In the last week I have applied to dozens of school districts, christian schools, and county governments. I have spent hours pouring over job posting pages that say "no vacancy". Then I stumbled upon what would have been my dream job just a little over a year ago. Teaching fire and police work to high school kids at a local vocational school. I stared down at the job posting after it zipped off the printer.
I am more than qualified to teach this, I think with the paper in my hands. I applied for the same job at a different school a few years ago and lost out to a guy who was more qualified than I. Still, I am way more qualified than most of the people that will apply for this slot.
Something deep inside hopes I get this job because I need the money and I need the insurance. Something deep inside hopes I don't even get an interview. Why? Because I will be treading down a path I thought I had left behind me. I will re-enter the world of the fire service, even if only as an instructor, and as I began to think about how cruel some of the men treated me, I feel the bile rise up in the back of my throat. I think about how difficult it is going to be to teach something I loved so dearly, and that betrayed me in so many ways.
But I need the job. And I know I will be good at it. My mind finds all kinds of reasons NOT to put together a package for the school's director. My mind tries to reason that because I can no longer physically fight fire, that I can not teach it. But that just isn't so. A deep part of me wants this job SO bad, because it had been a dream of mine to teach at this school doing this exact thing! I would be SO good at it. I would be better than anyone had ever had time to be, and then some.
How can I teach this with a straight face? How can I stand in front of a group of kids and tell them that being a firefighter or a cop is the best thing out there when being a firefighter nearly broke my soul? Part of my soul will always lurk where those big red trucks are. Part of me will always listen to the sirens in the distance and feel envy. Part of me will always hate myself for not standing up for myself when I was pushed, cursed and called slurs. Part of me wants nothing more than to don that gear again and prove to myself and to the naysayers that I am still brave, still strong, and still one of them.
Part of me wants the nightmares to go away, and wants to feel as if I am worth more than the piece of trash a few of the men treated me like. I was great at that job, and no matter how good, no matter how great I became at anything, I was always met with scorn and ridicule for the tiniest infraction. Sure you can tie all of the rescue knots, but your hair is in your face. Sure you just pulled your buddy from the hole in the floor of that burning house by yourself, but you didn't see that muddy hand print on the camera you never used. Sure you just fought a wildland fire for 16 hours and have been awake for 32, but you missed a spot cleaning the urinal. Sure you have been in the station running errands for the chief during the drill, but its because you are a dumbass. Sure you just worked the first major plane crash at this department in 15 years, but you left your school books on the counter when the alarm came in.... The list goes on and on and on....
I know the job inside and out, even after 18 months away from the station. Even after being out of the loop, I have not forgotten. I have not forgotten anything.
I need the job. I need the pay, the benefits, and the feeling that I'm doing something worth while.
So the packet, addressed to the school, sits in a dark post office bin some where between here and there. It contains a resume, a great cover letter, transcripts, and so on. I look at the paper with the job posting now tossed carelessly aside on the desk. Am I the one they will want? Can I train kids to love two of the most dangerous jobs outside the military?
Can I forgive myself for betraying my own heart and stepping back into the fire service once again?
There is no redemption to find. There is no rescue from the mixed feelings I have about the job I applied for. There is no way I can recover the lost pieces of my soul that are somewhere deep within the smoke tinged halls of a fire station. Just as I am beginning to heal, I look again in the general direction of the fire that scorched me, and think about another approach.
Que sera, sera.... What will be, will be.......
UPDATE: only two days after mailing in my resume, I received the "you are not in the pool of people we actually want to speak to in person"letter. So no worries, eh?