Sunday, March 23, 2014

Everyday superpowers

Since I've been a firefighter for more than half my life (!), it makes sense that I've picked up a few habits that can be useful outside of work.  Here's a few:

1.  I can get ready really fast.  When I was on a hotshot crew, we had 5 minutes in the morning on fires to get up, get dressed, put our boots on, stuff our sleeping bag and anything else we had taken out of our bags back in, go to the bathroom, and be standing in line ready to go to breakfast.  Of course, you could get up earlier and accomplish some of these tasks, but in those days we all slept under a yellow tarp inches from each other.  Rustling plastic bags and moving around would raise the ire of 19 other people and was frowned upon.  As a result of these early mornings, I can still get ready in 5 minutes.  If you want cute, give me 15.

2.  I never need an alarm.  I just wake up at the right time.  If I'm taking the dreaded 5:15 am flight, I will set an alarm, but I won't need it.  I'll wake up.  Otherwise I never set one.  I know, it's a superpower.

3.  I can sleep anywhere.  In my fire career, I've slept: on a yellow school bus going down the road, on rocks, in bear country by myself with no place to hang my food, in motels where I was scared to shower without flip flops, and in a makeshift tent made of plastic sheeting during a flood watch.  I can't always stay asleep (snorers are the scourge of fire camp and there always seems to be one close by), but I can usually doze off in less than optimal conditions.

4.  I'm not picky about food.  When I first started fighting fire, meals were heavy on beef and pork, both of which I don't eat.  I subsisted on Snickers bars and potato chips (very few vegetables made their appearance back then).  Now there are a lot more choices, but much of fire food is processed, and don't get me started on Meals Ready to Eat.  I will never obsess about gluten, sugar, or anything else, because I couldn't fight fire if I did.  This helps a lot when I travel and eat local food.

5.  I sort of understand men.  I say "sort of" because some of them are just incomprehensible (I'm looking at you, evil ex).  I  can also translate for them.  Often when asked if they want to go on a fire assignment, my female employees will say things like, "Well, if nobody else wants to..."  On one of these occasions I found my male assistant stomping around the office.  "That drives me nuts!" he yelled.  "What does that even mean? Say yes or no!"  I sighed.  "She really doesn't want to go," I said, "but she's afraid to say no because she'll look bad."  "Arrrgh!" he responded.  Because I've worked with mostly men for so long, it's helped me be more straightforward in saying what I mean.

What about you?  Are there any habits you've picked up from work that you use in your real life?

9 comments:

  1. Funny post, but I'm sure oh so true! I don't think I have any particular talents from work, except maybe a lot of patience from years of dealing with the public.

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    1. That's a useful one. I could definitely use more of that.

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  2. Translating from female to male cracked me up! So funny and true. Also, I'd think after an exhausting day fighting fires, the last thing you'd want is a salad. I would reach for the junky good stuff too :) My superpower is never taking no for an answer. I am very persistent (read: annoying). I will always find someone to escalate to. No is never the final answer.

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  3. These superpowers should be very useful.....! Habits from work, hmmm. Being organized transfers really well. After some clashes, learning that different people really do have very different perceptions of the same happening....and thinking about Meyers-Briggs Inventory descriptions! But none as really useful away from work as yours, especially Understanding Men (sort of).

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  4. I can tame children....most of the time. (ex teacher) and I can calm the irate (most times) from years of customer service.

    I'm not sure why I have the 5 minute ability to rise and shine. But it sure comes in handy!!!!

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    1. That is handy! Taming children is also a good one.

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  5. Love this:) I have developed inappropriate/dark humor. It's something that working in social services has made me do. A coping mechanism for sure b/c I hear so much horrible stuff.

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    1. We firefighters have that too, especially when we do a search and rescue that turns into a recovery. It's definitely a coping mechanism.

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