Uncle Gabe: The Volunteer Firefighter (A Family Reunion Part 10)

Before Uncle Gabe.

It’s time to fire up the grill and start cooking the hamburgers and chicken. (The hot dogs will be roasted over on open fire because one fire hazard isn’t enough for your family.)

You’ve discovered your uncle Gabe (who is a volunteer firefighter) is in charge of the grill and the fire pit this year.

You question the wisdom of allowing your uncle Gabe (the volunteer firefighter) to oversee the grill and fire pit as his presence seems to frequently precede catastrophe.

“This isn’t a good idea,” you tell Cousin Bucky.

“I’m in charge of nothing,” cousin Bucky tells you as he shrugs his shoulders.

“Do you remember what happened the Thanksgiving Uncle Gabe cooked the turkey in a deep fryer?”

“I remember. The guys at the firehouse still refer to it as the incident.”

Your uncle has been on fire so many times, he has virtually no hair left on his body. Oddly he has never been set on fire as the result of his duties as a volunteer firefighter, but as the result of his sheer stupidity.

“Was that the same year uncle Jed cut his thumb off?” Cousin Bucky asks you.

“It couldn’t have been,” you tell him. “Uncle Gabe was there to administer first-aid, and not at the burn unit of the hospital.”

“That’s right. It was a good thing Uncle Gabe was there to stop the bleeding and take care of the severed thumb. The doctor said they could have saved the thumb if it hadn’t caught on fire.”

“Yeah,” you agree. “You wouldn’t think something packed in a bag of ice could catch on fire.”

You and Cousin Bucky pause for a moment to reflect upon your uncle Gabe’s ability to inadvertently ignite things.

You decide to check on your uncle Gabe (the volunteer firefighter) to see how he is doing. Not out of concern, but out of the sheer the enjoyment you derive when bad things happen to him (your uncle Gabe–the volunteer firefighter).

Note: you may think I’m bringing up the point that your uncle Gabe (the volunteer firefighter) is a volunteer firefighter a little too often. But it’s not as often as he brings it up.

“How are things going with the grill,” you ask. “Any burn victims yet?”

“Things are going great–I’m volunteer firefighter you know,” he boasts.

“I’ve heard that once or twice,” you tell him. “It’s just that…when you leave a place, things tend to be on fire that weren’t on fire before you got there. You’re really more like a fireman from Fahrenheit 451 than a genuine firefighter.”

“If I understood that reference, would I be pissed off?” he asks you.

You explain that Fahrenheit 451 is a Ray Bradbury novel set in a dystopian future where firemen start fires rather than put them out.

“If I knew what dystopian meant, would I be pissed off?” he follows.

“I think you’d be fine with it,” you reply.

“It’s okay, I’m trained to deal with fire–I’m a volunteer firefighter.”

“Sure. Have your burns from the fireplace fiasco at the Christmas party healed yet?”

“What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.”

“Or it disfigures and cripples you.”

“I can treat wounds–I’m a volunteer firefighter,” he tells you as he swats at his apron which has caught on fire.

“Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, check it out.”

And with that bit of helpful advice, you retreat to a safe distance.

After Uncle Gabe.