Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Another lesson in humility

It was around noon, lunch-time for my baby daughter. I had just started to feed her in her high-chair when the doorbell rang: it was the UPS man. I opened the door, saw him coming towards the door with a huge box (of diapers), and went out to get the box from him.

The very moment the door closed behind me, I realized with horror that I was locked out. I started to panic, repeatedly stuttering to the UPS man, "I'm locked out. My baby is inside. I'm locked out. My baby is inside. I'm ...." The UPS man calmly asked me if I wanted to call anyone. I didn't have my phone with me. He didn't have a phone with him. Luckily, there were a couple of workers next door, and let me use their phone. I called 911 and explained the situation.

Then I thought, maybe this is not a call for 911. Maybe I should call the police. So I shared my thinking with the 911 operator:
"I don't know, maybe this is not a call for 911. Maybe I should call the police...."
"Ma'am, this IS the police."
"Just hang in there. I am connecting you with the LAFD."

Voices changed, and I explained the situation again. I asked when they would be coming to help. They said 'as soon as possible.' I started to panic again, thinking it could be hours before I could get to my baby. She had already started to wail inside.

And at that moment, I heard a siren, and saw a red fire-engine pulling up onto the sidewalk. A team of lean, fit, very capable-looking men got out. All windows were closed and locked except one, on the second floor. One man climbed up the huge ladder that was brought in, and let me into the house.

I reached for my baby, who was very upset (to say the least), got her out of the high-chair, and held her tight. She soon calmed down. (I suspect that the actual length of time she was left alone was not too long.) When I turned around to say thank you, the men had already packed up and were ready to leave. I stopped them to say thank you, thank you, and thank you, so very much. I was almost crying.

A lesson in humility? I always thought that movies portray women who get rescued by the super-heroes as ridiculously over-dramatic. I would roll my eyes as the blond whisper teary gratitudes to the man in the mask. That day, the men from LAFD were super-heroes in my eyes. And I could have kissed the ground they walked on, out of my teary gratitude.


Blogger Los Angeles Fire Department said...


Thank you for sharing your experience and your very kind words. They mean more than you know.

Please rest assured that you did the right thing by summoning us via 9-1-1 to assist you and your daughter.

No matter your need or the time of day, always know that the men and women of your Los Angeles Fire Department are but a simple phone call away.

The only 'wrong' thing you can do is delay in calling!

In the City of Los Angeles...

For any non-emergency matter that can be handled over the phone, please contact us via 3-1-1

If you have or witness an emergency (a situation that endangers human life or property and demands our immediate on-site attention), please summon us via 9-1-1.

We hope that you and your daughter will soon visit us at your Neighboorhood Fire Station.

Come to think of it, we hope someday to see your daughter wearing one of these!

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department


11:20 PM  

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