backup ambulance, and this one is just a spare," Chris said as he pointed to different trucks. The tone of his voice told me he'd done this more than a few times. He seemed to enjoy the fact that I enjoyed this so much.
"This is the kitchen. Since we work 24 hour shifts, we eat all our meals here. One guy needs to cook on each shift, and since I'm the best cook, I cook all the time. Yes, it kind of sucks, but I never need to do dishes or any other crap-work. And yes, we cook a ton of chili. And yes, our farts stink."
"We don't have a Dalmatian, but sometimes the guys will bring their dogs. I'm not supposed to show you the dorms, but since you're Scott's cousin, let's check it out," and we climbed the stairs. I could barely talk this excited me so much. "Here are our dorms. Usually no civilian dorks are allowed, or chicks, but rules are meant to be broken."
I looked at the poles, hoping he wouldn't ask if I wanted to slide down them. I kind of did, but my fear of heights cripples me in these situations. "There are the poles. We use them when there's an emergency and we're up here. Some of the older guys just run down the stairs, because sliding down and landing roughs up your old-man knees." I thought of telling Chris about my bad knee…
But we headed down the stairs. Thank goodness gracious! I told myself. I didn't want to be asked to slide down a pole and then admit to being too scared to do it.
After the dorms, he showed me the scheduling system, the sweet private gym, a handball court and the amazing entertainment center. Then we hit the driveway that was littered with carwash stuff. "We wash and wax the engines all the time. That keeps them looking nice, and chicks dig it."
All the coolness of the firehouse made me start questioning my choice of profession as a boring-ass teacher. Who wants to bore university students half to death, write how-to-take-a-big-grammar-test textbooks (I've written one so far), grade papers and correct English pronunciation when they can dress up in fireproof armor and rescue people from burning buildings? Pick up chicks? Carry an axe and drive awesome trucks? Eat chili all day? Exercise constantly as part of your job? Star in a shirtless calendar?
Then I remembered: I'm terrified of heights, I hate driving big vehicles, and I don't even really like fire. I'd be a terrible firefighter.
But I'm glad there are other dudes who do it, and do it well. Because that is an awesome job. Stay safe out there firefighters of the world! I'm glad you do it, so pansies like me don't have to!