Friday was my last day as a firefighter at Station 22. After 11 years at the station, the guys and I have become more like family than coworkers. I've been through some of the best times and some of the worst times with these guys and leaving 22's was a pretty tough thing to do.
On the fire department there is a tradition that a person getting promoted, or as we call it "getting made," must buy steaks for everyone at the station. Well, Friday night was my night to buy steaks.
You see, I've been promoted to Lieutenant. Among other things, being promoted means I have to vacate my firefighter assignment in order to move into another station where a lieutenant is needed. On Columbus Fire Department, that will likely be a different station each day until I can bid on a permanent place.
This blog is about my last day at 22's as a firefighter. Part two will come in the next week or so and will be about my first day as a new lieutenant. To celebrate my promotion, several people stopped by the station to wish me well, which meant more steaks. My wife and son, some of my best friends on the department, and my battalion chief to name a few. Fifteen steaks in all and I haven't even gotten my first paycheck.
As anyone who follows my blog will know, firefighters don't simply stop with congratulations. There has to be some sort of razzing and the act of getting promoted doesn't lessen that harassment in any way.The first thing I found was a little announcement on the dry erase board. Here's a picture of what it said:
I feel the "Star Wars" reference needs to be explained. Since this is my blog, I can explain it in any way that I feel will cause me the least embarrassment. Let me preface by telling you that I like to go to movies on their opening night. Maybe it is because I like the atmosphere, maybe because I can't wait, or maybe I am just a sucker for the hype. But whatever the reason, that isn't what's important.
Anyway, several years ago I had some friends who were going to the premiere of one of the new "Star Wars" movies. I was invited and thought it might be fun to go with my friends. But I had a problem--I worked that shift. Trying to be as nonchalant as I could, I asked one of the guys to work for me that night and in return I'd work for him on my next night off. I didn't see it as a big deal.
Boy was I mistaken.
My friend worked my shift as planned. I wasn't there but apparently during the evening news when the reporter did a story about the "Star Wars" fans waiting in line, my friend accidentally let it slip where I was going. (Yes, Mike, I'm talking about you.) So here I am standing in line for "Star Wars" (which I hated btw) while the guys at 22's were rolling on the floor hysterical at the knowledge that I took off work for such an event. They couldn't wait for my next shift.
For many years, my life became Chewbacca noises on the house intercom, jokes about carrying a "light stick" as they liked to call the light-sabers, and dressing up in line (which I absolutely have never done).
In fact, one night we responded to a house where the kids were playing "Star Wars." My genius firefighter buddies thought it would be funny to ask the parents what they thought of a guy taking off work to go stand in line for a "kids" movie. And then, like always, they'd add their line about me dressing up in costumes, which again is not true. Leave it to a firefighter to not let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Back to Friday night. My lieutenant gave a wonderful speech about how great I am. Remember, this is my blog and I can tell it however I please. When he finished, my chief made some equally nice comments and then they presented me with a Star Wars-wrapped gift.
Again with the "Star Wars." Arrgghh.
With everyone watching, I was terrified to open the package, expecting an action figure or a light stick. But it wasn't "Star Wars" memorabilia at all. My gift was a firefighter knife with an engraved blade reading: Lt. Doug Brown. E22. It is awesome.
But the jokes weren't enough for these clowns. My friend and top harasser, John, insisted that he is going to call every station that I go to and make sure the firefighters there are aware of the "Star Wars" incident. Is it too late to resign from the fire department?
On top of everything, a couple of my close friends gave me gifts that I could never thank them for enough.
And finally, there's the cake...
I hesitate in showing you this but decided we're all adults here and my coworkers' time and energy shouldn't go to waste. Thanks to my lovely wife they were able to get a picture of me in my most embarrassing Halloween outfit (yes, honey, they squealed).
So here it is for the world to enjoy--a picture of me at my worst. All this and I didn't even win the costume contest that year.
All joking aside, I'm going to miss the guys at 22's as much as I'd miss an infected in-grown toenail. No, I'm kidding. I'll miss them like cousins who move far away. Well, maybe fourth cousins. Alright, fifth cousins tops.
And there you have it, a snippet of my last day at 22's. My next blog will be about my first day as a new lieutenant. I have no idea how that blog will turn out but hopefully I have good things to say. I'm at L15 on Monday and I'm well-aware that the guys at 15's make the guys at 22's seem like choir boys.
What did I get myself into?
"Star Wars," anyone?