Posts Tagged ‘firemen’

West Virginia

May 18th, 2009

West Virginia is extremely different than I imagined.  Vast, lush forests paint the landscape.  The rolling Appalachian and Allegheny Mountains run through a good portion of the state, bordered by the muddy Ohio river to the North East.  White water rafters find themselves at home conquering the turbulent rapids of the rivers while hikers trek the dense vegetation.  On Friday, I went rock climbing along the New River Gorge with a few expert climbers from Pennsylvania, who were generous enough to let me use their climbing equipment.

Huntington Fire Station #1To the West lies Huntington, the second biggest city with a population of 49,000.  I spent the last couple days living there at the main fire station.  It’s like a house: a fully stocked kitchen, laundry room, gym, movie room, game room, and dormitory.  But, with the amenities, come long 24 shifts.

It takes a man of certain character to want to live this lifestyle – low pay and long hours in hazardous situations – all of which can cause rifts in relationships and marriages.  And yet, it is this hero who calls it his gain, because these are minor inconveniences when compared to the nobler cause – rescuing people from burning buildings, opening mangled cars, acting as backup paramedics, and helping the damsel in distress.  His mellifluous loving nature naturally exudes.

I want to live,
I want to give
I’ve been a miner
for a heart of gold
It’s these expressions
I never give
That keep me searching
for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old
Keeps me searching
for a heart of gold

Firemen and many in the South already have what Neil Young strived for – a heart of gold.

Coming from the white-collar world where one constantly has to monitor his own speech for fear of discipline from human resources, it is refreshing to see that with these firemen, there is no beating around the bush in the vernacular.  And this is not out of malice or spite, but out of a camaraderie reminiscent of kin.  I tell you the truth, it is a noble thing to want to regulate speech and use discerning words to respect the comfort levels of others.  But none is richer than the family that is willing to tolerate direct criticisms without fear of retribution.  This is the beginning of the heart of gold.