So one night at drill, I stroll into the classroom a little late and find that the duty officer is leaving shortly and that I was put on the first-out engine in his place as the company officer (cringe).
I look at the assignments, and see a name I do not recognize. Turns out one of our newer members has brought his dad along, who is reportedly looking for an FD to join when he retires and moves to our area, and he has been assigned a ride-along spot on my Big Red Truck. That's cool. No problem.
After the brief classroom portion is complete, I find the guy and introduce myself. A very likeable guy, he's attentive and courteous in every way. I ask him if he's seen the engine yet, as I don't want any confusion if we get dispatched. We walk over and I show him the front-facing rear seat he'll be sitting in, and explain that the rear-facing seat has the SCBA and needs to be kept free for my crew. I tell him we won't leave until everyone reports being buckled in, including him. I tell him to go ahead and hang with us if we go out, follow along but try to stay out of the way, and we'll tell him if he needs to back off. I ask him if he's comfortable with that and if he has any questions for me before we start drill.
He's been listening patiently and showing some interest, and finally nods and says "I'm OK, I'm comfortable around this stuff".
Really? I say, What do you do?
"I've been a firefighter for Santa Barbara County for thirty years" he says.
Just jam that big ol' turnout boot down my throat, please.
He and his kid and several others had a great laugh at my expense - taught me to not walk into class late (after those guest introductions).
It was a perfect job, I'll have to remember that one for use later on.