One of NYC's finest: a fireman.
Image: Katherine Kostreva.
One thing that I am painfully aware of is that Frankfurt's firefighters are definitely not made of the same stuff as the Adonises that populate NYC's fire departments (see above). And of course, I was rudely reminded of this sad fact again when yet another false alarm screamed through my apartment building at midday.
No doubt, this alarm was set off by one of my neighbors who believes that cigarette smoke is meant to be shared -- freely and widely -- never mind the fact that the public areas of my building are supposed to be smoke-free. Never mind that some of us suffer from asthma. Never mind that some of us have rather severe allergies.
This time, I was bad. Instead of leaving my rooftop hideaway 14 floors above the ground, I stayed put. Whilst the fire alarms in the hallways wailed and shrieked through the hallways and corridors, I stayed in my (relatively) quiet and smoke-free flat instead of running down hundreds of stairs, fingers jammed into my ears, so I could stand, choking and coughing, alongside my nicotine-enslaved evacuees, who were gathered outside the building, smoking like chimneys. Smoking like they were sucking down their last cigarette before their execution. Smoking as if a little fresh air might kill them all.
When I lived in NYC, I never missed evacuating for a fire alarm, never complained about false alarms, never missed the opportunity to stand near the throbbing fire engines, watching NYC's finest seek out a fire. I always carried my digital camera with me, and I often photographed the firefighters at work.
Hopeful (or perhaps delusional), I poked my camera out the window. Once again, I was reminded that Frankfurt's firemen -- fat, balding, old, white smokers themselves -- look nothing like NYC's finest. On days like this -- and let's face it, most days are like this -- I really miss the excellence that is NYC.