If you live in a city, you probably don’t get the same feeling I get when a siren cuts through the still air; it’s different in the country. Now, this is a complete generalization and I beg anyone to disagree with me, but hear me out.
Stand on a street corner in Halifax and watch a fire truck drive past. Probably you feel a fleeting pang for whoever is awaiting the emergency vehicle. A little empathy maybe. But you go on with your day.
Change that to the country. The country where you know people. Neighbours are your kinsfolk. Even come from aways live on your ancestral land.
Here, listen to sirens, and you feel different. You feel… scared. Some people may feel wracked with emotion. At minimum, you are anxious to hear what happened.
When I was growing up, it was common to call one of the volunteer firefighters’ wives and inquire about the call. Was it a house fire? Car accident? Where? Did they say whose house?
Now, this may be country nosiness at its worst. I prefer to think it’s a sign that in the country, people do care about their neighbours whether they are related or not. Country folk tend to know multitudes of people in their community, as opposed to a street of condos in the city where you only pass strangers every day. Most of us have a keen interest in whether people we know are okay. This is probably why fire chasers follow the trucks; as awful as it is, they just want to see what’s happening and if anyone they know is part of the equation.
Last night, for me, it was a case of being nosy not by telephone but by Facebook. It was only when I heard that it was a slight MVA on my home road with no one hurt that I felt relief. Now, in the morning’s light, I’m curious to know who was impacted by even this minor event, but at least I know no one is in mortal danger. I can’t imagine feeling this way in Halifax, Dartmouth… or even Kentville.
One time at work, my fellow co-workers managed to send one of our group out the door on a full run because they told him the firetrucks were heading in the direction of his house. A mean joke. But it does show how concerned we can be when we think those emergency vehicles are coming close to home or even to our home. (By the way, all was well, and he came back to work very sheepish looking and well aware of the joke played on him.)
His response was understandable. When we hear these sirens, someone we know is in danger. Each siren is a wail for help from people we care about. Whenever I hear the sound of a siren, whether it be ambulance, fire, or police, I am curious as to where they’re going, and feel an onslaught of empathy and worry for whoever’s day is going the wrong way.
If only there was a website that kept you up to date! But, of course, most media outlets don’t bother with the country. If there’s a fire in Halifax, you hear about it for weeks. If it happens in the country, good luck in sating your curiousity and relieving your anxiety.
The moral of my story is… I don’t have a moral.
I have lots of them.