This I Believe

Aliza - Highland Park, Illinois
Entered on January 16, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: hope

I Say a Little Prayer for You

The whir of the fir truck’s siren, blaring down the streets has always alarmed me, even as a very small child. Just imagining what would happen if those fire trucks were to race down my street, and attempt to blanket fires eating up my own house, scares me to no end.

I was one of the many first grade children to learn about fire safety, and the stop, drop and roll, was forever ingrained in my mind, the first safety technique learned, and even the simplest. I’ve had my fair share of experiences with fire, some pleasant and some not. The pleasant ones mostly involve beautiful fireworks or candles, and the nasty ones invoke images of my hair catching fire, the baking cookies causing a minor explosion in the oven, as well as the match that was carelessly tossed into the garbage, leading to lots of smoke, and a half blackened trash can. However, three memories have significantly changed how I react to fire in a dangerous situation. One being when I was grade school age, and was walking home from synagogue, near my grandmother’s house, and stepping out of the building to see across the street, plumes of smoke marring the clear sky. The flames jumped out at me from a block away, twisting and turning, slowly eating away at an apartment building. Later that night, that same smoldering building was shown on the news, only to solidify my 9 year old beliefs that I was close to something dangerously real.

The second experience was when I was in seventh grade, and a social worker, who had worked at a branch of my school, was killed by a fire; many of my friends knew her well, and were hysterical that she had been caught in her house before she could escape. That was my first experience being emotionally close to a fire, someone known and loved by the community thoughtlessly swept away by the flames.

And the third happened over the summer, involving a bus explosion on the way up to camp. Running off the bus, sitting in a nearby field and watching it crawling with flames, slowly blackening. I wasn’t among those who cried, but I was genuinely freaked out. Had someone not gotten off that bus a second sooner, they could have been injured, and even though looking back, many of us joke about the “group therapy” we had to endure once we got to camp, I will most definitely always remember that day.

These three experiences I’ve had, among others, have touched my life, and how I react to fire on a daily basis. Now, whenever I see the red and blue blazing the way to the danger site, I take a 15 second break from whatever I’m doing, wherever I am, and pray for the people waiting at the truck’s destination to be okay, to not be hurt, and to escape unscathed from whatever danger they’re in. This I believe that taking time to hope for someone else, even for just a mere 15 seconds, is essential to who I am.