Tuesday, November 17, 2009

nerves and endurance

The evil ambulance dudes (who have their hideout right across the road from the fire hall) played with my nerves today under the innocent masquerade of diligently ensuring their equipment was maintained.

They know that we firefighters haven't had a call in six weeks. They know that we respond to many of the same calls that they do. They know that we suffer from adrenalin withdrawal during long periods of inactivity. And they know that in our over-devoted, under-utilized state, we firefighters will be a bag of jitters vibrating to the edge of our seats every time the ambulance rolls to any call, because we know we might get paged a few minutes later.

So what do they do? They hire a technician to "fix" their siren. Not that it was broken. It couldn't have been. It went off at least five times, in all of its multitudinous and irritating sequences.

Here's how I figure the conversation went:

Siren Tech: Well, Mr. Ambulance dude, I think your siren is fine.
Evil Ambulance Dude: Great, but hadn't you better test it? I mean, just to be sure . . . [snicker, snicker]
Siren Tech: Yes, of course.

Wail, screech, yelp, HF, T3, chatter-chatter

Meanwhile, across the road at the fire hall . . .
Over-devoted, Under-utilized Fire Chief: (thinks to himself because there is no one to talk to) The ambulance must be headed out on a call. I'd better lay aside my boring paperwork and prepare myself for the rescue of the century. [siren stops]. Aw man, it was just a test.

Back at the ambulance base . . .
Evil Ambulance Dude: I think I detected a slight hesitation. You'd better recheck that wiring.
Siren Tech: Yes, of course.

Half an hour later . . .

Siren Tech: Well, Mr. Ambulance dude, your siren is still fine.
Evil Ambulance Dude: Great, but hadn't you better test it again? I mean, just to be sure . . . something might have come loose when you checked that wiring . . .[snicker, snicker]
Siren Tech: Yes, of course.

Wail, screech, yelp, HF, T3, chatter-chatter

You get the idea (click here if you don't). After the fifth time I'm ready to pay a friendly visit across the road with a pair of wire cutters and a hooligan bar. The ultimate solution for ISS (Irritating Siren Syndrome) and the instigators behind the ruckus.
(Lest you think Upsala is like other places where friction exists between the fire and ambulance services, rest assured we are not. In reality, we get along fine with the ambulance dudes across the road 99.9% of the time, but I have to write about something.)
On a different topic, I have good news for all of my friends that enjoy a drink now and then. New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust is going to drill for a cache of vintage whiskey that was abandoned 100 years ago by Sir Ernest Shackleton. (If you aren't familiar with this guy, at least check out the section about the loss of the ship Endurance, and Shackleton's subsequent voyage in a tiny lifeboat across the stormy Antarctic seas to get help.)
Speaking of whiskey, you can read about my dysfunctional relationship with alcohol in my May 23 post.

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