Everybody loves firemen. That’s what they say, anyway. I see the bumper stickers all the time. I’m not really sure I believe it, though. Or, at least I think there’s a certain time when some people don’t love firemen. It’s when the firemen are in their truck with the sirens on going to a fire. Lots of people don’t like to pull over anymore.
I’m driving down one of our main roads here in Knoxville the other day, yes, actually our main, main road, which any Knoxvillian would tell you is Kingston Pike, and coming from the opposite direction I hear the siren and see the fire truck. So, I do what I always have done, start to pull over. I always have this idea that fire trucks with their sirens on could be going someplace they need to get to fast, like a fire.
Now, the fire truck is fairly close at this point, it’s not a couple blocks away, it’s bearing down in front of us. Behind me, I notice a vehicle actually trying to get around me. I know people don’t pull over for fire trucks anymore. But, the vehicle behind me is actually angling to get around. Then I notice that it’s my vehicular nemesis, a soccer mom with a cell phone in a mini-van.
Hey, I know getting little Trevor to soccer practice is important, or if little Nichole is late to her dance lesson there will be hell to pay. I understand you’re doing the most important thing in the world, suburban soccer-mom shit, and you will not be denied. But it could be someone’s house burning down.
I’ll tell you, I’d rather be in a jail cell with Hannibal Lecter than see a soccer mom with a cell phone in a mini-van. I’ve nearly been run over, run into, pulled over on, I’ve waited through lights just to find out I’m behind a soccer mom not paying attention talking on the phone. Always with that damn cell phone pasted to their face. And they are mean.
This particular one must have been the Dick Cheney of soccer moms. People are slowing down or stopping in the left lane, I’m blocking her path to acceleration in the right lane. When she realized she couldn’t get around me because of cars in the other lane, she turned her hateful gaze my way. We locked eyes in the mirror, at which point I put up my hands and mouthed “Hey, it’s a FIRE TRUCK.” I wish I would have just avoided the confrontation. She, looking back at me, holding that cell phone tightly to her face, never broke a word in her conversation, never missed a beat, but I saw her eyes squint manically behind her gold-rimmed amber-lensed suburban mom frames, and sneer at me in such a way that gave me a chill of fear down my spine. If I’d have seen that door open, I’d have bolted like a frightened antelope in the Serengeti, because I know I’d be no match for her in a bitchy slap-fight.
So, how many oatmeal-raisin recipes can you swap before you run out of things to say? How much can you talk about little Caleb’s problems in first grade (that are the teachers fault) before there’s nothing left to say? How big of a hurry do you have to be in to not pull over the suburban “Millennium Falcon” when you hear a siren?
Well, we just don’t pull over for fire trucks anymore. Soccer moms may be the worst offenders, but they’re certainly not the only ones. It seems no one wants to stop. Sure, I know we are all busy with our first world problems. I guess it’s only an emergency if it’s you.
You don’t really heart firemen after all, do you?