“It’s RAINING, it’s POURING, the old man is SNORING!”
As I approached the man, and delivered my salutations, he responds with a hearty, “and a good morning to you TOO!” The breeze was just heavy enough to cause his jacket to flap in the wind ever so slightly. His suspenders hung loosely around his knees, and his mustache bounded as he yelled in my general direction.
Something about that mustache raised the suspicion in me. The sheer size and perfect shape of the bushy rug which was perched upon his upper lip alerted the Holmes within. Indeed, there was a gale which was stronger than the rest of the kiddy-breezes, and it flapped his jacket so hard, I was able to sneak a quick glance at his blue t-shirt beneath. Just as I suspected – Sergeant, FDNY.
I knew that mustache must have belonged to some back-in-‘nam-esque character, and the creases on his face denoted what I could only guess to be many terrifying firefights throughout his ever increasing life. As he waved his gargantuan red pet through the 181st street exit, he had the biggest smile in his face, knowing full well what he was about to get himself into. When the oversized transport, of both people and water alike, managed to stick its nose into the furthermost lane of the 4 lane road which exists on 181st, the jolly ol’ man swung forth the door behind the driver, and mounted the cherry red firetruck.
At this precise moment, the gargantuan firetruck’s siren began to blare, and my world seemed to shatter. From all around me swarmed a score of firemen, an additional firetruck, and a GMC Yukon painted in the traditional chief’s white and red. I hadn’t even noticed, but before Jolly held up his hand to stop me, and yelled out his praise to the heavens about the weather, I managed to wander into the midst of the fire station’s driveways.
It seemed as if Jolly’s fire truck was a favorite for the veterans, as the seasoned fighter’s began to take their stations on his truck. The other metallic monster seemed to house the younger and fresher blood. These were Washington Heights’ fire departments future, fresh from their high schools and colleges, and ready to make a name for themselves. Ready to save some lives. No doubt, virgins to the screams of a man with his flesh on fire.
As the initial truck began its ascent towards the general further uptown area, I trudged away, with the smallest fire that day raging deep within me. I can only speculate as to how much of a sacrifice that job, that profession, that lifestyle choice, must be. Each and every day, putting their lives on the line to save another human being’s. I turned back for one last glance, and saw Jolly, hanging onto the truck with his feet planted firmly on the running boards, his coat flapping behind him wildly in the wind. As the truck sped towards the flames, it’s sirens blaring a ear-shattering sound, Jolly turned back for one last glance, and as he waved, I tipped him my hat. The people of New York City thank you for putting your life on the line, day in, day out, period. No questions asked.