Being self-employed, I try to schedule appointments at times of day when other people are in their office. Not only do I write and work better later in the day anyway, I remember the hassle of trying to get early morning or late evening appointments for everything from the doctor’s office to haircuts when I worked 9-5, so why take up those slots when I can work around a daytime appointment.
Today I had a manicure at noon in the town where my husband is a firefighter/paramedic and I needed to stop for gas on the way home. It had been awhile since I took my car through the car wash so I decided to purchase one in the automated car wash at the gas station. I carefully turned my SUV mirrors in so they wouldn’t be sticking out and then headed into the car wash.
As I drove out of the machine I heard a weird humming noise from the roof and was startled to see something narrow and black in my peripheral vision. I turned my head and realized that a huge piece of trim was hanging off the roof on the driver’s side. I looked to the right and there was the trim hanging off the passenger side, too. They looked like huge feelers like you would see on a bug, curving down and all the way to the ground.
I had never really noticed that I even had trim that ran along both sides of my roof, but I quickly was able to press it back into the slots. After I pressed it back into submission I got into my car and headed home. Worried that it might fly off when I reached the highway, I called my firefighter husband at work.
One of the biggest misconceptions about firefighters is that they sit around the firehouse watching TV, stroking their mustaches, and cooking up huge batches of chili while waiting for a fire to break out. That could not be further from the truth, at least in the city where he works. The reality is that they are busy from the moment they arrive in the morning, all through what the rest of us know as a traditional work day, and then maybe get a chance to relax after dinner. Usually, though, they are still working on various responsibilities or running calls all evening and quite frequently are on the go all throughout the entire 24 hour shift.
Knowing that his station was probably doing training since it was a weekday afternoon, I asked him, “Hey, are you in the middle of training or do you have 5 minutes to look at my car? The trim came off when I went through the car wash.”
“Yeah, I can run out and look. They’re training out back (in the training tower) but I am free.”
Hoping he wouldn’t get called out in the ten minutes it would take me to get to his station, I headed there. As I pulled up I saw at least a dozen firetrucks lined up along the entire driveway, making it so that I had no room to make the corner into any of the parking spots for cars. I pulled to the back of the station to turn around and try from the other direction or park on the street and found myself in the middle of even more trucks and engines and nowhere to go. There were five or six firefighters in their gear standing at each truck, all watching me with great interest as I tried to figure out where to go. While I know all of the people at my husband’s house, I did not know a single one of the ones who were watching my confused little jaunt through their training exercises but I could feel the stares.
I pulled up next to a curb and tried to call my husband to let him know that I was there and where I should park, completely aware that they were all watching me, EVERY SINGLE ONE probably wondering who this (crazy) woman in a soccer Mom SUV was in the back of the fire station, utterly confused and totally out-of-place and whipping out her cell phone.
“Park back out front,” my husband called to me as he came out of the firehouse and saw me sitting awkwardly surrounded by emergency vehicles, “Don’t hit anyone” he added.
One of my favorite things about my GMC Acadia is that even though it’s large and I couldn’t park in any of the tiny spots in front, it has a great turning radius and I can turn it around in a circle in surprisingly small spaces, including the small amount of space between me and the shiny red ambulance that was sitting in front of me. I’m sure the guys with that ambulance thought for certain that I was going to hit them, but I made the turn beautifully and headed back to the front of the firehouse.
“Pull in here,” my husband indicated.
“But that’s handicapped!” I told him.
“Just pull in here!” he told me.
“I didn’t realize I could park here, it’s handicapped,” I said as he gave me the “Seriously, it’s for 2 minutes” look.
“I am so embarrassed, every single one of those guys were openly staring at me like ‘where the hell is this woman going!’ Then you had to tell me not to hit anyone!” I laughed.
There is a long running joke in our family about the time I “almost drove into the Wendy’s building” on vacation, which has gotten completely blown out of proportion. The rest of the family was asleep and woke up as I approached the building to try to read the sign with the hours on the front door. Because I was at an awkward angle and quite close to the building, nobody would believe me that I was just looking at the sign and did not in fact “almost hit” anything. Over the years it has grown and changed like a “big fish” story and is something we love to laugh about together. I’m waiting for my husband to bring this incident up when I talk to him later today about my journey through the training class.
Fortunately in order to be married to a firefighter you have to be able to accept a fair amount of good-hearted teasing and ribbing. I’ll be ready the next time we are at a benefit or holiday outing to be the wife who drove into the middle of the training exercise, but for now I’m just glad the trim wasn’t hanging off my car while I did it!