Jake (19) recently got accepted into LSU's Fireman Training Progam -- a very tough, thorough rookie training class. It's run very well (firefighters from all over the state and all of the chemical plants train there), and it's tough to get accepted into the program, but he did it. It's also run very much like a military organization, with rules, etc., and there seems to be great respect from the trainees for their teachers / Chief. There's a motto on a large sign when you're driving into or out of the barracks, which says, "Your job is walking into HELL. Our job is to make sure you walk back out."
I'm really proud of Jake, and I only had one slight concern about him in this program, and it's probably not what you're thinking (fire). (Well, okay, scared of that, too, but his brother constantly sets himself on fire by accident, so I'll be glad at least one of them knows how to put him out.) Anyway, my biggest concern for Jake was: will he wake up every morning on time? Because these people don't fool around, you have to be up and dressed in complete uniform and ready to go exactly when they say. Unfortunately, Jake could sleep through a freight train running down the middle of his bedroom. He has slept through hurricanes, his brother throwing things at him, his dad pouring ice water on him, various people stepping over and / or on him. My only hope was that, hey, this is at a firehouse and they have a loud alarm, right? Surely that would wake him up.
Every so often I'll see him for a few minutes and get a status report. The majority of the time, they're super positive and he's all lit up, excited. Happy. It's amazing to see him happy. Tonight, though, when he stopped by here for a few minutes, we were talking and he started to reach for something and said, "Ow," just for extending his arm too fast.
I said, "What's wrong?"
"I, um, had to do a bunch of push ups."
(The Chief will give them 80 push ups if they step foot over the threshold of the barracks without one piece of their gear on properly. It's important that they learn they absolutely must do everything in order, consistently, especially when putting on their safety equipment.)
"How many push ups did you have to do?"
He lowered his head, looking a little sheepish. "600."
"Good grief! What did you forget to put on this morning?"
"Well, I forgot my cap.... and my helmet... and my shoes... and I'm not entirely sure I had my pants on."
I cracked up. "What happened?"
"I just couldn't fall asleep last night, and by the time I did, I had one hour's sleep before having to get up. I just sort of stumbled out the door and stood in formation. I'm hoping I had my boxers on. My friend told me later that he kept trying to stop me and that I was talking to him and responding, but I don't remember a thing. I asked him how bad was I, and all he could do was laugh and say, 'Let's just say you weren't anywhere near regulation.'"
(The thing that keeps this story funny and not sad is that this child has passed many a drug tests -- the thorough kind -- to get into the plants and stuff where we have jobs. Thank goodness he's always walked away from that temptation. He just severed two friendships because they'd started getting into drugs and he knows he couldn't have a career as a firefighter if he even has one thin on his record, so he's put himself out of harm's way. An impressive thing for a 19 year-old to do when there's usually so much peer pressure to do otherwise.)
The Chief made him go lie back down for a couple of hours, and then after that, made him get up and do 350 of the original 600 push ups. Which Jake did, to his credit.
But I'll bet you he'll remember his gear a lot better next time.
Assuming he wakes up.Posted by toni at October 28, 2005 01:55 AM