Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cameraman Included

I love/hate it when a big man cries. It happened again just the other day and while I guess I should have put it on television, I refrained from framing his pain. Maybe I felt sorry for the guy, maybe i didn't want my own man-card yanked, maybe I was afraid the beefy firefighter would hunt me down months from now for the mother of all pummelings. Whatever the case, I averted my gaze just in time, robbing watchers a few voyeuristic tears while shielding a man most comfortable in a helmet and Nomex coat. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

By the time his van pulled up, I'd been loitering in the fireman's yard for the better part of an hour. I wasn't alone though, as half his firehouse was waiting there with me. Eleven days earlier, the firefighter we'll call 'Pike' met with a most unpleasant fate. While closing out a charity motorcycle ride, Pike and his wife were struck by a passing car. Contusions ensued and bones were broken, but the couple survived. While both convalesced in a distant hospital, Pike's firefighter buddies moved in and rendered assistance.

They built a wheel chair ramp in front of his humble home, trimmed limbs and cut the grass among many other amenities. When the day came for Pike to come home, they gathered on his stoop and waited, even chatted up a cameraman who'd gotten wind of their good deeds. As always with idling firefighters, a great deal of grab-ass followed, but the chicanery faded when the van pulled up and their fallen friend poked his head out from the backseat. Pale, fatigued and pretty much beat, Pike quickly vanished under the thrust of his buddies' embrace.

And even though I'd never met him, my lens and I were welcome at his homecoming. In fact, I was there among the crush of first responders as they fell over themselves helping him out of the van and into a wheelchair. They were just about to stand him up when he stopped them. "Marv, "he said, "Gimme my rag". A hand appeared from inside the van and gave Pike what appeared to be a washcloth. Pike took it, lifted his wraparound sunglasses just a shade and dabbed the rag at his unseen eyes. That's when I lowered my glass.

A few seconds later, he regained composure. I lifted my lens and began to backpedal as the pack of firefighters lifted their big, burly friend into the king-sized wheelchair he'd be calling home for awhile. Nothing was said as they positioned him in the chair, but the silence said what all those brokenhearted stoics could not express. Soon Pike was as comfortable as his injuries would allow and his comrades carefully propelled him toward the door, everyone on the ramp was dabbing at their eyes...

Cameraman, included.

2 comments:

susan said...

This is such a great story. I find the longer I'm at it the more I edit those sorts of things too. Plus I find the words can be better than the visual (can't believe I just said that)-

30frames said...

A great story about great people. It's too bad these type of stories are usually preceded by such a horrible incident.