It’s official. We’ve got a new member in our wagon train to Ecuador. My brother Mike has decided to quit his perfectly good job as a city firefighter and join us. In truth, he had been seriously considering and researching the whole expat thing longer than Diana and I. But like most people, he’d been waiting for that mythical day when all the stars were aligned.
As I’ve written about in the past, it’s all just talk until you quit your job. I relate it to stepping off a cliff. All it takes is that first little step and, ready or not, the rest is going to happen. I suppose I should try to think of a more positive metaphor, but you get the idea.
At any rate, like my job as a modern day Mad Man, Mike’s occupation is one that is often portrayed in movies and TV shows. And in his case, it’s for good reason. He really has carried children and puppies out of burning buildings, saved the homes of little old ladies, and brought the dead back to life while their families anxiously looked on.
Yes, there were plenty of hours that would have been too dull for even the most inane reality show. But a handful of times each year, Mike and his station-mates were someone’s only hope. And I can assure you that in his twenty years on the job, he always managed to not only act–but actually care about the outcome–when that call rang out.
I’ll never forget the night after September 11, 2001, when I was awakened by a call from Mike at about 2 a.m. It lasted nearly an hour, yet there were almost no words spoken. There was only the uncontrollable sobbing of a man dealing with the loss of 343 brothers he’d never met.
For several years following that unspeakable disaster, America seemed to have a whole new appreciation for the sacrifices its firefighters and police officers made when duty called. We started thanking them for their service. We bought them drinks in neighborhood pubs. And if we were women–according to Mike–we were more brazen than ever about slipping them our phone numbers.
Then one day, a group calling itself the Tea Party figured the patriotic thing to do was to malign the people who protect or lives and property, put criminals behind bars, teach our children, etc. They decided that “government workers” was a better title than say, “heroes.” Then they explained how these leeches on society were the whole problem. After all, they had unions that ensured they were fairly compensated. The nerve of these people, expecting the American Taxpayer to pay middle-class wages to a guy just for running into burning buildings, stepping between criminals and their would-be victims, or educating the children most of us threw in daycare until they were finally school-aged.
Come to think of it, maybe the stars have aligned for Mike to leave the country after all. Hell, maybe he and his band of blood-suckers should be deported altogether. Just think of the savings to Sean Hannity’s tax bill.
Anyway, it looks like there will be one less “government worker” for President Romney to deal with come January of 2013.
Now if he can just figure out how to keep poor people from needing food.