Meeting your real life heroes

A few weeks ago at the office of the company that I work for, a fire broke out.

Well, that’s what the fire alarm thought anyway. Reality had a different opinion. It ended up being the same thing that most such alarms end up being: a faulty sensor. But of course the fire department had no way of knowing this beforehand, and since this was a good-sized office building with hundreds of people working in it, their response was proportionate. They sent the fire marshall in his red SUV, a ladder truck, and a pumper truck.

The two floors below us in the office building are occupied by doctors’ offices. During the alarm everyone had to evacuate the building, including their patients. So the crowd outside of the office building ended up being more varied than one would expect under such circumstances; in particular, it contained a number of children who had either been going to the doctor or been dragged along by their parents (this was before school started).

The firefighters entered the building in full firefighting gear. One of my coworkers remarked that there was a lot of action going on, to which I responded “No, there’s a lot of axe-tion going on,” while pointing to an axe that one of the firefighters was carrying, thus cementing my win of the office pun of the week award.

The firefighters played around with the fire box inside for a little bit before determining that it was, indeed, a false alarm. Since it was a sweltering summer day, they let us in to the air conditioned lobby while we waited for the elevators to be reactivated. At this point a mother and her son, who had been away from the axtion at the rear exit of the building, entered the lobby. They had not seen any firefighters yet.

The boy was standing right next to the elevator in the lobby when it opened up and three fully geared-up firefighters emerged. His eyes lit up like the Tsar Bomba as he reverently gazed at what one can only conclude were his heroes. The reaction to being just feet away from real life firefighters was immediate and evident. Kids are honest; they don’t hide their emotions. I watched as his gaze followed the firefighters all the way out the front entrance, not missing a moment even to blink.

A funny thing happens as kids grow older. When they’re young, they all want to be firefighters or policemen. As they grow older, cold hard reality begins to intrude: these professions are low-paying and dangerous. The only benefits are the societal, although sadly not monetary, kudos often afforded to them. But who would have the heart to disabuse the notions of a kid who wants to become a firefighter? Not I.

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