The Big Boys Bring Their Toys

Oct 29, 2011 by

As I mentioned in my last blog, the two elder SONS of Thunder and I recently went camping with some other dads and Boy Scouts.

And  because we chose that weekend, it was freezing. The day before, in the 80s, the day after, 80s. The days we were there, 30s. Go figure.

It was an opportunity to get out in the woods, sharpen sticks and poke each other’s eye out. Or teach the boys so they can earn their First Aid Merit Badge, which goes hand-in-hand with the whole poke your eye out bit.

And the organizers went all out. Remember all those fire trucks and helicopters and ambulances your boys played with for hours when they were young? You know, the ones you would kick with your toe or step on and start screaming about “how many times have I told you to put your toys away and keep them out of the living room???” as you’re hopping on one foot with pain shooting through said toe?

Yeah, those toys.

But this time, we got to see, up close, the real deal. The sheriff’s office flew in their surveillance helicopter, the county fire department brought engine and ladder trucks, we had ambulances and four-wheel drive rescue vehicles and even a boat or two.

The big boys brought the big toys. And the kids were in heaven. And yes, the dads were salivating a little, but not too much because we have to act like, well, dads and be mature and all that.

And smack dab in the middle of this field of testosterone is a junk car. And everyone is waiting for the show to start.

Officially, the fire department was going to demonstrate how they extract a driver from a crushed car. In our world, they were going to rip that sucker up with some of the coolest looking tools – the kind you’d see Cyborgs using instead of arms.

The big boys took mercy on us, at least mercy on the dads. They used battery-powered equipment instead of hydraulics. Meaning there wasn’t near the noise factor involved, which probably disappointed the boys because of the lack of noise, but meant my eardrums didn’t bleed, so I was happy.

And they went after that car and the boys – and yeah, dads – just hooped and hollered as one door, then another and then the roof came off. Those tools, commonly called the “jaws of life,” did quite a number on that car.

And like everyone else, I was fascinated and impressed. But being the journalist that I am, I also saw something else. That’s because I had watched and listened to these guys prior to the show, and during, and afterward.

To the boys, the big boys got to play with massive scissors and pliers and rip stuff up. And that was exactly what they did.

But it was also something else.

Prior to the demonstration, I watched the big boys walk around the car and use a bunch of big words and point to various stress points and bolts and hinges and whatnot.

And during the demonstration, I watched them perform. And that’s the only word I can think of because they went after that car with pure precision. It was an art form. There was no wasted motion. Everyone had a job, everyone did that job.

And after it was all over and the kids walked away, they stayed and pointed to this and that and used some other big words and cut and pried some more.

And it finally hit me.

To the observers, it was a demonstration. To the big boys with the big toys, it was practice.

And I realized I never, ever, want to see their faces.

Because if I do, it means I’m trapped in some car. Or worse, the Little Black Dress and the SONS are trapped. And the only thing that will save me or my family are those big boys with their big toys. But in this case, they are no longer toys. They are tools. And the big boys are first responders, the ones who get to that wreck first. The ones who save your life.

And as I walked away, I thought to myself I never want to see you, but just in case, you go right ahead and practice all you want.

Because maybe I might see you or The Dress might see you. And the only comforting thing I know is you’re ready – ready to do what you do best.

And thank you.




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