I paid the lady, picked up my two gallons of milk, my loaf of bread and headed toward the door. As I passed the customer service counter, I was passed by a fireplug wearing bunker pants, a navy blue T-shirt and a ball cap. The ensemble was accessorized by a Motorola HT sticking out of his back pocket and a speaker-mike clipped to his department issue red suspenders.
We made eye contact, then paused to chat. Although I only worked with him a few shifts, I still knew him well enough to converse. The route of his travel and the speed of his gait told me that he was there for one of two purposes, maybe both. We chatted for a few minutes swapped a few rumors and exchanged pleasantries.
Due to the attire of my former colleague, I wondered if they were on their way back from a call or maybe coming home from the drill tower. I glanced at my watch. 1900 on a Sunday evening, that pretty much ruled out the tower.
"Been busy?" I asked.
"Not since lunchtime" was the reply. That ruled out coming back from a call. This was a purpose generated trip. Not that it matters to me, (or ever mattered to me personally) but old thought processes die hard.
The fireplug asked me about a FIRE THAT I HAD SHOT a few weeks back and if the photos were available. He may or may not be in a few of them, it's funny how much we like to see ourselves action. I told him that they were ready, that I just had to drop by a station and put them on the network. Maybe Monday.
We said our good-byes, then he went to the Red Box and I proceeded to my car. I spotted the rig as I crossed the driveway. It was parked a couple of rows up from the Jeep, taking up a couple of spaces. I almost made it to the Jeep before the captain spotted me and hailed me over.
The captain KNEW he was in a couple of the photos from the fire and he was curious how they came out. I gave him the same response and told him I would send out an E-Mail letting everybody know when the pics were available. It was good to see him, we had worked together way, way back in the day, when I was assigned to the big house of pain. We chatted for a few more minutes, then the fireplug returned to the rig.
Handshakes were exchanged and we both returned to our respective barns. Aside from me hearing that I need to get my inefficient ass down to a station and upload some pics, it was really nice to see the guys. Yet, I couldn't help but note that the fireplug had taken the risk of not being in a "B" uniform while in the store - especially when it was a purpose generated trip.
Like I said, I couldn't care less what guys wear to the store. However, there are those who wear crossed bugles who care very much. About five years ago, I had a chief tell me that if I or any my crew was caught out in the wrong uniform, I would get a day off. Not the nice kind of day off either.
Now, the reality is that there is no way a day off would stick for something as trivial as not having a class "B" shirt on, but who needs the grief of fighting the disciplinary action for several months, just to swap a day off for a written reprimand? Call me crazy, I would rather spend the minute or two an put on my "B" shirt.
It's just not worth the risk, especially when it's important to the management team and we live in an environment where one call to admin can and will produce a large dose of strife.
Of the ten chief officers in my agency, only one lives in town and there are two on duty at 1900 hrs. on a Sunday night. The one who resides in the city lives up in silk stocking acres, not near the poverty pocket where I live. One of the two on-duty chiefs should be holed up in his office in the other end of town, the other chained to his desk as well - both drowning in paper. Theoretically, the odds are slim that one would run into a chief while renting a video in bunker pants. But with every newspaper and radio talk show host in the area crying about compensation costs, people are dropping the dime on crews at an unprecedented rate.
Now that everyone carries a phone, the odds begin to shift. I'm not dissing the plug, nor his captain. I'm just saying that as a player of odds, I don't like the risk benefit analysis. The numbers just don't add up.
Thanks for reading,
PS - see y'all are not the only ones who are victims of my procrastination, my brothers and sisters of the KBFPD have to wait for the shots as well!