I know part of being a fireman is washing the fire truck when you have down time, but I have to tell you honestly that I don’t really like doing it. The truck is big and it’s got a lot of accessories on it, hoses and knobs and ladders, which makes it hard to wash, but even if it were as slick as a sports car, I still wouldn’t much like doing it. In fact, it’s one of my least favorite parts of my job.
Not that I’m complaining. Half my time at work is spent watching TV and making all sorts of funky meals in the kitchen. One time me and some of the other guys in the overnight shift spent three hours cooking this unbelievably lame meal with all sorts of goofy things in it like garbanzo beans, those little pickled corn cobs, and three kinds of sour kraut. It was awesome and disgusting at the same time, which is quite a trick if you can pull it off. The point is, to be able to waste three hours of my life doing that while getting paid is something very few people can do, so I consider myself fortunate. But I really dread the prospect of having to wash our truck, which we do at least once a week.
Not that I’m trying to absolve myself of my responsibility, but even if I liked washing the truck, it’s reasonable to ask why we do it so frequently. It’s like we have obsessive compulsive disorder. I can tell you without exaggeration that we wash the truck when it’s not all that dirty. In fact, we’re probably damaging the paint finish by using so much detergent on it. And all that polish on the brass! Can that really be good for the finish? I’m just asking.
I know one of the reasons we wash the truck so much is to maintain discipline. The fact is, there’s a lot of down time when you’re a fireman, as you can see from that three-hour meal we cooked up. The goal for us is to stay in fire-fighting form by being busy even when we’re not, so we’re constantly swabbing the deck, so to speak. We all know that when minds and hands are idle, trouble ensues, especially when you’ve got six young men like us rooming together for these 12-hour shifts. So, to keep us out of trouble, we’re to keep our Number 3 engine spotless. I get that.
But it’s worth considering whether we should be given other options. Those who want to wash the friggin’ truck for the fourth time that month are free to do so. But why not give those of us who would rather keep busy doing other things the chance to do other things?
I’ve been suggesting for the past year that we be allowed to build a small greenhouse on the back of the fire station. Think of what a good idea that is. We could grow tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, and all sorts of herbs. And here’s the best part: we can donate everything we grow to one of the city’s shelters! Think of all of the problems we would tackle. It would give us something to do other than wash the effin’ truck while helping to make a dent in a real problem: hunger, plus people not eating enough vegetables. I can see the newspaper article now: “Fire Station Helps Feed the Community When Not Fighting Disasters.”
Isn’t that a better headline than, “Firemen Wash Fire Truck for the Gazzilionth Time This Year”? I think so.
This is a work of satire. It is fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photos (some modified): al (Creative Commons). Not necessarily endorsed use of images.
BEIJING—China this week released its plan to dominate the world by 2020 and also host a summit on the overfishing of red herring in the South Sea. “This is China’s century and we are determined to assert our interests globally in accordance with our stature as the one true superpower,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a news conference here yesterday. China is the world’s largest country by population, with 1.36 million people, not counting ethnic Uighurs, and the world’s second largest economy, with a gross domestic product of $16.1 trillion. That is about $1 trillion less than the United States, although that gap is expected to close within the next 18 months because of America’s declining productivity and “black president,” the plan says. More.
Saying it’s tired of sitting on the sidelines for the majority of compositions in the English language, the letter Q announced today its secession from the English alphabet and a ban on all uses of the letter Q in subsequent English compositions. The letter Q also says it’s reviewing its ties with French, German, Spanish, and other Indo-European languages, but for now, it’s willing to stay in those Latin-based languages until further notice. “For thousands of years the joke has been on the letter Q,” says the letter Q in its Declaration of Secession, delivered simultaneously to the American Library Association, the British Library, the National Library of Canada, the Oxford English Dictionary, the Webster English Dictionary, the Associated Press, and the Chicago Manual of Style. “But no more. As of today, the letter Q is not available for your use.” More.
The English Language Institute removed “utilize” and “cleanse” from the English language today as part of the organization’s long-term plan to trim the language of unnecessary words. The words were recommended for removal by the organization’s Word Removal Committee last month and approved for elimination by the board of directors today. “We grow attached to words, so it’s never easy to say goodbye to them, even when they’re unnecessary,” says Nigel Porter, president of the English Language Institute. “But for the long-term good of our language, today’s actions were necessary and long-overdue.” According to the Institute, “utilize” has long been used as a complex variant of “use,” but it was found to have no meaning beyond “use.” More.
For the longest time I enjoyed going on walks with my master. He would give me a call, “Buster!” and when I came rollicking up, excited about what awaited us outside the walls of our house and outside the confines of our yard, he would attach my leash and off we would go. Sometimes we would go right, which I call the “Annie Poodle Route,” because Annie the Poodle lives down that way, and I always leave my calling card by the corner of her fence (along with a million other dogs!). And sometimes we would go left, which I call the “Fred the Mean Dog Route,” because Fred the Mean Dog lives down there, and you can be sure I don’t leave my calling card by his house! More.
House budget negotiators averted yet another showdown by meeting much of the federal government’s projected fiscal year 2015 spending gap with proceeds from the sale of phone data on U.S. citizens that the National Security Agency has been collecting since 2001 under the USA PATRIOT ACT. “We know NSA’s data collection has been controversial, but at least we were able to solve a very real problem with it, and that’s to get our fiscal house in order without resorting to showdown tactics and last-minute deals,” says House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). More.
Researchers at Oxford University have bestowed upon Canada the dubious distinction of being the most boring of the six countries that comprise what’s known as the Anglosphere: Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United States. “We think it’s important that this matter be settled once and for all,” says lead researcher Nigel Clappe, lecturer in political science and demographics at Oxford University. “Up until this point, people have been identifying the most boring country based on nothing more than their own gut feeling. And that wasn’t helping anybody.” More.
Saying it’s impossible to be mad when you skip, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for leaders around the world to take up skipping, the “hippity-hoppity” gait that comes so naturally to children. “If you remember the last time you skipped, you will no doubt remember feeling frisky and carefree,” Ban said in a statement released today. The U.N. last week passed a referendum declaring the week of Dec. 18-25 World Skipping Week, which the international organization hopes will inspire people everywhere to skip rather than fight. More.