Wild Hose is not the name of a bar, but in case you’re thinking it would be a good name, Olivia and I have already made a game plan for opening this bar when we’re old and gray. Wild Hose instead refers to something less fun than beer. A wild hose is when a hose with pounds of water gushing through it, well, goes wild. Maybe someone let go of the hose. Or the hose has a mind of its own. In any case, a wild hose is not a good thing. This thing can literally whip you around and knock you out. It looked like the biggest, scariest garden snake coming to life and bucking around the fire station parking lot.
Someone has to control this mayhem. And on this Monday, it was each of the citizens academy recruits. As we suited up in our gear, we were given a quick verbal tutorial on how to control the hose. It consisted of walking up to the first cuff on the hose, getting on our hands and knees with the hose between us, and moving hand over hand until we got to the top of the hose. Sounds easy, right? Except let’s go back to that part where there’s hundreds of pounds of water gushing through it.
I felt like Katniss in The Hunger Games gearing up to be the delegate or sacrifice (confession: I’ve never watched this series. I know there’s a proper term for what she volunteered to do.) It felt like I was preparing to put my life on the line and jump on some angry, threatening beast AKA the wild hose.
We started with the smaller hose. I watched one by one as other participants went through. Some succeeding very easily, and other struggled a bit. There were no major mishaps. When it came to my turn, I put the shield down on my helmet and walked toward the eye of the beast. With the instructor behind me, I confidently-ish kneeled down and moved my hands up the hose. I think I only had to conquer 50 feet of the hose but it felt like a mile of hose. As you near the nozzle of the hose, the pressure was hard to control and I felt the hose slipping away, so I decided to use physics. The more weight you put on something, the more you can control it. So I just laid down on the hose and held on for dear life until they turned off the water.
“You broke the golden rule Rachel!” I heard as I got off the ground. I turn around to see the people controlling the water at the firetruck completely soaked. Apparently that is not what you’re supposed to do. I had also doused everyone’s cell phones laying on the front of the firetruck in water. My bad…
Next it was onto a bigger hose. Again, everyone lined up to conquer the bigger beast. If I felt like Katniss on the first drill, this was Terminator level. But to my surprise, no one was having any issue on the bigger hose. In fact, they were having an easier time with it. Confidence surged through me. If they can handle it with ease, so can I.
When it was my turn, the whole operation came to a halt and the real firefighters huddled to talk about something and then started detaching part of the hose. Apparently everyone else had about half the pressure that was supposed to pulse through the hose. I would be the first one to experience the actual pressure of the hose. Let’s just say my confidence was completely false. That hose dragged me across the parking lot and I did what I did last time: I just laid down and held on for dear life. However, I still had about 30 feet of hose ahead of me, so the hose was still wild and whipping. After a few seconds of enjoyment and laughter from the firefighters at my expense, they turned off the water. And that my friends is how I didn’t conquer the real wild hose. I was relieved when everyone after me struggled just as much.
Olivia said something really meaningful while we transitioned to another drill after the wild hose practice. She said tackling this hose is just like life. Life is this uncontrollable beast that sometimes behaves, and sometimes, it whips wildly out of control. And some days you just have to jump on and hope that as you navigate through, hand over hand, that you can eventually find the end of the tunnel (or hose) and get everything back into control. But as you’re doing this, there is water and messy things and uncomfortable situations being flung all around you. Stay on the hose, stay with the journey, and you’ll eventually get to the end. Or sometimes, you just have to lay down on the hose and hold on with all you have and just breathe through it. The important thing is to actually tackle the hose, tackle the chaos. Don’t run away from it. Don’t leave it for someone else to deal with. It’s your hose. It’s your journey.