Red-faced about ig­nor­ing that flash­ing green light

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

BY STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON

News Staff Okay, folks. It’s con­fes­sion time. I’m deeply ashamed of what I am about to tell you. There are two rea­sons I am do­ing this:

1. I sus­pect I am not the only per­son to com­mit such a faux pas. 2. The public needs to know. This hap­pened about a month ago. I was driv­ing west on SDG 43 in Alexandria when sud­denly, this bearded guy in a grey car comes speed­ing up be­hind me. He looks anx­ious, like he des­per­ately wants me to pull over so he can pass. I re­fused though. The poor guy just kept pace with me, wring­ing his hands in ex­as­per­a­tion, and fi­nally passed me when the coast was clear. He shot me a dirty look too and I al­most gave him one back. How dare he think his des­ti­na­tion was more im­por­tant than my own.

Well, it turns out that his des­ti­na­tion was more im­por­tant than wher­ever I was go­ing that night. Im­me­di­ately af­ter pass­ing me, the bearded gen­tle­man turned left into the park­ing lot of the Alexandria fire sta­tion. I sud­den- ly re­mem­bered the green light that had been flash­ing on his dash­board – some­thing I had mis­tak­enly as­sumed to be a van­ity piece – and then I was deeply ashamed. The bearded dude in the grey car was a vol­un­teer fire­fighter. So yeah, I felt like a horse’s ass. But you know what? I’m not alone. There are plenty of folks out there who don’t know what the green flash­ing light is all about. Even worse, there’s prob­a­bly a large con­tin­gency of peo­ple who don’t care ei­ther.

As luck would have it, I re­cently fell into con­ver­sa­tion with a re­tired long­time fire­fighter with the Beck­with County Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment. He told me an aw­ful cringe-in­duc­ing story about be­ing be­hind the wheel of an ac­tual fire truck – you know, the kind that’s big and red and has a re­ally loud siren that goes WOO WOO WOO!!! The kind of ve­hi­cle that is about as sub­tle as a train wreck.

My new friend told me that he was driv­ing this truck to an emer­gency call. On the road in front of him was a woman who re­fused to get out of the way. She just kept driv­ing her car at a nice leisurely pace, to­tally obliv­i­ous to the emer­gency ve­hi­cle be­hind her that was, no doubt, fill­ing her world with red and white lights.

Even­tu­ally the truck over­took the silly lady in the car. I am not al­lowed to tell you if any ob­scene ges­tures were ex­changed. I felt bet­ter but I sure didn’t feel ex­on­er­ated. I know I’m not dumb enough to hold up an ac­tual fire truck but, ap­par­ently, I’m block­headed enough to do it to a vol­un­teer fire­fighter in his own per­sonal ve­hi­cle.

My friend from Beck­with County heard my con­fes­sion and ab­solved me as best he could. I, in turn, promised to use my ex­pe­ri­ence to pen this col­umn as a public ser­vice an­nounce­ment.

Here is the public ser­vice an­nounce­ment:

If you see a ve­hi­cle that has a flash­ing green light on the dash­board, then please treat it like it’s an am­bu­lance trans­port- ing some­one you love to the hos­pi­tal. The per­son op­er­at­ing that ve­hi­cle is a fire­fighter who may be en route to put out a fire and, quite pos­si­bly, save some­body’s life.

I have no idea who the bearded gen­tle­man in the grey ve­hi­cle is but if he’s read­ing this, I hope he will ac­cept my apol­ogy.

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