But only for a visit. I was invited and asked to speak to our local Jr. High Students. It was "career day". Why they have that at Jr. high and not high school I do not understand. Anyway, the counselor asked me, along with several other folks of various professions to speak.
Some of the frequent questions: Do you have a dog at the firehouse? Do you have a pole to slide down? Is it hot? And so on. Possibly my favorite exchange of the day:
Student: "What's the coolest thing you've ever seen?"
Me: "I once saw an F-4 Phantom simulate a low level bomb run over me."
Student: (blank look) "what?"
Me: "It's an airplane."
Student: "No, I mean the coolest thing at the fire department."
Me: "We have a thermal image camera that lets us see through smoke and darkness."
Student: "Uh! No, the coolest thing."
Me: "Well, I saw I guy that got his arm torn off."
Class: "Way cool!! did you see blood?"
And so many of the questions went. Although, there were some good questions, and some of them seemed interested in being a firefighter. Several of the girls perked up when I told them we had female firefighters.
I was asked what made me want to become a fireman. I had not thought about it in years, it's just something I am now. But I remember why I chose this profession.
In high school, my grandfather kept asking me what I was going to do for a job. My eyes wouldn't let me be a military pilot, so I said I didn't know often. He finally set me down and told me something I'll never forget.
He said son, in this world you're gonna have to have a job if you want to have anything at all. You don't want to be dependent on anybody else to make sure you have food on the table for you and your family. You better find a job that you like doing, 'cause you're gonna be doing it a long time. And you better find something that will be around for a while too. Just remember, people are always gonna need policemen, and firemen, and doctors and nurses, and plumbers and electricians, and here in Texas, we'll always need somebody to work on an air conditioner.
My grandfather was a very smart man.
I fell in love in high school (I thought it was love) and got married just after. I needed a job and went to work at Texas Instruments in Dallas. I worked for a machine shop and did assembly type work, both electrical, and mechanical. I was going to school at night and went to EMT school. It was all down hill from there.
In EMT school, I found people that wanted to help others. A group that would do things because people were counting on them. I wanted to be a part of that. In my part of the world, answering emergency calls as an EMT or Paramedic meant being on a fire department, so that's what I did.
It took a few years, competition is tough. Along the way, I almost became a policeman, almost. While I was working at TI, I could walk in on Monday, and tell you what I would be doing on Friday. I never liked that. I don't know if i wanted excitement, or just unpredictability, but I got it with the fire department. You just never know what you might see or do.
So, why did I want to be a fireman?
I like being a part of a great group of people. I like doing many different things. I like helping people. I like having a job that will be around a while.
And big red trucks and playing with water is cool too!!