From Hell to Fire
From Hell to Fire
I showed up that day as I did any other day. Uniform neatly pressed, jig line straight, hair slicked back into a perfect ponytail. American eagle boots professionally polished. Reserve Firefighter extraordinaire at your service! As I finished my equipment check, and begin to help the on-duty engineer mop the engine room floors, "Hey kid, did you get your letter yet?" "What letter?" "Most of the guys have gotten their interview results from the city. Was just wondering if you heard anything yet?" "No, not yet." I'm glad he said something. Had no idea we were getting our results so soon. Of course, not soon enough for me. My situation was completely different from most reserve firefighters. I had no car, which meant I had to catch the bus everywhere, which included: to my full-time job as a security guard, to the gym to work-out after work, and to the fire department to volunteer as a reserve firefighter on my days off work. Not to mention, I was still living with my mother and two brothers in her two-bedroom, one bathroom apartment. Between us, we didn't have a pot to piss in.
Most reserve firefighters, even if they did still live at home, came for money. Not to imply that they or their parents were rich, but they had more than life's necessities. Most of their parents had big beautiful homes, in nicely manicured communities. Me, I was born and raised in Compton. One of the most gang and drug infested cities on earth. Hopefully, things were about to change for the better.
When we were done mopping, I went over to the fire prevention bureau, the hazmat department. "Loretta, Loretta, where are you?" She was at her desk, on the phone. As I excitedly walked over to her desk, she told the person on the phone, "I'll call you back." She hung up the phone and asked me, "Have you heard anything?" "No, I haven't gotten anything yet." "Be patient, you will." "Can't believe they're moving this fast." "Well, that's what happens when you procrastinate as long as they have. A bunch of pure mess ups! Well, they're getting it together now. At least that's what everyone says." Just then we heard someone calling her from the front office. "Officer Loretta, Officer Loretta." As she looked at me, "Don't move. Look up front and tell me who it is." "I don't know, some Indian dude." "This moron again. Hold on; I got a favor to ask." She said as she walked to the front office. I was very excited. If everyone was receiving their letters, it was only a matter of time before I got mine.
"Officer Chandler, pick up line one. Officer Chandler pick up line one." She came back to her desk and picked up the phone. "Compton fire department, Officer Chandler speaking. Oh, hi Chief, sure, I'll be right there." As she looked at me, "You have a seat, don't move." "What if we get a run?" "Then let them know that I told you to stay put." "Ok." One of our office administrators walked in. "Hi Allison. Get your letter yet?" "No, not yet." "You'll get it soon. I don't know why you haven't gotten it by now. You live right here in the city so you will get it soon. It might be in your mailbox now." Oh my goodness. I hadn't thought about that. She's probably right. It could be sitting in the mailbox. Oh no, now I'm really excited! "Yeah, you're right. I'll check as soon as I get home." Loretta came back in to the office. "Get your gear off the engine and let's roll." She said. "Cool, where are we going?" I asked. "I'll explain it to you on the way." I hurried to the engine room to get my gear. As I was taking my gear off the engine, I noticed the other on duty reserve watching me. "Where are you going?" "Don't know yet." "When are you coming back?" "Don't know that either." "Well, have fun." "We usually do." As I was heading to the parking lot, I could hear the engineer, "Reserve, get your gear off the squad and put it on the