09/06/2021 It’s been a hot minute

Wow! It’s been a while since I posted anything. 16 days, to be exact.

I wish I had an exciting reason to justify such a long absence. You know, something to make you say “Man! I wish I had her life”. No such luck. It’s been pretty run-of-the-mill, boring, around here. With the exception of yesterday, that is.

Urban living brings with it myriad sounds from the streets and surrounding buildings. It’s quite natural to be able to tune them out after a while. They turn into nothing more than white noise, eventually, and can sometimes become comforting. Even car and smoke alarms often go unnoticed. This is actually a real phenomenon, one which medical professionals need to constantly fight. We call it alarm fatigue. Imagine monitors beeping and alarms clanging constantly throughout the day. It’s a hazard, potentially deadly, to let those fade into the background.

White noise aside, yesterday morning around 8:30 AM, an industrial sounding fire alarm started screaming. And it was loud–so out of place that I looked up from the book I was reading. Almost instantaneously, I received an alert from the Citizen app telling me of a smoke condition. No lost dog, today.

Now if I’d have had the balcony doors open, I’d have smelled it, but it was going to be hot and humid yesterday so we were closed up, air tight, with the AC on. So, I looked up from the couch and saw plumes of smoke rising less than 200 feet away.

DAMN! The motel is on fire!

After I set up my phone to record the activity for a live Citizen Broadcast, I ran for my camera. Damn, again! It still had my macro lens on it. Quick switch to the telephoto and I was off to document the Firefighters at work.

It was really quite a thing of beauty to watch. Everyone knew their part, like they had rehearsed this particular act in a play until they could perform it in their sleep and even with the understudies on stage. I have always held a deep sense of pride and awe for first responders, and this display rekindled the wonder and respect I have for them all.

We’ve lived through a tumultuous 18+ months that cast shade and doubt on those who “protect and serve”. It’s risen to the fever pitch of contempt and hate, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to abate any time soon, either. I have mixed emotions about it all. But again, that’s a bunch of political stuff I vowed to keep off my blog, so I’ll stop there. Just know that I developed a new sense of hope because of what I witnessed yesterday.

Now, the fire wasn’t big from my vantage point. It was on the far side of the building; so it was as far as it could be from where my balcony is while still being in the building adjacent to mine. I was safe…thanks for your concern.

At times I felt like an interloper whilst I snapped away, but the Firefighters were so engrossed in their roles that I doubt they noticed me. The excitement I felt as I tried to capture their essence was at fever-pitch. I could hardly breathe steady. (Nah. It wasn’t the smoke. Again, thanks for your concern.)

But they were steady. They were purposeful. The were concerned. They were intense. They were calm.

Oh! I should have told you the motel was abandoned. Oops. Mea culpa.

It’s been closed since the lock-downs started. Over the past couple of months, it’s been sold and now undergoing renovation. So it wasn’t occupied. Well, except for the one injured person who I assume was the target of the police helicopters searching overhead the night before. This is merely conjecture but a pretty good one since the police scanners on Citizen reported that “the injured has been transported to jail”.

But back to the Firefighters. There were 3 companies that responded. LAFD 27, 35, and 52. They co-mingled like the best of friends–family, even. I guess it’s true what they say about bonds forming stronger when adrenaline is involved. In fact, dating advice recommends amusement parks for first dates for that very reason.

And it must be true. The Disney Aficionado I dated some years back told me so. And did we go to Disneyland on a date? You betcha!

And perhaps it’s why I am feeling a sense of connection to these Firefighters, the subjects of my photo session. Adrenaline. Dopamine. While I was safe, the heart was still pumping wildly.

Now I’m not delusional enough to go to the stations and say hello, but this experience gives me the feeling that I want to do something for them. To thank them for what they do. To offer some sort of gesture that conveys the amount of respect and admiration I have for them. They work under extraordinary circumstances for people they may never meet.

They are everyday heroes. I am honored to have been able to capture the essence of their life’s work in this way. Hopefully they’ve seen my IG post and know that someone, on an otherwise uninspiring day, watched them work with a sense of appreciation, wonder, and awe.

And I want to thank them not only for the dangerous work they do, but also for providing such a worthy subject for an impromptu photo session. This accidental foray into Photo Journalism was an incredible experience.

Rock on, LAFD!

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