Mario Villalobos

Better Than That

I’m better than them. That’s something I’ve been thinking a lot for the past few days, with them referring to pretty much every member of the 10-person crew I was out fighting fire with the past two days. There was nobody on that fire I actually liked, and it all started with the crew boss, who wasn’t even a qualified crew boss but a trainee, with this being his first fire out on his own. Last year, he was involved in a drug bust of sorts where him and another firefighter were taken to take drug tests. This trainee was able to procure urine from another firefighter, which helped him pass his test. The other man, not so much. But this man didn’t go down without a fight. He said he wasn’t the only firefighter doing drugs, which prompted the administration to require a drug test from everyone with one caveat: if you refused to take the test, you would be banned for only one year, whereas if you took the test and failed, you would be banned for life. Around ten firefighters refused to take the test, so they were all banned to fight fire this year.

Everyone except this trainee.

He was lazy and useless and completely oblivious over what to do, and his lack of discipline and laziness permeated throughout the crew, causing us to, I think, leave the fire early over incompetence. We could’ve been up there longer if we were more competent. But we weren’t. That pissed me off. Another thing that pissed me off was the fact that our small 10 man crew contained 5 rookies, 1 lazy crew boss trainee, 1 man who had spent the last 5 years in prison, 1 man who has been doing this for years but liked to hear himself talk more than work, 1 second year veteran who intentionally made himself vomit after every meal because he wanted to lose weight, and me. I tried to teach these rookies — who had zero experience on a mountain since their rookie class didn’t have any training on the mountain due to new restrictions enforced by the government — how to fight fires, but they were either too stupid to listen or too stubborn to listen to me. I would teach them something and the very next second they would do something I explicitly told them not to do. I would teach them again, but I could see in their faces that they didn’t give a shit. Eventually, I didn’t give a shit either. I went off on my own and worked the fire my way.

The fire pissed me off, so when I came home last night (like I said yesterday) all I wanted to do was rest and watch TV. I completely forgot about my obligation to write. I don’t know if this misstep will color the rest of my entries in a negative light, but I hope it doesn’t. I simply forgot. Life got in the way. I didn’t intentionally miss my writing session out of laziness or whatever. It simply slipped my mind.

I go back to work tomorrow. I hope a return to my regular routine — with hopefully a renewed focus to do more — will bring a sense of normalcy back into my life. Fire season is heating up, and I don’t know what I want to do. The only reason I want to keep fighting is for that extra influx of cash that I can use to pay off some debts. I don’t know if going out there on the mountain and camping out with a hit-or-miss crew is enticing anymore. The shit these men talk about all the fucking time is mind-numbing. Drugs, bitches, or crime. That’s all. If not crime, then about how masculine they are. It’s juvenile, and I’m so damn tired of it. This is definitely not my crowd, and it only took me four years to figure that out. Damn.