Monday, April 28, 2008

fire hosers

I was just walking back to work and I noticed a crew of groundskeepers were cleaning an artificial stream bed here at the campus where I work with a big firehose-type hose that stretched across the sidewalk. As I walked over it, I remembered a time in my youth that served as one of the first experiences towards my learning that the world of adults is unfair and "ornery"

I had just turned 16 and had passed all my driving tests, written and road, with flying colors. I only drove around town for the first few months because I wanted to become a better driver without facing some of the scary things you find out there that weren't covered in Drivers Ed. So about two months after receiving my license, my friends and I were driving to a local tennis court to play our daily 6 hours of tennis (it was summertime). We had been there every day for weeks now. It was located near a fire department and some city offices. I luckily had my own car (a '67 Camaro given to me by my parents which they didn't drive anymore). It was 1988 so it was still in pretty good condition.

Anyway, as I'm driving along this busy road, I get to the point of which I'm supposed to left-turn into the tennis court parking lot. On this day, however, I noticed there was a firehose (unpressurized) stretched across the entrance. There was no fire and firemen were just standing around. Cars behind me began to honk as there was no room to pass until I moved. I made the decision that the hose wouldn't be there if they didn't expect people to drive over it so over it I went.

Next thing I know, a barrage of angry, seemingly drunk fireman came dashing towards me and I almost peed my pants. The spokesman cursed at me and told me that he wanted my name and address etc. They would pressure-test the hose and if it failed than I would be responsible to pay for a new one. I assume those things cost quite a bit especially for an unemployed 16 year old living in a world where minimum wage was $3.35/hr.

Luckily, weeks later, I received a letter stating that there had been no damage to the hose.

That experience was basically forgotten until today when I realized that if something like that happened to MY son in a similar fashion, I would be outraged.

First of all, there were no cones or any other reason to suspect that the entrance to the parking lot was "closed". There was no fire. The firemen were simply doing a drill, or who knows why that thing was there? Second, I was simply too young and too inexperienced to know you can't run over a firehose. You can run over a garden hose. You can run over a lot of hoses. What the hell did I know at 16? Nothing had been mentioned in Drivers Ed. Is this common sense? I did know that staying in the road, standing still IS against the law.

There was no reason for these guys to get so huffy at me. It was their fault for not putting some cones up.

Now I realize that if their letter had been a bill for the hose, I would have seen their butts in court because what I did was not unreasonable given the situation and any rational driver would have done the same thing given my level of experience.

They treated me like a punk teenager when in reality I was an honor student and Eagle Scout with no blemishes anywhere. After the experience I learned that a lot of adults were jerks and I could not trust a one of them.

I can see why a lot of kids might turn to gangs or rebel in some way given the "jerky" nature of some adults.

Sometimes it might seem that you have to tell a kid, in detail, what you expect of them. This is because they don't have enough life experience to read between the lines if instructions are too vague.

I appreciate those firemen for putting their life on the line to save others lives and property but they lost a lot of respect from me that day.

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