I've learned a few things on this fire assignment. Like, for instance, the importance of maintaining composure in the face of The Ultimate Arachnid Violation, or how to best wear side dishes as an accessory. I even had a swift lesson in the effect of slope degree on streams of pee. It's been informative, and in addition to bringing home a decent paycheck, I'd like to think I've also invested in personal growth and development in the areas of humility and avoidance of human contact.
In the interest of stymying ego growth, I've employed tactics that stretch creatively beyond the garden variety fire camp faux pas. No dirty underwear stuck to Nomex Velcro or toilet paper on the boots at briefing. Not even an old toothpaste stain on my shirt. Nope, I've been exploring outside the old standbys.
Today there was a spider on me.
A huge. Brown. Fuzzy. Spider.
It was very difficult for me. Every lesson in self control for my WHOLE LIFE went flashing before my eyes.
No big deal. I just flicked him off of my nomex. Onto my belt. Then under my shirt. And into my pocket.
I didn't panic. I didn't cry. Very much. The very cool, very badass Task Force Leader that I've spent a week with didn't even laugh at me. Very much. I didn't even kill the spider. Or pass out. I tried to disguise the extra-high-pitched tone of my voice and my super sweaty palms. I'm not sure he bought it since he gave me a kind of amused Knowing Look. But I was very brave. Considering.
I will never sleep again.
Which is probably for the best, since three nights ago I was sleeping fitfully in my rig, as always, trying to find a way to accommodate a forever aching shoulder, and something possessed me at about one AM to wake up and unplug my phone where it was charging next to me. I have no idea why, but it seemed necessary at that exact moment.
Apparently it seemed necessary at that exact moment for the semi-truck parked perpendicular to me to fire up his diesel engine and shine his bright headlights into my car as well. In my delirium, all I could think was that in unplugging my phone I had somehow triggered the activation of the truck so I quickly and apologetically plugged my phone back in. It didn't work and the truck kept running. For.Ev.Er. So uncool. I'm just glad the weird communications guy in the tiny green tent that keeps getting closer to my rig wasn't looking in my windows to witness my totally illogical reflex. That I know of.
I can't understand what his attraction to me could be after the other evening when I wore a decent sized bit of tater-tot casserole around on my shirt for hours. I mean, some food is sexy, but tater-tot casserole on your left boob is a stretch. Explain to me How I could not notice a solid ounce of casserole on my chest, but I can still feel the "massive" spider weighing less than a microgram, crawling All. Over. My. Body.
In the hours since the Spider Incident, I have quelled recurrent panic attacks by imaging him a friendly, curious little fellow who wants to be a firefighter. Either he's the same spider I saw crawling up the Safety Officer's leg earlier, or there's an entire army of the bulbous brown monsters in this dust bowl where I sit. For my own sanity I have to believe he is a hardy and determined individual. Only one. I'm totally writing a children's book. Nevermind that the illustrations will give me night terrors.
I'm all about finding new and glorious ways to make sure that 300 burly firefighters know with all certainty what a complete dork I am. It's taken me a minute or two to realize that at some point in the last decade working on fires that I have transitioned from the Cute Girl in fire camp to the Frumpy Mom in fire camp. It's a tough pill to swallow when the blue eyed faller in the Stihl ball cap is actually flirting with the red headed engine boss next to me, and doesn't even know I exist. Curses. Of course it takes a few unacknowledged witty comebacks before I realize that he doesn't hear a thing I'm saying because Pippi Longstalking is redoing her braids. #heartbreak
That's ok. I'm older and wiser now, and most of my self esteem doesn't stem from the opinions of bad ass twenty something hot shots and their comrades. I'm not sure where it stems from, or some days if it stems at all, but I'll concede the fight. I'm just happy to be out here, making a fool of myself and a few bucks.
Author's note: commo guy is actually very nice, and hasn't ever looked in my windows. That I know of. (In case KP ever stumbles across this blog)