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Essentially Ashland

Burning at both ends

The year was 1976 and I knew that it was going to be a long flight home as we sat in our seats aboard a 747 on the tarmac in Belgium, waiting for some mysterious mechanical repair to be completed. I think that the mechanics had gone home for lunch and a nap, as we clocked six hours in the plane without moving. Forty-two hours and many airports of delays later, we landed in Medford, eager for some down time to recover from the homebound marathon.

By the time we got home, lugged our luggage and hit the sack, it was 2 a.m. I was going to sleep until noon, at least.

At 6 a.m. the phone rang, tearing me from an impossibly deep sleep. It was a reminder that the physical test for the Ashland Volunteer Fire Department was to take place some short time later at the high school. I had signed up for it, but had completely forgotten about it during our &

stay 30 days, gain 30 pounds&

tour of Europe. I rolled into my sweats and running shoes and loped out the door, as the high school was only a few blocks away.

After signing in we were told that our first test would be that of carrying a sand-laden dummy, which weighed 120 pounds, up off the ground over the shoulders and around and through an obstacle course. While waiting for the test to begin a man with a stopwatch and clipboard pulled me to one side and blurted out: &

I know that you&

re looking for a full-time position with the Fire Department, isn&

t that so?&

Truth be known I just wanted to live out a childhood fantasy of riding in fire trucks, putting out fires and just being generally helpful. I would later discover that Mr. Clipboard was a part-time fireman and a part-time police officer and had apparently seen me as a threat to his desired advancement. I will leave it up to you to decide.

Unbeknownst to me, everyone else assembled for the test had gone through several dry runs, during which they were shown the secrets and short cuts that would make passing less problematic. As I had missed the practice sessions, I did not know what to do, but figured that I would catch on just by watching a few who would surely go before me. Well, it seemed that my nemesis with the clipboard called out my name as the first to do the fireman&

s carry. When I asked to be able to watch how it was done, I was told that it was not anybody&

s fault by my own that I was out of town when the practice sessions were held.

With my nemesis watching on with a broad smile, I simply grabbed the dummy by the neck and crotch, tossed him over my head and onto my back, then took off down the obstacle course. I could have sworn that I heard a clipboard hit the asphalt as I moved out with the clothed sand on my shoulders. Later I saw how it was really done, a process somewhat easier than the solution I used.

The next test was that of carrying a roll of hose up a 50-foot ladder. Again I was told to go first and it was a minor miracle that I did not tumble off that great stretch of steps. I am not fond of heights, but the thought of wilting while my nemesis laughed was not an option. Those who followed me in the test used a little known secret that made their ascent and descent seem as if they were on an escalator at Macy&

s

The ensuing challenge was a timed one-mile run. We had to do it in under 8 minutes, which would not have been a challenge, save for all the weight I had loaded on abroad. All it took was to look at a certain clipboard carrying rascal and I dug down deep and came in 30 seconds early.

I passed two more agility tests and came up to the final: Chin ups. I was told to do as many as I could, but at least 5, then keep my chin above the bar until the time ran out. Still, being strong for my whale-weight I grabbed the bar and did 8 reps, then pulled my chin over the bar until the whistle blew. I felt good about it all until I was taped on the shoulder by you-know-who, delivering the message that I had failed to qualify. I listened carefully as I was informed that my long beard was &

technically&

for this test, counted as part of my chin. I watched the next in line utilize the &

insider&

s&

technique, which consisted of hanging for 30 seconds, then beginning the search for 5 chin-ups. No one else found themselves in the position of having to keep their chin over the bar. No one else did more than 5 chin-ups. No one else had a long beard.

After &

failing&

the test I wandered back home where Annette, my wife, asked: &

How&

d it go?&

&

I missed out by a hair,&

was my terse response.The year was 1976 and I knew that it was going to be a long flight home as we sat in our seats aboard a 747 on the tarmac in Belgium, waiting for some mysterious mechanical repair to be completed. I think that the mechanics had gone home for lunch and a nap, as we clocked six hours in the plane without moving. Forty-two hours and many airports of delays later, we landed in Medford, eager for some down time to recover from the homebound marathon.

By the time we got home, lugged our luggage and hit the sack, it was 2 a.m. I was going to sleep until noon, at least.

At 6 a.m. the phone rang, tearing me from an impossibly deep sleep. It was a reminder that the physical test for the Ashland Volunteer Fire Department was to take place some short time later at the high school. I had signed up for it, but had completely forgotten about it during our &

stay 30 days, gain 30 pounds&

tour of Europe. I rolled into my sweats and running shoes and loped out the door, as the high school was only a few blocks away.

After signing in we were told that our first test would be that of carrying a sand-laden dummy, which weighed 120 pounds, up off the ground over the shoulders and around and through an obstacle course. While waiting for the test to begin a man with a stopwatch and clipboard pulled me to one side and blurted out: &

I know that you&

re looking for a full-time position with the Fire Department, isn&

t that so?&

Truth be known I just wanted to live out a childhood fantasy of riding in fire trucks, putting out fires and just being generally helpful. I would later discover that Mr. Clipboard was a part-time fireman and a part-time police officer and had apparently seen me as a threat to his desired advancement. I will leave it up to you to decide.

Unbeknownst to me, everyone else assembled for the test had gone through several dry runs, during which they were shown the secrets and short cuts that would make passing less problematic. As I had missed the practice sessions, I did not know what to do, but figured that I would catch on just by watching a few who would surely go before me. Well, it seemed that my nemesis with the clipboard called out my name as the first to do the fireman&

s carry. When I asked to be able to watch how it was done, I was told that it was not anybody&

s fault by my own that I was out of town when the practice sessions were held.

With my nemesis watching on with a broad smile, I simply grabbed the dummy by the neck and crotch, tossed him over my head and onto my back, then took off down the obstacle course. I could have sworn that I heard a clipboard hit the asphalt as I moved out with the clothed sand on my shoulders. Later I saw how it was really done, a process somewhat easier than the solution I used.

The next test was that of carrying a roll of hose up a 50-foot ladder. Again I was told to go first and it was a minor miracle that I did not tumble off that great stretch of steps. I am not fond of heights, but the thought of wilting while my nemesis laughed was not an option. Those who followed me in the test used a little known secret that made their ascent and descent seem as if they were on an escalator at Macy&

s

The ensuing challenge was a timed one-mile run. We had to do it in under 8 minutes, which would not have been a challenge, save for all the weight I had loaded on abroad. All it took was to look at a certain clipboard carrying rascal and I dug down deep and came in 30 seconds early.

I passed two more agility tests and came up to the final: Chin ups. I was told to do as many as I could, but at least 5, then keep my chin above the bar until the time ran out. Still, being strong for my whale-weight I grabbed the bar and did 8 reps, then pulled my chin over the bar until the whistle blew. I felt good about it all until I was taped on the shoulder by you-know-who, delivering the message that I had failed to qualify. I listened carefully as I was informed that my long beard was &

technically&

for this test, counted as part of my chin. I watched the next in line utilize the &

insider&

s&

technique, which consisted of hanging for 30 seconds, then beginning the search for 5 chin-ups. No one else found themselves in the position of having to keep their chin over the bar. No one else did more than 5 chin-ups. No one else had a long beard.

After &

failing&

the test I wandered back home where Annette, my wife, asked: &

How&

d it go?&

&

I missed out by a hair,&

was my terse response.