There are two things that are universally beloved: cute babies and the fire department. And the Anderson city council meeting had plenty of both.
“I’m gonna ask Chief Bratcher to come up with his wife,” Mayor Terence Roberts beckoned the interim fire chief to the stage.
City staff, meanwhile, wheeled around in front to ogle the talkative toddler bouncing on his dad’s knee.
“Sometimes we get so busy and the chief was doing such a good job being the interim chief, we kind of forgot to recognize him,” the mayor smiled sheepishly.
“I’m going to do the oath of office and I think his wife is going to have a role in this too.”
He looked down at his script and quoted the oath. “I do solemnly swear–”
“I–” began the chief before his quick-thinking wife nudged him to raise his hand. Immediately, he sprung his right arm upward. The mayor was right: she saved the swearing-in!
After accepting his badge and shaking hands with the city council, the chief invited eight of his men to the front for their own promotions. The baby gurgled and cooed while they all stood silently and were pinned with their shimmering badges.
Now came an interesting assembly line: with eight council members plus four city employees, a whopping 96 handshakes were performed in the space of minutes. The microphones picked up a rapid-fire volley of “congratulations, congratulationscongratucongratcongrats.”
If they could handle that onslaught, they can certainly handle a three-alarm blaze.
As the mass of family, friends, and–tragically–the baby mobbed the exit, the police chief strode to the lectern. He had his eyes on a new set of wheels or two.
“The Interceptor is very handy,” he praised his preferred secondhand purchase. “It’s something different from what we already have. That vehicle will be equipped with lights and a siren.”
His other wish list item was a Dodge Ram. “That vehicle will be an unmarked vehicle,” he explained. (Oh, crap–should I have printed that? Forget I said Dodge Ram. It’s…a Suburu Outback. Yeah.)
“The old cars that you put up for auction,” Council Member Beatrice Thompson raised her hands quizzically, “is anybody buying those?”
The chief let out a light chuckle. “Yes, ma’am. I’m really surprised. We had one of the cars and I drove it from the PD on its last journey. I gave it some gas and it coughed.”
Council members laughed. Then the chief hit them with the punch line. “I believe that car sold at auction for $1,300. I was amazed.”
Murmurs of astonishment flitted across the room. I’m surprised as well: a sentient, coughing police car?! I’d empty my savings account for that modern-day Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
But it was the fire department that had the last word.
“We’ve had interest from citizens about the Veterans Parade,” city manager Linda McConnell reported to the council. “You will remember the group that normally put on the Veterans Parade was unable to do so last year. Our own Fire Chief Randy Bratcher rallied the troops and the parade went off without a hitch.”
Apparently, all that previous time spent not being sworn in was put to good use because, she disclosed, “Randy and his group are once again spearheading that effort, which is scheduled for Sunday, November 5.”
To reassure citizens, she added, “the chief’s wife is assisting with that as well.”
Whew! The parade is in capable hands, indeed.