Retired Firefighter    ■    Power Dispatcher    ■    Husband    ■    Daddy    ■    Grandpa    ■    Crazy Man

Monday, April 25, 2011


Yet another drunk driver, yet another one-car wreck, yet another person who abandoned the scene. This time they somehow managed to take their car with them, though not before several bystanders noted not just the intoxicated status of the driver but also his license plate number.

I arrived on scene second, and was prevented from two-hatting by the Engine 56 officer, who noted that the power lines were in the road and that with no patient there was nothing for us to do but close it down and wait for the local power company guys. Thus I never made the scene, but stopped short a few hundred yards back at the point of a perfect turnaround. Seriously, it was a paved parking lot with two entrances. It was ready-made just for this situation.

I parked Engine 51 a little past the second entrance and put down cones indicating that drivers should turn into the parking lot. A gift-wrapped traffic redirection solution if there ever was one.

For the next few hours, none, not any, not a single car used the full turnaround. Every single driver without exception abandoned the perfect turnaround opportunity in order to do a three-point turnaround at the other entrance, or did a three-point turnaround in the parking lot and went back out the way they went in. I triple-checked how my cones were down, that I was not too close to the second entrance to scare people off, that the intuitive curve of the cones was visible to approaching traffic. Check, check, check... all good. What gives? I never figured it out, but the theme of abandonment continued unabated as the perfect traffic control solution was left utterly unused.

But this was not the worst abandonment of all.

My oldest teenager was with me on an approved ride-along with liability waivers on file and all that. Once it became clear that we were going to be parked for quite a while, she sweetly asked for permission to join the mixed crew of third-due Engine 53, who was being released for lack of anything else to do. E53 stood a better chance of seeing action than E51 was going to get on boring old traffic control. Thus, my daughter abandoned me with a wave, a blown kiss, and twinkle in her eye!

Lonely broken power poles, lonely perfect turnarounds, lonely grumpy dispatchers. All of us abandoned. Sigh.

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