Dangers, Toils, and Snares: Confessions of a Firefighter, my new book will be free on Amazon in celebration of Saint Patrick's day.
I had started drinking once again. It was a Friday night and I had gone to a sports bar just a few blocks from my house, a safe drive if I got bombed again.
I was lonely and told myself, as all real alcoholics do, that I’d just get something to eat have a couple of drinks and see what was shaking on a Friday night.
The little bar was run by friends, of course when you drink like me every bartender is a friend after the first couple of drinks. I’m very outgoing and make friends easily wherever I go. I sat at the bar ordered a double and a beer and perused the crowd.
A pretty little blond was sitting a few stools down and it didn’t take long before we were friends. I liked her she could keep up. We talked drank and began playing pool and soon it was closing time. I managed to one-eye it on the short drive home and passed out very quickly once home.
The alarm sounded and as I snoozed it, I briefly thought, man you should call in sick today. I knew I was still under the influence; no way could my body process that much booze in the few hours since my last drink.
Here is one of the strange quirks of firefighters; we don’t use our sick leave. I believe it’s a combination of things, one being responsible to the job and our crew, two there is always a chance we will have a slow shift and being sick won’t really be noticed, and third, it’s just too much damn fun going to work.
I didn’t want call off sick that day for two reasons. First calling in sick on a Saturday morning can lead to questions and a request for a doctor’s note, when you are Tim Casey well known drunk, and second I thought I could pull it off. I’d done it many times before. Just get to work and lay low for the morning, avoid the guys, pretend to be busy and isolate.
My crew left me alone on days like this. They probably knew I was hung over and knew I’d pull through it by afternoon. I had never let them down in that way, the being there when the horn went off way. I’m sure I had let them down in many other ways, but not that one.
So I went. I got to the station on time and began my morning routine when my Lou called me.
“Hey Timo I need to ship you to 8’s for the morning, 8’s is out at the airport on some big exercise and 5’s is covering and they need a medic down there, so…”
Freddy looked me over, “You be alright with that? You good?”
“Yeah Fred I’ll be cool. I’ll get my stuff and head down there.”
8’s was my first house years ago and was a real shithole, but not this 8’s, this was new and improved 8’s, a brand new station and a real temple to firefighting and firefighters. It was also the base station for a newly promoted chief.
I got to 8’s, put my stuff on the truck and got reacquainted with some guys I hadn’t worked with in years. I was very nervous; I knew I reeked of liquor I had to. I tried to talk softly as not to propel my breath too far into the atmosphere.
Things were alright and I scrounged the fridges to find some sort of morning sponge I could throw in my gut to soak up the left over booze. I managed to eat and drink some coffee and was thinking I could get away with this one, when I walked past the brand new office of the new chief.
“Hey TimO, give me a hand here.” He waved me into the tiny office; he was rearranging the furniture and need some help. I was screwed right then. Chief Tommy was a clean liver, a huge man, a good Christian, proud father and husband.
I went in to help, and as we moved furniture around he stopped, looked dead at me and asked it.
“You out drinking last night TimO?”
“Yeah chief I had a few last night. Why?” He shook his head.
“Cause you smell of liquor, bad.”
“Sorry chief, I’ll go brush my teeth and clean up a bit.”
I nearly ran from his office and to the locker room. I was shaking and terrified. Why didn’t you call off sick was all I could think. I gulped toothpaste and slopped in some more eye drops. That’s when the intercom popped and I heard the chief’s voice. “TimO come to the chief’s office.”
I stuck my head in his door. “Yeah Chief.”
“Come in Tim, shut the door.”
My heart raced.
“I need you to take your gear off the truck Tim and chief Roger is on his way to come pick you up. I’m gonna have you tested for alcohol Tim.”
TimO was gone, it was Tim now, he was the boss and I was an employee, a troubled employee.
“You should see if you can get a union rep on this as soon as possible Tim. I’m sorry man.” His face said it all, he didn’t enjoy this, he didn’t want this, and I think he truly wished it was some other chief I had landed on.
“Not chief Roger, please Tommy. Can’t you do this?”
“I can’t and Jim (My real chief) is stuck at the airport with 8’s, it has to be Chief Roger. Go get your stuff, I’ll have the boys take care of your stuff, we’ll get your car home.”
I left his office panicked and in some way a little relieved to be caught. I wasn’t going to stop, not without help.
Chief Roger was an old friend we had been in the recruit academy together and even been roommates briefly following our coinciding divorces. He was also the guy that had stabbed me in the back during my divorce and sided with my second wife in having me removed from my station to promote harmony.
We had never had a conversation since he had removed from that station, even though he was my direct supervisor. I was sure he was going to enjoy getting another chance to shine his boots on my corpse.
More tomorrow about my ride of shame trapped in a car with man.