Have you hugged a firefighter today?

Have you hugged a firefighter today?
Stock pic of a Chicago Fire Department engine

(see bottom for links to other posts in this series)

So I woke up the day after the block party with a huge grin and deep sense of contentment.  The weather had been beautiful and by all indications, residents of all ages had THE. BEST. TIME.  Including me.  (Details in a related post with pictures.)  Your Christmas Day is my Block Party Day.  Only problem was I think I had TOO much fun.  I was so exhausted I could barely move.  Literally.  And I had the distinct sensation like someone had beat my body with a stick.

To add to my dilemma I was freakin’ STARVING.  I had been a server in the food tent.  All-you-can-eat chips, cookies, water, juice, cheesecake in various flavors and grilled hot dogs with all the fixings.  I was swimming in hot dogs all day but I don’t eat ‘em—like dying of thirst in the middle of the ocean.  So I treated myself to a $5 jerk chicken pizza from the Papa T’s Pizza truck we invited.

I stayed so busy serving swarms of kids and keeping other activities running smoothly that I only had time to steal a quick bite here and there.  I was nursing that one mini pizza ALL DAY.  I was only half done when I went to serve one kid a hot dog.  When I turned back around to finish my breakfast/lunch/dinner, I was shaking an empty box.  Gives new meaning to the term “crumbsnatcher” (see the Vociferous Envoy's "Definition of a Crumbsnatcher").  You know that old saying about kids: "Give them the world and they will still eat your pizza."

While I was laying there the next morning wishing the Breakfast Genie would fly through my window and make me something good, I reflected on the events of the very wonderful day.  Not only did we get the one visit from a Chicago Fire Department crew and engine our block club members wanted so much for the kids, we were graced with a SECOND visit.  Here’s how it happened:

We have a combined block club that includes two city blocks and roughly 80 families.  Believe it or not, that’s a lot of ground to cover to keep things running smoothly logistically.  Our block party officially started at 10am.  I walked to the far end of one block at around 11am to see how things were going.

I saw a BIG RED CHICAGO FIRE ENGINE on an unrelated block and a big kid-sized grin spread across my face.  I assumed they were making their way to our block party per the request we made (see previous post).  When I mentioned this to a neighbor, she said, “Oh they’ve already been here.  They played with the kids for about 15 minutes.  They just left to take care of an emergency call that just happened to be on the next block.”

My smile slowly slid down into a grimace.  We were expecting the truck to stop at the midpoint intersection between the two blocks so kids on both blocks could share in the fun.  While I was ecstatic and appreciative that a small group of our kids experienced this thrill, I knew there would be hell to pay (okay, well at least disappointment and griping) from the parents of the majority of other kids who didn’t know the truck came and went.

Sometimes all you can do is ask.

Sometimes all you can do is ask.

I asked my neighbor, “Why didn’t you call me and tell me the truck was here?  We could have had the DJ announce it and I could have also run down to the other block to make sure all the parents knew.”  My neighbor said, “Well, one little boy hurt his foot and another little boy couldn’t find his mom.  So there was a lot going on at the time.  Sorry about that.”

So I walked down to where the engine was parked and I stood at a respectful distance while I waited for them to finish up the emergency call (things turned out okay, no one needed to be transported).  I hesitantly walked up to the man in charge and explained who I was and the situation.  I acknowledged that we as residents were at fault for the breakdown in our communication.

I said, “Sir, I know I have no right to ask you this, but if you have any time later in your day do you think you might be able to come back to visit our other block?  Even if it’s only for five minutes?”

He looked at me gravely and said, “I can’t promise anything but we’ll see what we can do.”  I knew I was out of line but as they say “it doesn’t hurt to ask.”  Better still, “A closed mouth don’t get fed.”  After that I put it out of my mind and moved on to put out the next fire, ummm, so to speak.

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Read all the posts in this 4-part series:

1.) Dancing on the pole to boost my block club?

2.) ‘The Chicago Way’ to get a visit from a fire truck

3.) Have you hugged a firefighter today?

4.) The Chicago Fire Department: hat’s off to our unsung heroes

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