101 Things the Fire Department wishes you knew



Sunday, May 17

Sunday Fun - Dinner Table

I've noticed, over my extensive career (Angry Captain rolls eyes), the dinner table at the firehouse tells a lot about the folks working that day.

For example, I can tell you how long you've been on the job based on where in line you are to get your salad. If you're standing back waving others ahead, you have 1-5 years or 20-30 years. Accepting the wave and grabbing yours first gives away that you have 5-10 years of service and just a hint of smugness. If you push ahead and get yours without using a bowl, stuffing it in your mouth, grabbing bread on the way out, you're a Medic and just caught a job.

As we sit down, I can tell your family status by how you prepare to enjoy your meal. Sitting slowly, carefully buttering your bread and pouring a glass of water, you're divorced. No need to hurry along with food, you've always got time. A quick dash of salt, water with one hand and bread with the other, you've got kids, younger ones who always cause trouble. Talking with another guy while ignoring your plate pegs you as a single. Why eat when you can chat, possibly creating a connection?

And the biggest tell tale at the dinner table? I can go to any firehouse in America and sit down at the table and tell you exactly what unit each person is assigned to as the meal progresses. Don't believe me? Try this on your next shift:

The folks grazing their salad, taking slow bites while telling stories, are on the truck. They take their time since they rarely get interrupted and will talk at length about recent fires, rescues etc.

The folks listening to the stories and finishing their salads are assigned to the engine. They need to get a little food in while they can, but are in no real hurry. After all, they got the salad down and can wait on dinner should they get a run.

The empty plates on the other end of the table belong to the medic van crew, still out on a run. If, by some miracle, they were to get a warm meal, they eat like prisoners, hunched over, arms guarding their plates as if someone is going to take their food away. And, more often than not at Medic 99, the voices who know where the sick people are do indeed steal the food.

So there you have it. Sideshow psychology Firehouse style. For all of you Truckmen rolling your eyes and upset I made such a stereotype, the next time you're at the dinner table and the bells ring, do you even stop chewing?

8 comments:

Little Girl said...

LOL!!!

A warm meal ... what is that?

Oh I think I remember now, its non-packaged junk food that doesn't come from the venting machine and its healthy too; you put it those circle things that are in the cupboard near the coffee machine.

I think that is right!! hmm, its hard to remember now, I've lived on caffeine and sugar for such a long time now .......

Bitter Blonde said...

Nice. We tested this theroy at lunch today. I got accused of being an inmate, and told "No one is going to take that from you." Where was I assigned? If you guessed the bus, you are correct. I think the truck guy took a nap after lunch . . . I made them all read this entry.

Michael Morse said...

Perfect! Describes this place to a T. (What the hell does that mean, anyway?)

Pat said...

For Michael:
http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/to-a-t.html

This seems to be a reasonable explanation of that expression!

Michael Morse said...

Thanks, Pat! Still not so sure but looks like I'm not alone.

The Dispatcher and Her Officer said...

Way to true!!! It's slightly freeky

Anonymous said...

Sigh.....19 Years ago when I worked EMS in OH, we could "almost" sit down to a real, cooked meal. I`m back in the business 19 years later and well, it`s system status here. NO set station to cook a real meal. It`s fast food........ackk.......or eat out of the cooler. We do have stations to post at, but never enough time to sit and actually prepare a meal. I do that on off days and "box" the meal to work. We have microwaves at each station, so not really as bad as I whine.......lol.....Then again, it`s EMS. Gotta have something to whine about.

truck6alpha said...

Very nice. Being a truckie (or at least one who rides around in a chief wagon these days), I can also tell you we have another rule; no less than four ladle-fulls of food you can shovel with a ladle. We have a minimum of 800 pounds of truckie on the truck at all times, so it takes work to keep up our physiques. And being a medic, I remember the shoveling food technique as well. Good work.