Monday, November 30, 2009

Dear Probie.....

(The reader will have to parse this out on their own, This letter can take a number of paths, but in the end, it should all come out the same. It reflects what I say now, or should have said in the past, to all the new members that pass before my eyes. Perhaps it is what you should say to yours? Just pick the option from the [bracketed text] to suit your needs.)

Dear Probie,
Welcome to our Department, and thank you for volunteering your time in what is to be both a rewarding and trying experience. You are [16], [17], [18], [19], [half my age], [about my age], [older than I], [good God, WAY too old to be doing this!] but I think I can easily relate to your situation and it is my job to make sure you survive your probationary period and become a functioning and valuable part of our team. I am [an old fart], [twice your age], [just a couple of years older than you], [about your age] and have been in this Department [longer than I can remember], [since we had horses], [for xx years], [for several years], [well over a year now] and have gained a lot of experience and knowledge that I would like to pass along.
Part of being a probie means that you will be asked to do the most menial and meaningless tasks, slowly working your way up to less menial and meaningless tasks. You should understand that we all do these tasks and you, as a valuable member need to know how to do them also, and do them well. You may think we are ‘picking on you’ and ‘having fun with you’, and that, of course is true. But you should understand that this is our way of feeling you out. We need to know where you are strong and where you are weak. We will, in time, take advantage of your strengths, and help you overcome your weaknesses.
At times you will be [screamed at], [yelled at], [ass reamed], [kicked in the ass], [counseled], [spoken to sternly], [corrected with extreme prejudice] when you don’t do what is expected. This is normal, and we all go through it. This is how we learn, and keep from getting hurt.
Your parents [raised a fine child], [didn’t do you right], [left a lot to be desired], [would like to see you come home each night], [said they would send their new address when they settle in] and we are now a new part of your family, as you have become part of ours.
My job, as your Line Officer is to [teach you the ropes (and knots)], [make sure you don’t die], [keep you safe], [ease your transition into the Department], [make sure you get off to a good start], [keep you from getting any of us killed], [be your mentor and friend], as I have done for many others before you.
I just want you to understand ahead of time that when I [lose my flippin’ mind], [yell at you], [kick you in the ass really hard], [grab you by the back of your helmet and drag you to where you should be], [speak to you in a forceful and stern manner] it is only because I am concerned for your safety. The same can be said for any other member of our Department, we all want you to succeed and be proficient.
You can expect to see my face at your recruit class on a regular basis. Your instructor is an old friend of mine. I will be checking in regularly to make sure [he is giving you an ass beating on a regular basis], [the training you receive is up to our high standards], [you don’t embarrass the Department], [your needs are being met], [you are not in need of remediation or further training]. Between the two of us, we will make a Firefighter out of you.
So, as you enter the Fire Service, one of the oldest and greatest traditions in this Great Nation, I want you to know that if you have [any questions], [any whiny assed needs], [any hurt feelings you need to share], [a hand to hold], [needs that are not being met], [any piss-ant complaints] you can bring them to me and I will see that they get [the attention they deserve], [tossed in the bucket with all the other complaints], [made public so we can all make fun of you], [treated with the utmost sensitivity and attention].
Volunteering your time is one of the greatest things a person can do. We want to make sure this is [as easy as possible], [as difficult as possible], [a pleasurable experience], [an experience you will always remember fondly], so if there is anything I do can do make that happen, you just let me know.
In service of others,
[Your Line Officer]

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