I like hearing rumors as much as the next gossip monger, though I understand that rumors are just that - rumors and that though there may be some truth in most rumors, the amount of it may be very small and thus most should not be relied upon to be of much use.
The fire service has always been a breeding ground for rumors, despite all sorts of training, warnings and admonishments. Like most other human shortcomings, rumors are not controlled by edict, but by self control and moral standards. Like most humans, we fail miserably at controlling them.
While visiting with some firefighters at one of our stations recently, the topic of conversation shifted to one of our more infamous members, one that is known by everybody on the job. The actions of this particular member are widely known and thus widely discussed. The course of this conversation therefore was predictable - almost pre-ordained.
Though I don't always agree with this particular member, we are on some level, friends. I speak with him semi-regularly and have some knowledge of how he thinks and what makes him tick. Several weeks ago, we had a conversation regarding an incident that he had responded to and his actions while there. He did not discuss the gory details of the call with me, but gave me enough information to get the gist of the call and of the circumstances leading up to it. As I had seen him several hours before the incident, I knew of his actions during the day and of the events leading up to it.
During my visit with the firefighters and the conversation regarding our infamous member, the above mentioned incident came to light as did some rumors about it. I initially did not make it known that I had discussed that same incident with the main participant, but listened to the rumors and the justifications behind them. Frankly, I found it amusing as I digested the information. I found the bridges between fact, supposition, speculation and fabrication to be interesting, almost fascinating. I also learned a few things, filling in some informational gaps of my own - leftovers from my initial conversation with my friend.
Understanding that there are those who have an axe to grind with my infamous brother, makes it easier to understand the malicious nature of some of the components of the rumor. It is also easy to understand how a lack of information made it easy for others who were there to speculate on his actions. His high profile and unorthodox decision making process made it easy for the rest of the organization to put all of the components together and begin spreading rumors.
At some point, I advised my fellow rumor mongers that I had discussed the incident with the participant and had ran into him a few hours before the event. My disclosure and knowledge of the incident pretty much filled in the informational gaps held by the firefighters and dispelled the more derogatory elements of the rumors. It also verified some of the facts regarding the incident, ones that actually shed some positive light on my friend's actions.
I could see the lights come on in the face of one of the firefighters, a captain who has been in the business almost as long as I have. It was almost as if he didn't want to believe the negative components of the rumors, but had been sucked in by the insipid nature of them and by the infamous reputation of the subject. When the gaps were filled and the facts known, his expression was one that appeared to be of relief. Hopefully, he will dispel the the rumors when they come up again, as they most surely will.
Time will tell on that. It will also be interesting to see if my revelations of the matter will be viewed as enlightening and as a beacon for the truth, or as an alibi for a friend and the ramblings of a co-conspirator.
Time will tell on that as well.
Thanks for reading,