Where there’s smoke, there’s fire! And when that smoke is on my street, the fire trucks come! In fact, 4 fire trucks came, along with a number of police cars, and a whole bunch of cars filled with gawkers to clog up the street, and make life difficult for the emergency personnel.
I feel like a kid every time I see or hear a fire truck, but I think I come by it honestly…my Dad was a firefighter and I spent a lot of time hanging out at the hall. (And, no! It wasn’t to check out the hot firemen because most of the firemen in our town had significant middle-aged spread… I felt cheated and I’m still very bitter about it!). Growing up, every time we heard a truck, my friends and I would crane our necks to see who was in it. For a brief second, that sighting of “Jenn’s Dad” made me “popular” (when I was little and shy, and often overlooked, that moment was magical)! I don’t know any fire fighter fighters now, but I still crane my neck – life-long habit?
It was a longer trip home from my parents but we beat most of the holiday traffic. I was helping Big Guy pack his car (including his hamster who had travelled with us), when our neighbour pointed and yelled that “the house down the street is on fire”. We could hear sirens in the distance so Big Guy tossed the last of his belongings in the car and left in a hurry so he wouldn’t be blocked in. I didn’t even get a hug (he came back later so I could hamster-sit while he went out for dinner with some friends so I snagged one then. I wonder what the police officer blocking the street thought about this kid wandering by on foot carrying a hamster cage? Of course, the officer left after Big Guy was back in his car down the road…). I ran in the house to get Little Guy because I thought he would be excited to see the fire trucks in action on our street but it took a solid minute to convince him to leave his Xbox game (what’s happening to our kids?)
Since the fire was on the same side as our street, it was hard to see much beyond the thick plume of smoke, so I took Little Guy’s hand and we crossed the street, and tiptoed a few houses down across our neighbour’s grass. Who has time for shoes? By now, we had several groups of 20-somethings huddled along the edge, so we invited ourselves onto one of our neighbour’s front porch for a better view. Our view was obscured by the smoke…that blew in our faces and made our clothes smell. The only time I want to smell “campfire” is in the Fall when the leaves are changing and the days are sunny and crisp. Little Guy quickly lost interest and we had to tiptoe back across the grass, which tickled our toes.
I spent the next couple of hours chatting with various neighbours on our street. None of us were oblivious to the fact that a few families’ lives had changed forever, or how easily we could lose what is most precious to us. At the end of the day, the fire was out, the trucks were gone, no lives had been lost…and that is what mattered most.
…but, I have to say, there is something about those red trucks and flashing lights that bring out the kid in me…and that’s something I hope I never lose.