Our city is looking for more part-time firefighters. I was reminded of this recently by our Fire Chief, on his daily breeze through City Hall (some say he stops in to pick up mail, but it’s really to inspect the premises for fire hazards and it’s always a mad scramble to extinguish my candles before he comes around the corner.)
He asks me if I want to become a part-time firefighter. Of course, there’s always the remote chance he is teasing. But, assuming the department actually wants out-of-shape grandmothers with weak lungs and a fear of fire, I tell him I’ll consider it. I might look kinda cute in the gear.
Unlike a lot of kids, “firefighter” never appeared on my childhood list of things I wanted to be when I grew up. Perhaps that’s because back then, they were called “firemen,” like police officers were called “policemen” and mail carriers were “mailmen.” Most of the girls I knew wanted to become teachers or nurses, but maybe that’s because we considered those our only options. I figured I’d follow in the footsteps of my mother and sisters, all teachers. But a month of teaching Vacation Bible School in my teens cured me. Now, the only times I regret not becoming a teacher are summer, Christmas, and Spring Break.
I remember playing “secretary” a lot. I’d set up my desk with Mom’s old portable typewriter, a toy telephone, and an overturned toy cooking pot with red and green dots painted on it for my intercom—essential for alerting the invisible boss in the next room to incoming calls.
My Grade 8 English teacher, Mrs. Armstrong, told me I showed promise as a writer. For that, I’ll love her forever.
In high school, I studied office procedures, shorthand, and typing. While the shorthand turned out useless and obsolete, the typing has served me well both as an administrative assistant and as a writer. Sometimes when I’m doing nothing, my fingers are mentally typing the words I am thinking. Does this happen to you?
In an informal Facebook survey, I asked a few friends what their childhood aspirations had been, and was surprised by how many women said “veterinarian.” I remember having that thought briefly myself.
“Athlete” proved popular for both genders. One person (possibly related to me) confessed she is probably the fastest runner in the world but is relieved to have kept that talent under wraps since she hates running.
How about you? Do you still dream dreams you wish you had followed? What are you waiting for? Maybe you’re young enough to have a variety of sparks still burning, but for many of us, only a fragile ember remains. One thing none of has is the option of starting sooner.
I think I’ll pass on the firefighting opportunity and hope stronger, braver, healthier people apply. What I get to do suits me fine, and I concur with King David who, in Psalm 16, said: “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup…you have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”
(And I was kidding about the candles, Chief.)
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