And Another Thing!
Friday, in my ignorant non-recognition of Bike to Work Day, I drove to work. Upon exiting my housing tract and hitting the main drag, I immediately ran into a line of slow/stopped traffic. Not an unusual thing on a weekday morning as I live off a collector route that feeds folks in to the expressways.
I did think it unusual to see gobs of flashing red lights at the first intersection after my street though. Low speed, not a hugely busy intersection, it’s a 4 lane “t”ing in with a 2 lane residential street. But there were a ton of lights. I also saw firefighters out in the street. I figured they were working an accident, rare though they may be at that intersection.
But they weren’t. I saw orange cones set up, keeping people in their lanes. Thought maybe the State Troopers were involved too, doing tag inspections or some such. But all those ideas were blown to dust when I saw the boots. It was a flippin boot drop!
That is to say, the local fire department was set up on a state highway, restricting traffic slowing down everybody all so they could shove a boot in your window in hopes that you’d drop a dollar into it.
Our fire department is supported by our tax dollars. They have the finest equipment available. There are paid firefighters there so that whenever there is a call, there is someone available to respond and we aren’t totally dependant on volunteers. Buildings & equipment are supported via taxes, firefighter needs (food/coffee/water) while at lengthy calls, refreshments served during meetings, other creature comforts, are supported from the “2% fund”, a special levy taken from companies underwriting home owners insurance policies in New York. I was a FD treasurer for a few years back in the day, I know a thing or two about how these places are funded.
The FD I was in used to have fund raisers. Turkey shoots, carnivals, dinners, heck, even boot drops. We’d use that money to buy gear – bunker pants & coats, boots, dress uniforms for parades, general support of our parade squad – things like that. But we didn’t stop 4 lanes of traffic during a Friday morning rush hour and shove our boots in drivers faces trying to guilt them into dropping a buck in the boot.
I treated it like a trip through the ghetto. Didn’t roll down my window, didn’t make eye contact, didn’t even pretend to make a move for my wallet. It just irks me that an organization that is funded by tax dollars feels entitled enough to stop traffic on a state highway and beg for more money. At least they didn’t try to wash my windows with a fire hose.
I’ll be writing to the county fire chiefs association and that fire department about this too. My signing the letter might even have a 0.001% greater influence because my Dad was head of the County Chiefs organization back when I was still the treasurer for that other Fire Department 20 or so years ago.
I don’t mind that they are trying to drum up money for dress uniforms or rec room equipment. I DO mind that they’re doing it in the middle of a 4 lane road during morning rush hour. Road rage (my own included) is bad enough – why beg for more?
On a separate note, I’m at that Al Anon conference now, killing time between the conclusion of the business meeting and the start of dinner. Thought I’d take care of a little business, maybe do a little web surfing, but this hotels “hi-speed” internet access rivals a 56K dial up modem. That can’t be a product of me being in a town the size Owego, NY, can it?
Pretty area of the state, all hilly, not flat like at home. The Susquehanna river is right outside the hotel too. Might go take a peek tomorrow if the weather is decent.
Gotta go dress for dinner and head downstairs. Have a great weekend folks.