"SO. What kind of work do you do?"
At this point, unless I was last in the round robin, had the other people really wanted to discuss their careers, they were pretty much out of luck, because as soon as I, cringing, said, "I'm a firefighter...." that was pretty much it. Apparently, "I'm a tax attorney," doesn't quite have the same ring to it (sorry, Madeleine). People were fascinated, especially the Europeans. They peppered me with questions. If I unwittingly added in the helicopter angle, that only added fuel to the fire (heh heh, see that, fuel to to the fire?). A female firefighter was a novelty to them, especially one that flew around in helicopters and did search and rescue.
I thought I had the Americans in the bag and they would soon move on, because there is so much media coverage of firefighting these days they would be more blasé to it. Instead, BECAUSE they heard so much about it, they had a lot of opinions and wanted to discuss them. I suppose I could merely vaguely said I worked for the government, a tactic similar to the advice I got as an international backpacker in the late '80s - "say you're from Canada instead of America, everyone likes Canadians"- but let's face it, working for the government is not very popular these days and might generate even more chatter.
I attempted to deflect towards Hazel, who rescues cute injured koala bears and wallabies, but to no avail. And to be honest, it felt kind of good to talk about my job to people who were interested, not angry because of government policy made well above my level, which happens often back home.
Truthfully, most people on that voyage made a salary well above mine; some people were extremely wealthy. Sometimes I wish I had made another choice in life, one where I didn't risk my life so often, one where people's bodies don't get broken by manual labor, where you have a little more security. But these people respected my choices. They thought what I did was brave and unusual and a little bit scary. Some days it is all these things and many other days it is not at all. But they let me see through their eyes, briefly, and it made me proud.
|Another penguin. Just because they're cute.|