"Y'all better be alert! Best pay attention over here!"
The members of Engine 15 and a truck company were standing around the scene of a gas leak; we had just shut the supply off when our attention was drawn to the shirtless man quickly walking up to us.
"You know why? You know why? Because I'm about to go smoke this rock right here."
He thrust his clenched left hand proudly in the air, pumping his fist like he had just won the lottery.
"…and if I smoke too much, and I need y'all… Imm'a call you on my phone right here."
In mirror image, he reached deep into his pocket and switched his dramatic pose; now wildly brandishing a cell phone with his right arm, he stared and waited for some reaction.
Indifferent to the man's statements (and probably growing bored), one of the guys from the truck company turned to our newfound friend and extended a pudgy finger in my direction.
"Well, I'll tell you what. The man you need to talk to… is right there."
("Probationary Manual, Chapter Eight: Talking to Excited Crack Heads for the Laughter and Enjoyment of Older Firefighters.")
Mr. Rock Addict began sauntering over to me, when he stopped short. His eyes looked me up and down for only a second, but it was enough to make him spin in place and hightail it back the way he came.
"Naw, f*** that guy. He a rookie… I ain't talkin' to no rookie."
Great. Even the southeast crackheads know I'm the new guy. (Damned red tag…)
This, of course, is nothing new for the area. Highly entertaining stuff has been happening down here for years. A few tours back, another firefighter and I went looking through the archived logbooks for Engine 15 and Rescue 3, and we were browsing through a book from 1987. They ran a hell of a lot more fires than the department does today… some of the logbook pages were just unreal. A big house fire in the morning, followed by a nasty car wreck, then another working fire, then seeing smoke showing from an apartment and filling out the box on the way back from the previous fire! I suppose the only comfort that today's crews can take is that they ran a whole bunch of medical local calls back then, too; I've included a few of the more interesting excerpts I found.
Medical Local, 1635 hrs / E-15 stood by for medic unit with 1 male who broke his shoot-up needle in his neck, E-15 performed miscellaneous acts.
Medical Local, 2306 hrs / RS-3 obtained a signed release for who knows?
Medical Local, 1258 hrs / E-15 for a man wanting to go to the hospital to get away from the little green people!!!
Seeing as we had access to the entire collection, I had to read about what this house did on my birthday (not that I was anywhere near Anacostia, much less the east coast in general.) So, digging up the proper book, I found:
We were even able to go all the way back to 1948. Seeing the old script, and the ink bleeding through the fragile pages was like staring back through decades of history. Call it cliche, but there's something slightly poetic and awe-inspiring about having access to a written account of everything that occurred in this firehouse since the Cleveland Indians last won the World Series (yes, that was 1948. They're really just awful.)
Every call, every announcement, every single thing that happened on that shift, was recorded on paper in the once-prized scrawl of proper penmanship that has fallen into nonexistence today.
(It made me wonder about the oldest book in the Department; where is it kept, and whose logbook is it? I'd imagine it's up above Engine 3.)
Either way, the books haven't changed much. It did, however, serve as a fascinating way to pass the time at the watch desk until the modern-day E-15 had to go run our own medical locals… little green men and all.