TREENA MIELKE / On The Other Side
Every year when Fire Prevention Week comes up, I get to chat with an assortment of everyday heroes who make up the fire departments everywhere.
I have always felt a great deal of respect for these volunteers who go above and beyond the call of duty without a lot of fanfare or attention — simply because they want to.
I get to visit the departments and take pictures of these guys and gals. They are great. Always happy to oblige. Always ready to pull their truck out for a perfect background.
I try to gather them into some semblance of order, and, usually amid lots of good natured teasing and jostling and joking, it works.
Snap! Snap! Snap! I grab a few pictures and we are done.
I always drive away with a good feeling thinking that it is good small town Alberta has such people living in its midst.
Many, many years ago, I had an up close and personal encounter with the fire department from the town in which I lived. And it wasn’t just from behind a camera.
It was, one of those almost coulda been, but didn’t quite happen fires caused by none other than me, myself and I and my own carelessness.
It was kind of a firecracker fall day, with red and yellow leaves playing tag with each other in reckless abandon.
My kids were all young and little enough to crowd into the backseat of the car with me, the mom, in control in the front. Well, actually I probably never was in control, only had that illusion, but it was comforting to me to think I was the boss.
The kids all had eye appointments in the city and, I for once, was determined to get them all there on time.
In those days I struggled intensely with time management skills. Actually, come to think of it, that hasn’t changed.
Well, on that particular day, that firecracker gold and red day, I thought I had my time management skills up to an A level.
Before I left I gathered all my children up and set on my way, but not before I had put a roast in my fancy new oven. I set it on timed bake and closed the door proud and confident that I had become the efficient housewife that I had.
Needless to say I was a more than a little shocked when I pulled up in front of my house several hours later and a fire truck was sitting in my drive way and my stove was sitting on the front lawn.
It seemed I had not, in fact, put my oven on “timed bake” but ‘self-clean’ with the roast in it and some well-intended passerby, seeing the smoke pouring out of the windows, had phoned it in as a house fire.
I was mortified, and not the least of my mortification was because of all the dirt that the firemen had found behind my stove when they removed it from kitchen. With all the dignity I could muster, I quickly found a broom and swept up the offending evidence that I did not clean corners or under stoves, regularly, if at all.
The firemen, with some pity in their eyes, but mostly ill-concealed humor, said my stove had malfunctioned, but I knew in my heart the real story.
I had tried to self-clean a roast, for goodness sake.
The story eventually got out the way stories do, and people joked and laughed about it for years.
It was funny. I guess. If you weren’t me, a first class time management failure and dismal planner of meals.
We ate out that night. The kids were happy and my husband was happy, mostly because I had only burned the roast, not the entire house.
I smile at the memory. We put the stove back but the oven never did work properly after that so I never had to try the timed bake thing again.
Not that I wanted to.