My grandpa used to take me for walks to feed the ducks by his house. After we’d finished feeding them we’d always visit the firehall across from the creek. We’d check out the trucks, examine the shiny firepole and talk to the firemen. Even though I was no older than Miss S is now, the moment we happened to be there when the bells started ringing is etched in my mind.
Pressed against the inside wall of the station- yes, right beside the moving truck- with my hands over my ears, I was hypnotized by the flashing lights as they disappeared down the street. Cat, old lady, rabid dog, it didn’t matter who they were helping, I was hooked.
Today, our house sits on an emergency route. This is a huge perk if you have young children, or remember your grandpa every time you see a red truck with flashing lights. It is also a huge annoyance if you are nosey, and want to know what’s going on in your neighbourhood.
True, I have just recently found a little ditty called ScanBC on the internet, where one can listen to emergency radio transmissions, but it just added more noise to our already noisy house, so I don’t bother… talk to me in about forty years and it may be a different story.
Living on an emergency route isn’t unbearable. The mornings my husband leaves on his bicycle for work and then ten minutes later an ambulance whizzes by definitely makes me cringe, and stalk him at work until he picks up the phone. Then there was a period when, without fail, a firetruck would rumble down the road seconds after we’d put Miss Q and Miss S to bed. But, for the most part, emergency vehicles racing down our street is maybe a three times a 24-hour occurrence.
My brother, Uncle M, became a firefighter last fall. As luck would have it, he works at the station around the corner from us.
Four on, four off. I have to remember when he’s working so the littles don’t fall over themselves over every truck that cruises past.
With ears like hawks, the littles can hear the siren coming and will stop everything for a chance to jump on the couch and wave through the window at Uncle M. I’ve got to watch what I wear – apparently everyone’s on display in our front window.
Last Tuesday as Miss S and I were having some quality daughter/mum bonding on the couch, watching The Karate Kid, Uncle M’s truck raced past. Miss S jumped and waved, leaving Mr. Miyagi in a lurch. ”I like Uncle M the best. He’s the best firefighter. But I don’t know where he’s going to,” she said.
“I don’t know either. He’ll be happy to hear that.”
“Yeah, he will,” she said confidently, then snuggled back down.
I’d like to add, that The Karate Kid was Miss S’s first ever 80′s movie and I switched channels during the outside the ring fight scenes, so maybe my mum points are semi-restored?
Though it may seem like my girls have a friend on the emergency route out our front door, I’m wondering if I might actually have a foe. After all, what kind of a brother would Uncle M be if he didn’t use his new job to its full advantage?
Now he gets to wind up my children; force me to hear them utter his praise; and cut through my precious zzz’s with the piercing siren at 3 a.m.
Of course, there is the fact that I get to sit in a cozy house, sip tea and watch movies while he works in the rain, so maybe we’re even.
The only difference between the flashing red lights of 33 years ago, and the ones of today is: today they flash a little brighter as they carry our Uncle M to the scene of an accident, fire, or cat stuck in a tree.