Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Terry: firefighters; honey:flies

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say the above SAT analogy has sure felt true these past few days. The Hostess-like cupcake above is a sample of some cupcakes I brought to my favorite firefighting crew on Sunday. I felt like it had been a while since I baked anything and I have all these farm fresh eggs my co-worker gave me. Mind as well use them for something good. So I just showed up at the fire station around 5:45 p.m. with just the intention of dropping them off after like a five-minute chat. There were only two guys when I came by. And one of them, James, actually invited me to stay for dinner. A hard invitation to turn down. I kept asking "Are you sure?" And then like 25 minutes later, I heard the fire engine pull in with the rest of the crew who had been out on a call. I asked James "Are you sure the guys aren't going to come in and be like 'you again?'" And he said quite sincerely, "Not at all!" And sure enough, when they all came in they were like "Hey Terry, what's up? Are you gonna stay for dinner?" So, it was a fun evening. It was a pretty healthy meal they had--spaghetti squash, chicken cooked in a marsala wine sauce, broccoli and garlic bread. They even put the TV on mute during an episode of "Entourage" because I was there. Though they didn't have to do it. One of the guys said something about cooking being "women's work" and I was like "What?!" The guys chuckled and were like "uh-oh" and a couple of them were like "Sorry Terry, We have to apologize for him." Then after dinner, James was nice enough to sit with me for a while. Before anyone thinks anything, he is very married. In fact, he started asking me about my social life out of concern when I complained about the dating scene. Never thought I'd get dating advice from a firefighter, LOL. Anyway, they had to have a group meeting so it was time for me to make myself scarce. But I was very pleasantly surprised when James hugged me goodbye. It's cool that they really think of me as a friend.

Now as though Sunday dinner wasn't already out of the ordinary...on Tuesday morning, an hour into my work day, I overhear the managing editor of the West Regional Desk say something like "so, I'm thinking Terry can go out and interview some firefighters" to my supervisor. I'm surprised my ears weren't beeping like an alarm had sounded. I went over to my supervisor and was like "What's this I hear?" He said AP's Atlanta bureau wanted to do a national story on firefighters' thoughts on Sonia Sotomayor because of that case in New Haven, Conn. Personally, I couldn't imagine firefighters following the confirmation hearings closely. But still, I was told to "go out and find some firefighters," so a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

In case you're wondering, I did not go to my local firehouse. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't interview the crew I know. Conflict of interest. Besides, I had to go to a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. So, I printed out a list from the fire dept. Web site of addresses for every fire station in Phoenix proper (gosh, I felt like a stalker for some reason). This one was less than a 10-min drive from work in a kind of sketchy part of downtown. Even though one of the garage doors was open, I strutted up to the front door and knocked. The door opened and the entire crew was there. I introduced myself as a reporter and why I needed to find firefighters to interview. The captain goes "Well, we're about to leave on a call. Do you want to come?" I thought he was joking. But as they invited me inside, I could see he wasn't. He said it would be a short call dealing with a sick kid. So without batting an eyelash, I asked "You said it would be a short call, right?" (I had to be somewhere in an hour). So, without questioning, I climbed into the back of the firetruck and off we all went--no sirens though. So, I'm sitting in the back of a fire engine discussing Supreme Court confirmation hearings and the brouhaha around Sotomayor. I also told them this was not my first time riding a firetruck, LOL. Talk about surreal.

We arrived at this cluster of homes that was more or less a trailer park. Hispanic/Latino girl, 12-years-old, sick with a fever. I got to practice my espanol a little as I explained to the family I was a reporter with the "bomberos" (firefighters). They basically checked her out and told the family they should take her to the hospital. Still not sure why they called 911 over this. We went back to the firehouse and they jokingly asked if I wanted to work out and do squats with them. I declined. Then they asked me if I wanted to slide down the pole. And I was like "Not in this outfit" (I was wearing sandals and a skirt for goodness sake. Think of the chafing). Then one of them tried to convince me that the theme from the old "Batman" TV show plays when you slide down it. I challenged him to prove it. But then by the way the captain was laughing, I knew for sure he was kidding. Anyway, I left after chatting with them a few more minutes. They all couldn't have been nicer to me.

By the afternoon, there was a story out of AP Atlanta on the wire and the last six paragraphs were all my contribution which was pretty cool. Now, if you Google my name and "Phoenix firefighters," you really will find an article, not a restraining order.

BTW, I sort of had a Phoenix Fire Dept. interaction today. I interviewed the Phoenix Fire Department Chief over the phone. I felt bad as he was actually on vacation but he said he didn't mind at all. We went off subject and I told him about my impromptu ride the day before. I also told him "off the record" that Fire Station 17 (that's the one by my home) was my favorite and how they helped me last year. He was pretty cool about it. He asked if through it all, everyone was nice to me. I said of course and I have yet to meet a rude firefighter. He was happy. The chief said besides answering calls, it's important that firefighters interact well in the community in the day-to-day of it all.

I've been asked several times "What is it with you and firefighters?!" I don't know. I never really thought about them much. I'm not one of those girls that fantasizes about them, LOL. I don't know if the universe is laughing at me or sending me a message. Or it's just all some cosmic coincidence. Geez, I know people who know me already think of me when they see cupcakes. I think it's starting to be like that with firefighters. Don't know if that's good or bad. Well, we'll see if any more "coincidences" occur.