Exhaustion and Pride, and Volunteering

I just woke up from about a half hour nap. Rare are the days when I am afforded such luxury, and I could have probably stretched this particular nap to almost twice as long, but I don’t think my body remembers how to do it anymore.

I spent yesterday running between two jobs. 8-12 at the IT job, then a skull-numbing 3-11 on the road. Something minor came up near shift end, so I didn’t get home until midnight. By the time I got to bed, it was pushing 1am.

At 6, Mini-Me woke up wet, and fussy enough that getting him back to sleep after a change of diaper and clothes was out of the question.

I spent three hours after that at The Narrator’s school where my fire department hosts fire prevention day. We visit the classrooms and teach the kids about fire safety and prevention, what to do in an emergency, and all that…Well, I don’t. I get to be the guy in the turnout gear and air pack that crawls through the classrooms to show the kids what we look like, sound like, and what we do in a search. The upside is that I got to go into The Narrator’s class, and my father was the presenter. The kid had his father and grandfather in his classroom today, and it was so much fun.

The downside is that it exhausted me. The gear is hot and heavy, and we squeezed nine classrooms in to the schedule in just under three hours. I am now looking at another 3-11 this evening, so I needed that nap.

Thing is though, I can’t complain.

My air pack partner today works with another law enforcement agency and worked from 3pm yesterday to 7am this morning. He then came to fire prevention day and spent three hours in a pack with me. He is also on again tonight, but 7pm to 7am. Earlier if his supervisors call him in for overtime again.

So as screwed up as my schedule has been- his is worse. But it also speaks to the dedication of the people I work alongside. Here’s a guy who just pulled a 16 hour shift on the road, and STILL volunteered to spend his time teaching elementary school kids about fire safety before he nabs a couple hours of sleep and goes off to do another 12 hour shift.

I am glad as hell that I can be working in the ranks with people like that. Or the retirees who are still getting out of bed in the middle of the night in the middle of winter to fight a fire or stand in front of a classroom of kids and teach them about safety.

One of the teachers in the classrooms said it best today. “These guys are members of your community. They are the mommies and daddies of some of your classmates and friends. They have other jobs and are regular people too. Someday, that could be YOU standing there and teaching other boys and girls.”

There were a few wide eyes as the little ones looked at the teacher as if to say “Me? I could do that? COOL!”

I think that was a better part of the day than the nap was.

I love what I do, I love the people I do it with, and wouldn’t trade it for 100 of the most restful nights and weekends on earth.

…at 101 you might have a deal, but I wouldn’t trade any less than that.

Now if you don’t mind, I need to medicate with coffee and Gatorade before I head off to work.



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