The fires in California are terrible, but they remind me of the time when I saved two states through my fire-fighting skills. It was a few years ago in Morganton, North Carolina when a raging forest fire was threatening civilization, a few moonshine operations, and marijuana fields back up in the hollers.
The state was begging for volunteers, so I set aside my duties as an English instructor at Western Piedmont Community College, and joined the fray under the direction of professional fire fighters. I worked from dawn to dusk and discovered what hard physical labor was like. When we paused briefly for lunch, lounging on the mountain top, Hardee's brought us free food, which we inhaled. Then we went back to work.
The men I helped were enormous employees of a tree company, and most of them were built like trees: Men with no necks and a coarse sense of humor, joking about the time they drove off the mountain in the bulldozer, or stepped up to their neck in a hole in the ground that held a still-burning tree stump.
When I got home that night, I told my LSW that I was going straight to bed. She suggested I look in the mirror first, and there I saw a guy whose appearance was totally covered with black ash. My eyes and teeth were visible, and that was it. I took a shower.
I did recover, eventually, and was pleased to learn my actions saved the states of North Carolina and Virginia from being burned into oblivion. So, if you're from either of those states, let me just say, "You're welcome!" I am now waiting for a call to save California.