In five years as a firefighter... the job has interrupted many aspects of my life. Dinner. Social gatherings. Bathroom breaks. Sleep. Even sex -- once, when I was a volunteer. The only aspect of my life untouched by the job was the shower. Well, you can strike that one. That streak came to an end last Monday.
I had worked the night before as part of a 36-hour shift and wanted to clean up before my company taught a morning CPR class. I had been in the shower just long enough to wash my hair and soap up my entire body when our tones sounded... and the panic set in. Supposedly, my captain yelled at me not to worry and to drive our smaller brush rig to the scene as the rest of the crew responded in the engine. I say "supposedly" because I heard none of it.
Foolishly, I hopped out of the shower and hit what I thought were the important parts of my body with the towel. Face. Chest. Groin. Somehow, I overlooked my feet. As I hopped -- and I do mean hopped -- out of the bathroom and into the bunkroom, I did my best to pull on my shorts with each jump. I made it to my bed and tried to pull on my bunker pants & boots. When wet feet and leather boots meet, I now know that the boots will always win. My feet only went in each boot halfway. In fact, no part of either heel was anywhere near the boot's sole -- my feet were two wet to go any further. I didn't let that phase me.
I continued the hopping action down the stairs because it's next to impossible to walk or run when you feet don't touch the bottom of your shoes. I took my one-man spectacle through the administrative offices downstairs and out to the apparatus bay only to hear the engine pulling off without me. In five years as a firefighter, I'd never been left by a rig I was supposed to be riding on. There went another streak out the window.
On my own, I jumped in the brush rig and headed towards the accident. It was a pretty good wreck. We had to do some heavy lifting to pull open a door and free one occupant. Two others were transported to the hospital. Throughout it all, the inside of my boots maintained the humidity level of a small equatorial island. And even though we were on scene for an extended time, my right heel never made it all the way into its boot.
In the two shifts since, I haven't had the courage to visit the shower again. When I return, I'm sure I'll complete my mission in half the time... And even if I make it through without a call, my feet will not be ignored again.