The Original Huff-Daddy

Last night we got a call at the firehouse from our dispatch center. They wanted to let us know that a high-speed pursuit had recently ended, right in front of our station. Normally, I shake my fist at rubber-neckers, but when you have a situation in your front yard, that merits some observation.

The smell of brakes permeated the superheated, sticky, nasty, humid air and in the middle of it all were three cop cars surrounding a slightly dented Toyota Prius in our parking lot. Everyone was sweating and there was a howling mad woman cuffed on the ground, shrieking as though she was going through an exorcism. She angrily screamed at anyone while stringing together a list of colorful adjectives that would make a sailor awkward. I loved it.

The cops were standing there, debating their cop-like debates they have amongst themselves when I walked up to them and asked them how their evening was going. This was a tense moment that could’ve gone either way, since we firemen enjoy a precarious relationship with our brothers in blue, probably stemming from their raging jealousy of us. We like to tell jokes like “what do cops and firefighters have in common? They both want to be firefighters.” They respond with loving terms of endearment like “F- you, you f-ing lazy firemen”. Then we all have a good laugh, and they go back to being resented my most of the community while little old ladies and children continue to love us.

But I digress.

The police officers in question could see I was the designated smart-ass of the group, so they came up good-naturedly and gave me the low-down. It helped that I offered them a soda first, as a gesture of our benevolence as firefighters. One of them approached us and said “don’t underestimate those damn Priuses. We’ve been chasing her all around the Northside for a while now. Those little things can move!” I’ve edited that statement, but you get the gist. Apparently, the driver was hopped up from huffing paint and went on a little Tour de North Springfield at high speeds. I’m just glad no one got hurt as a result of her impersonation of an urban TrashCar racer, but it got me to thinking.

Here was this half-baked crazy lady, hauling ass and slinging rubber around Northtown, eluding the long arm of the law while piloting a Toyota Prius, a car that’s better known for making the statement that you’re a sensitive environmentalist rather than a crazy outlaw paint snorter. There’s the old saying that goes something like “it’s the crappy carpenter who blames his tools.” I’ve been known to make a pitch for buying more shop tools by telling The Wife that I can go no further with my labors of love until I buy some better tools, and more of them. Rarely does this marketing technique work in my favor, and I end up blaming the poor quality of my creations on lacking the this and the that, which would make the end results that much better.

Our little speed demon didn’t need a Big Block Oldsmobile 400 cubic inch engine, capable of delivering 360 horsepower and 440 foot-lbs of torque to hold her own against our local police cruisers. She did it in a car with the same engine used to power sewing machines and boat trolling motors. She used what she had to get her job done. And, while it came to an abrupt end in front of our firehouse with relatively little fanfare, it impressed me nonetheless.

Obviously, I need to spend some more time on working with the tools I have, rather than trying to bankrupt my family by purchasing more of  what I don’t really need. As I survey the chaos that is my shop, I’m really pretty good with that which I have. I have more than enough paint in the supply cabinet, and I’m relieved for a moment that I don’t live on Springfield’s Northside. Because when that lady makes bail? She’s gonna be looking for more fuel for her next high speed rally. The Prius can only take her so far.