Firefighters get bored it’s a fact, when there are no calls for help, no training to be done, no reports to write we find ourselves with time on our hands. So what to do? We invent stuff, good stuff, fun stuff, crazy stuff, just distractions to pass the time. Some are fleeting and run their course, some persist and become a part of our culture. I’m gonna tell you about one that is more than likely specific to the job I worked.
Cloning we called it and I am gonna recommend you all give it a try in your lives it can lead to great laughs. Here is how cloning works, we have all had the experience of knowing someone that reminds us of a famous person. I worked with clones as diverse as Dave Mathews, he works at station 19 and as far as I know has no musical talent whatever. I also worked with the lead singer for the 80’s band Air Supply, Fred is a dead ringer for Russell Hitchcock and once again had no musical talent that I was aware of.
I worked with Tom Selleck, Eric Stoltz, Hugh Grant, The Marlboro Man and many other famous looking firefighters. So when watching TV, or reading the newspaper or some other publication we would stumble across clones. I was cloned as the guy that drives the Cash Cab on the TV show, and then some unflattering comparisons as well, don’t take it personally, it’s just cloning.
As far as I remember cloning was invented at the Big House, station number One downtown. One firefighter there had a gift for cloning, Jimmy was and is to this day the expert at cloning and is frequently consulted to settle cloning disputes that arise. Jimmy’s gift was this, he had the ability to clone common people. Cloning the famous is easy, we see those faces all the time on TV and at the movies.
But that uncommon face that guy on the local news that saved a dog from a frozen pond next to the trailer court, Jimmy could in just seconds run through his mental Rolodex of every firefighter past and present and clone the guy. He would be sitting in a recliner watching the news and seemingly instantaneously call out “Oh hey Tim Casey” and you know what he’d be spot on. You look up and say to yourself wow that is Tim Casey. If Tim Casey was skinny, toothless, dirty and prone to wearing wife beater tee shirts, but it would be uncanny how close he was.
For a long time Jimmy went unchallenged in his cloning skills, he would just find that face and that name and marry them in a way no one else could. That didn’t mean we didn’t try, we tried our asses off to out clone Jimmy. Here’s the thing, we all tried but the only real proof of cloning skill had to demonstrated in the presence of the master. You had to be at One’s working with Jimmy and nail one and if you could clone Jimmy, hang on your legend as a cloning master would grow.
We knew a true cloner from a rookie. See rookies would throw out such horrid clones that to be believed, would have required real science to pull it off. They would be sitting there and say something like “Hey Ed Asner.” You always had to preface a cloning with a “Hey so and so” it’s just the way cloning was done. Well everyone on the job knew who the real cloned Ed Asner was on the job, these rookies would miss, they’d insert the wrong clone. Total foul.
Besides using a celebrity clone was too easy, too common, to be a real master cloner you had to pluck the absolutely obscure facial pattern out of the very ether of life. Cloning grew and changed, and it branched out into the real world, it began popping up on calls. We would run some strange call and the reporting party would be an off duty cloned firefighter.
We’d get back on the truck to talk, because discussing the general public always occurs in the safety and privacy of the truck cab, that’s just how it’s done, and someone would say “I really liked that shirt Tim was wearing on that call” (I use my own name here not because I was chronically cloned, just as a point of reference). Of course the guy was wearing some garish Hawaiian shirt or a Christmas sweeter with reindeer baking cookies or something like that. The cab would erupt with laughter, not just because of the stupid sweeter, but because you could really see that firefighter in that person.
"You think he'd floss a little more too" the source person for the cloning didn’t have to be present, this was done in honor of the victim a remembrance so to speak “and try getting to the dentist every once and awhile” “I thought he had a little more respect for himself then that” and on and on it would go. A good cloning could be relived years later.
Fred the clone for Russell Hitchcock lead singer from Air Supply had the misfortune of having a YouTube video available at a moment’s notice that could be called up for a laugh. But as cloning grew and changed a highbred evolved, the love child of two cloned faces emerged. We now had the capability of mixing and matching genetic combinations.
So when you couldn’t get just the right person, you could and a second. So now we had the love child of Bruce Willis and say Zooey Deschanel, or Brad Pitt and Obama. The beauty of cloning was that two men could have a love child it didn’t have to be a man and a woman.
You will be amazed how ingrained cloning can become in your life, I truly miss it. I’ll find myself in a coffee shop and feel the urge to clone a fellow customer and do, but it is wasted, there is no one to share it with, so I get a random chuckle and a pang.