Jacqui (jacqui) wrote,
Jacqui
jacqui

Television Depression, Personal Alarm Locators, and a Conversation with Captain Mike Rodriguez

Am having pasta for lunch. I have been avoiding going to the market for so long, I don't think I can put it off any longer. I try to limp by with orders from Pink Dot, (who mystify me with their ability to stay in business when they are sooo incredibly bad at what they do) and the occasional stop at a yucky 711 or some other quickie place, but I'm certainly not doing any favors for anyone's health around here by doing that. Argh, maybe I can gather enough energy to go to a regular market today. Wish me luck.

Hey, I know why I'm not as depressed as I usually am by this hour, I haven't listened to any news or watched any television since last night. Aha! I think I started my weekend television depression programming by watching too much TLC. I really liked the specials they had on the disaster, but the trouble is I just sit there watching it, and then I start sobbing.

There were some videos I hadn't seen before, one where a woman, who is videotaping the cloud of debris coming her way, gets pulled in to a store by some quick thinking people, and shoots the cloud passing by the window from inside the store. The blackness, the horror of it, and this woman shrieking, "Oh my God," over and over again, and then thanking the people for saving her life.

Then there's the video taken by a doctor who rushed to the scene. I'm grateful to him for shooting it, but it's horrible. At one point he thinks he's going to die and is talking to his camera in the darkness. Then there is that high pitched alarm/ringing sound that seems to be coming from everywhere, and I don't think I'll ever forget learning that those are the sounds of the firefighters personal alarms going off when they haven't moved for a period of time.

I feel so angry and helpless and lonely when I watch these shows. I feel so far away from everything, I want to go to New York, just so I can hug someone, anyone there, but I can't afford to, and there's the whole fear of flying thing I'd have to deal with.

I just called our local fire station. I had a long conversation with Captain Mike Rodriguez. He was amiable, chatty even. He told me that the alarms we hear on the video are personal alarm locators or PALs. "We tell the guys these are their pals." They're tied in to the guys breathing apparatus, some of the older one's were worn on their jackets. If one of the men falls or is trapped or is hurt in some way, the alarms will go off after twenty-thirty seconds. They bleep at an incredibly loud 110 decibels and flash a red light as well. The Captain said they will work under six feet of water, a grim piece of information if ever there was one.

I asked him if he knew my ex-brother-in-law who is a firefighter. When he wanted to know where he was stationed I had to tell him that I don't know anymore because our family blew apart when Robby and I did. This prompted a conversation about firefighters and marriage. He said some wives can't take the twenty-four hour separation, that many of them cheat, and the guys worry. He said he tells the men not to call so much, that the wives will call them when they want to. That you can't worry about something like that or you'll end up with an ulcer. He also told me not to be sad, that firefighters don't ever die. "We don't just die, we trade. We'll do our job and we'll do it bravely, but we don't just die, we never give up like that. You gotta remember that for those three hundred and fifty guys that went down, there were forty-five to fifty-thousand people that were saved. That's a good trade."

You know, in all the years I've lived here, I've never paid them a visit. They're right up the street, and I've never taken Beau, never thanked them for risking their lives for us. I had thought about going by after the disaster in New York, just to let them know we were thinking about them, and were grateful, but I never got around to it. So today, after I pick the kids up from school, we're going to pay a visit to Captain Mike, and the men at our local fire station. I'm going to pick some roses from my garden to take to them. I'm going to thank them and give them hugs if they'll let me.
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