Chapter 20, Responding

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Chapter 20

     “That guy is nuts,” says Mike.

     “I don’t know who’s crazier, him or us,” I say.

     Things at the station are quiet.  All I’m thinking about is getting some rest.  An hour of sleep is what I need to get through the rest of the night.  The reflection I see in the mirror while brushing my teeth is not pretty.  Bags have developed under my eyes.   No matter how many hour-long naps or ten-minute showers I get, the drawn and haunted look on my face will remain until I get some real rest.  The hours are starting to take their toll.  I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up this pace for much longer; it takes too long to recuperate.

    Working in the same station as the engine and ladder companies is difficult.  The temptation to hang up my rescue shoes and go back to fighting fires is sometimes overwhelming.  The rescues are out running around like nuts, taking a beating day in and day out.  The fire companies work at a more realistic pace.  This job is not designed for us to constantly be on the move.  Rather than being “on call,” we are usually “on calls.”  Dealing with a constant torrent of other people’s emergencies has a tendency to make one put their own well being aside. Before you know it, some difficult life problems creep up on you and you find yourself ill equipped to deal with it.  It’s amazing how people in our profession can be so good at handling other people’s problems, but so bad at handling our own.  Numerous studies show that the divorce rate of people in the emergency services occupation is well above the norm.  I happen to know the reason for that.  You have to come through with the manicotti.  It’s that simple.

     Every week I put myself through the same torment.  In the end I always come to the same conclusion; I actually enjoy this work.  I’m sure I’ll feel refreshed and have a better outlook when I return next week after my days off.  For now, I just have to quit being a bitch and suck it up.  I call home.  Cheryl picks up on the first ring.


     “Hey, Babe, how’s things?”

     “Good here, how about you?” 

     “Can’t complain.”

     “Yes you can and usually do.”

     “I know but I promise, no more complaining.  The people just keep calling and calling.  They never let up.  If it weren’t for all the nitwits this would be a piece of cake.  The last guy we had was a real piece of work.  He actually wanted us to take him across the city to Roger Williams so he could get more painkillers.  I’m sure Darryl will be calling any second, he’s due.  The clubs will be getting out and you know how those assholes are, and I guarantee if they don’t call some moron will crash his car or beat up his wife.  If we don’t get more rescues soon, I’m quitting.”

     “I’m glad that you’re not going to complain anymore.”

     “Complaining never got me anywhere so what’s the use?  Anyway, Happy Easter.  Do you need anything?”

     “Everything is all set.  The house is clean, Danielle is picking up my mother and Brittany is taking her home.  I’ve got the ham seasoned with Heinz 57 and cloves, the veggies are ready and my mom is making the potato croquets.”

     “Excellent.  I’m bringing the manicotti.   Who’s bringing the pie?”

     “Tara made one and Dylan brought it over.  We’re playing cards with Bob and Tara on Monday.

     “I hope they’ve been saving their money, I feel lucky.”

     “The way you’ve been playing you need to be lucky.”

      “Rescue 1 a still alarm.”

 2142 hrs.  (9:42 p.m.)

“Rescue 1 respond to 96 Gallatin Street for a twenty-nine year old female complaining of abdominal pain.”

 “Rescue 1, responding.”

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