I went to the local firefighter’s breakfast fundraiser, benefiting Good Sam’s Mario Pastega House, last weekend. I find men in uniform alternately repelling and enthralling, so when I arrived I wasn’t sure whether to run away from the horde of blue or run toward it. They had pancakes, though, so I ended up staying. I have to say, the $6—for endless pancakes, access to a five-pound tub of butter, and an array of generic, flavored syrups—is $6 well spent. I was also pleased to find the firefighters who helped serve the patrons their assorted breakfast items (ham slabs and griddled eggs were also an option) were smiling, hygienically attractive, and not pouring rivers of sweat, jabbing a giant needle into my chest for an emergency intracardiac injection, like the last time I shared my company with firefighter-EMTs.
Everyone I saw was delightfully needle-free, which really helped me relax and enjoy the atmosphere. Larval-stage humans (called “toddlers”?) romped about the interior of the fire station, which had been cleared of ambulances and fire trucks to make room for all the seating, sizzling griddle stations, and plastic tables bearing five-gallon insulated drink dispensers, which poured out coffee or Tang with a squeeze of their recessed thumb-triggers. After snarfing down my sugar-and-carb laden plate, then biting decorative teeth-marks into the side of my Styrofoam coffee cup, I snuck into one of the fire engines.
OK, access was actually freely granted–perhaps I had to move a few “toddlers” out of my way—regardless of how I got in there, I got in there. There were red dome lights in the ceiling, and gas masks dangling, and bright red seatbelts. If it had been just a little bit bigger it would have made for a great nightclub. I strapped myself in and surreptitiously donned a bulky headset communication device. Immediately waves of anxiety and nausea washed over me. What if the sirens went off? What if the engine started moving, coursing across town to the gaseous inferno formerly known as the Peacock? And Shalimar Incognito was discovered and enlisted? What if I was handed a giant needle and expected to—
I removed the headset, unstrapped myself, and tumbled down the precipitous fire engine steps. Laying on the ground and looking up at the sky, as toddlers played hopscotch around my splayed limbs, I had a realization: Responsibility for people’s lives and their property? I’ll take the intracardiac injection, please.
Tell me if I’m being unreasonable.
By Shalimar Jones