Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fireman vs. Firefighter.


Okay I call this blog “I never wanted to be a FireMAN” for a reason. First it pisses off some people if you use the politically incorrect term fireman. Second it makes some people laugh and third because I’m a fireman (retired).

Quién realmente da una mierda. That’s Spanish for who really gives a shit. The name doesn’t change the job, the person changes the job. The decision to use the term fireman does have real world implications above and beyond causing blood to leak from the delicate eyes of the politically correct.

It messes with your search results on the internet. People don’t search for that word anymore, and if they do, it is coupled with “wooden stake through the heart of an old out dated sexiest word that should be found in the grave yard with words like policeman, mailman, milkman, and congressman.” Wait they still use congressman, strange.

Anyway, people only or mostly search for firefighter, so my stuff gets missed, I lose readers and with only a handful of readers (thank you all) my very important words aren’t disseminated to the world, shame about that.

Do you care what your rescuer is called or do you care to be rescued? Now I’m trying to start a fight over words, I love words. But changing a word; man to fighter changes nothing but letters. The question is who is doing the job?

The first woman hired by my job was in 1984 and I was in the recruit academy with Ann. Ann was and still is, a great woman. She blazed a trail into the unknown and any woman working on the job that doesn’t know Ann or her history on the job is losing out.

She was young, strong, fit, attractive (unfortunate), and sorry Ann, a bit naïve. I always wished Ann had worked as cocktail waitressing or been to a strip club, some manly place where men acted more base. A place where under the influence of liquor men reveled their true selves. See I believe if Ann had had that kind of exposure to men being assholes, she would have been better prepared for the reception she got.

Keep in mind the time 1984, NYC transit fare rises from 75 cents to 90 cents, ATT had just broken up, Denver Nuggets 163, San Antonio Spurs 155-highest-scoring NBA game, Supreme Court (5-4): city may use public money for Nativity scene, Madonna's "Like a Virgin," single goes #1 for 6 weeks, Hepatitis virus is discovered, body of assassinated Indian PM Indira Gandhi cremated, Joan Benoit (US) wins 1st Olympic marathon for women (2:24:52), "Miami Vice" premieres, and Geraldine A Ferraro, (Rep-D-NY), wins Democratic VP nomination.

My department had 12 stations, none designed for two sexes, and we had our first woman on the job. Needless to say some were not very happy at the prospect. The job was no place for a woman. As I remember there were three kinds of reactions, one was run her off save our way of life and if it happens again we’ll run that one off too. Then there were the realists, they didn’t necessarily embrace their new co-worker, but tried to remain neutral as best they could. The administration had a slightly different take, get used to it this is how it is and how it’s gonna be.

Me I had been through the recruit academy with her, I had given her my fair share of abuse but I abused everyone equally. So to me no big deal. It never was a big deal to me, my reaction to new firefighters was can you do the job? Can I put my life in your hands and will you be there when it turns to shit?

I worked with all kinds and I’m sure you can find as many opinions on me as I can give you about them. Some people I just couldn’t stand in anyway other than the fire ground and I’m sure the same holds true for me. It is just work after all, who gets along with every co-worker and is good at their job? Nobody.

So you learned to deal, how to adjust, as long as when you jumped on the BRT you knew you could count on that other firefighter. Ann was a hard worker as far as I knew I never worked shifts with her but never heard any horror stories about her not doing her job. I did horror stories about other firefighters doing poorly.

The job won, they managed to wear her down until leaving was her best option. I begged her to stay and fight or at least sue the bastards and make it hurt. She refused and went on to other greatness. It got easier and easier on the women that followed, not the job, but the attitudes on the job shifted.

I left with respect for almost all my co-workers, almost all.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

LOL! For 25 years I never regretted my decision to leave that job, at least in my waking hours.
But,I still dream, at night, about that career and what could have been.
In the 1980s, a very low percentage of women who were the first female firefighters in their respective cities, actually stayed and made a career out of it. Most left after 1-3 years. I networked with an International group called Women in Fire Suppression back then, and the stories had a common thread-- daily harassment , or worse being outcast. I once worked a 24hr shift where everyone of the men agreed to not speak to me. A-holes.
We may have been ahead of our time; I hear it is so much better for women now.

November Rain - k~ said...

There seems to be a need for trailblazers in all aspects of life. The first one to do anything, wears a bit of the dirt on their cheeks.

November Rain - k~ said...

That font is REALLY hard to read ;-)

Fireman said...

Thanks Ann for the response, and for the rest of you help me talk Ann into guest blogging here and sharing her stories the ones I don't know.

Fireman said...

I hope Ann will share some of her stories here with us, she is thinking about it.

Fireman said...

You are right as rain I'll change it back, just playing with stuff.

Fireman said...

Is this better Rain?

November Rain - k~ said...

Much better, thank you :-)