Wednesday, June 23, 2010

super instructors

My brother Paul (who, by the way is a knife maker) made an interesting comment about BP agreeing to pay 20 billion dollars in compensation to the folks affected by the oil spill. He wasn't disagreeing with the necessity of the payout. He was astounded that a company could produce 20 billion dollars without a hiccup. These folks aren't the US government that can just print up extra cash when they need it. They've apparently got (or plan to have) 20 billion dollars tucked away in a rainy day fund. Kind of like I keep a piggy bank for spare change. That's rich beyond belief. Not to mention disaster beyond belief in the Gulf, but if I start on that one I'll get bearish and growly again.

So I'll talk a little about my friends instead. It's amazing how you think you know someone, only to find out that what you know is only the tip of their personality iceberg. I've taught courses with Frank and Graham for a lot of years, but I learned something new about them this weekend.

Most fire service instructors are only half human. The other half is a convoluted technogeekish, pyromaniacal psychopath that only appears when they approach a group of unsuspecting firefighter students. Give a fire instructor a tiger torch and you get instant transformation from a Clark Kentishly meek and mild personality, to a flame throwing super alien ready to educate with fire. But I knew that about these guys. I'm like that myself.

By some fluke of fate, I am teaching water rescue with Graham and Frank this weekend, and I discovered that they aren't your ordinary half and half pyro instructors. They're one third human, one third psychopath, and one third fish. Throw bags and wet suits and ropes and carabiners aren't just a well-studied topic. They lived this stuff. The fire service was just a diversion of sorts for something different. It seems unfair that so much talent and experience and knowledge can be tied up in two individuals, but who said life is fair. I have a lot of catching up to do if I want to teach alongside these guys in the water. And by catch up, I mean trying to overtake a bullet train with a bicycle. But there's no time like the present.

I guess I'd better stop writing and start studying. I am teaching water rescue alongside a shark and a killer whale tomorrow . . .

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