Someone told me that firefighters call fire engines BRTs. Big Red Trucks.
Which is pleasing.
Which has a playfulness to it, a childishness, that feels right for the job every kid dreams of. Every little kid pushing a Little Red Truck round their parents’ carpet, dreaming of being big. Of being Grown Up with a Big Truck.
When I grow up, I want to be just like you.
Two BRTs were parked on my street this week. A couple of firefighters stood chatting to a man outside his house. They were relaxed. A false alarm, or maybe heroism taken in stride. They jumped in the Truck and drove off.
Crisis averted. On to the next.
A block away a little boy and his mum were waving. And their waving became more frantic as the Truck approached, as the drivers of the BRT waved back.
And then, the Truck stopped. A firefighter jumped out and crouched down by the boy, shook his hand. The mum squeezed her son’s shoulder and the man handed the boy something he’d brought from the Truck. I had to crane to see what it was as I walked by: a sheet of fire engine stickers.
The boy beamed. Mum did, too. She said, What do you say?
Think of the planning.
Think of the moment the stickers were suggested.
The weight of being a role model. Of seeing yourself in the boy stood waving on the corner. Of knowing what you would have wanted. Of placing the order with the sticker company. Of keeping the glovebox stocked up. Of taking the time to stop and shake hands.
As the Trucks drove off, they gave the boy a blast of the siren and he clutched his stickers tight.
His mum said, What do you say?
And he said, Thank you.
And he thought, When I grow up, I want to be just like you.
A version of this post was sent by email on the 10th March 2019 as part of Internet Care Package – a weekly memoir project in the form of a newsletter. It also includes links to the best things I’ve found on the internet each week and occasional updates on my theatremaking. This blog is a select archive of those emails. Subscribe to get them right in your inbox.