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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Daylight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

A few years ago I met some good southern "boys" at training for my last position. They were from Georgia and we became good friends during the month our company made us spend in Arizona. Both were from the Atlanta area and recommended to the group of us that hung out together to watch "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" if we ever got a chance, as it has great scenes of Savannah. Well, several times it came on TV but it really didn't interest me, so I never took the time to watch it.

But tonight, my brain fried from a weekend of theology, and my channels limited by my recent cable downgrade to local-only, well, it was the only thing on. So I watched it. And you know what? I enjoyed the movie, and even saw the signature scene.

And thought of a few things to bring up with my Spiritual Director if I have one. (Must call him...I think the one I met with in November is it. Must get time to do this...). But I digress.

This is a movie set in Savannah, about a man who kills his gay lover. So the subject matter itself is actually not appropriate for children, so don't let them watch it. It also has occult content and truly shoddy crime scene investigation, which, I was happy to note, was not accidental but part of the story. And although I avoided this movie for a very long time, I have ALWAYS just LOVED the title.

As you note from the title of this post, however, I have somewhat modified the title, because I have my own dilemma of good and evil to discuss. And because I know Cathy and Terry love my stories, and because Adoro's brain is fried, well, it's story night. So sit back to read an Adoro Classic:

Daylight on the Training Ground of Good (me!) and Evil (the Captain!)

Several years ago, as you know, I was training for the Fire Department. And in fact, I'd been hired and had made it through several months of academic training. (And got PAID for this!). The last six weeks were at "the Tower" and this was the most unkindest cut of all. Because by then we were all flabby messes in comparison to how we'd been when we'd taken the test one year prior.

We were in good shape, but the brutality of the tower made everyone, almost, feel like we hadn't worked out in years. Much like I feel now when I go to the gym.

When I'd received the name of my Training Captain, I just cringed. At the time, my boyfriend of two years was a firefighter for the same department, and in fact, was the one who encouraged me to take the test. And when he'd told me who the captains would be, he gave me the scoop on all of them. And sure enough, I was sentenced to Captain B., known to his own peers and underlings as a Pompous * ahem *. Although my boyfriend used different words to describe him.

But it was what it was so I hoped to do well and fly under the radar. We got through the first week, pretty much so far so good...except that, on Friday, we had our first physical test. Completely solo, we had to pull the hoseline through a darkened building, using proper technique, open the window, point the nozzle out the window and "show water", in all streams, from a "fog" to a "straight stream." This latter can be would NOT believe the force of the water without experiencing it yourself.

Suffice to say that I am a short-statured woman and the force of the water weighed far more than I did, meaning that technique needed to supplement my own weight.

The beginning of the test went fine. I had to roll the hoseline in and was happy to be able to do this even somewhat properly, although my captain was already yelling at me to hurry up. I felt along the wall following the hoseline I'd hauled, looking for the window. Finally I found it and opened the latch.

The smooth cement floor beneath me was already wet from the previous two students, and for that test, we weren't in full turnout gear. Just our coats, SCBA, helmets, and gloves. The water was soaking my pantlegs, and as I stood to position myself to open the line, I realized that my shoes were not ideal on this wet surface.

For a moment I considered dropping to one knee, but, having opened the line in a standing position prior to this, I felt comfortable with the concept and the student before me had done the same thing. I was very much of the mindset, "If HE can do it, I can do it!"

Well, the guy before me apparently had either better tread or a drier floor beneath his feet.

Just as I aimed the nozzle and leaned into it in anticipation, simultaneously I opened the line to a straight stream (the most forceful stream of water - a fully opened line) as directed by the rear foot slipped.

I felt it going and tried to go with it in order to remain upright, and in the process, the force of the water caused me to jerk the hoseline upward. That force of the water turned me to my right and I opened the heaviest stream directly into the center of my Captain's chest!

He screamed a blue streak while I fought with all my might to get the hoseline back under control. He was screaming at me to shut it off (I was trying!), and I finally did so, although I'm not sure how. beyond the mechanical motions required in the task.

As soon as the water was off, silence reigned in that darkened training building.

I stared into the opaquely shadowed corner near the exit door, deafened by the baleful silence emanating towards me, just waiting...

Finally the Captain spoke, half-growl, half-yell: "Point that nozzle out the window and give me a straight stream NOW!"

I did as directed, and this time my feet did not betray me. The power of the water flowed perfectly as I willed, and I had no problem holding my position, advancing a few steps towards the window. He told me to reduce the stream to a "fog", and then to shut it off. I did as directed and set the line down when finished with the drill.

I had to approach him on the way out. I could hear him breathing like an angry bear.

My Captain was drenched and still fuming. He was so angry he was literally and visibly shaking.

"Did I fail?" I queried meekly, having to break that terrible, terrible silence. And I really did need to know if I should run quickly away!

I was certain I'd failed; I was quite sure that nailing one's Captain square in the chest with a straight stream was grounds for dismissal.

The Captain from Hell spoke through obviously clenched teeth. "Were you eventually successful at opening the stream out the window?"


"Then. you. passed."

It was very clear to me that those words were very painful for him to utter. That man did NOT want me to pass. It was the beginning of a vendetta, and he never got over it.

Really. Remember my rappeling story?

That afternoon I called by boyfriend and he asked how the first test had gone. I told him that I hit my Captain in the chest with a straight stream. He burst out laughing and I think he told the firefighter, a good friend of his,  sitting next to him. I think he was working at the time. When he came back to the line he said, "That's exactly what you SHOULD have done!"

Granted, I felt better after that.'s the dilemma I'm facing now. At the time, my intention was actually to do as I was told, and it was really a complete accident that the water attacked my Captain.

But, as soon as I knew I really had passed the test, I didn't feel bad about it. Not a bit. And in fact, I was a bit gleeful. As were my classmates, my fellow cadets!

 They described to me how they'd heard him yell and a moment later he'd come out of the training building, drenched and fuming.....well, let's just say that their description of the events from their perspective warms my heart!

I need to go to Confession, don't I? It's been a few years, and I STILL think it's hilarious!


UPDATE FEBRUARY 2010: I have long ago forgiven that Captain for being a jerk. And actually realized after the fact that he was the best friend of a man I briefly dated, one of the worst human beings in the history of the world other than Judas.  And although I've been working on charity and all the virtues, I can't find a good reason to NOT laugh at the above scenario. I hope my fellow candidates at that time recall the incident as fondly as I do..and hope further that they only wish they were the ones at the helm of that straight stream that caused such a ruckus.


All I know is that I wish I could do it again and this time, deliberately!


Hidden One said...

I find it funny too, if that's any consolation.

Cathy_of_Alex said...


I DO love your stories. I'm sick. Can you come over with some of the Creole Garlic Soup and a story? Storytime with Adoro, that would be nice.

Kidding. You don't need to come over. I've got a big garlic bake going right now. But, I do like your stories.

Adoro te Devote said...

cathy ~ Sorry to hear you're sick. Today is actually the first day I've felt good in a couple weeks. Glad you're taking the time to be sick, which I didn't do.

Enjoy that garlic! I'm about to delve into Aquinas.

But maybe I'll have a story to tell you later...we'll see. Must study before storytime.

Hidden One ~ Thanks, that does help. :-)

uncle jim said...

and there are other story lovers among your readers for sure