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July 30, 2013, Gravenhurst, Ont. – Is it just me or does everyone go through those phases in life when they feel like they’re just going through the motions? You get up, go to work, go home, cook dinner (well, I don’t, hubby does), do the laundry, clean the house, go to bed. Repeat the next day.

July 30, 2013 
By Jennifer Grigg

July 30, 2013, Gravenhurst, Ont. – Is it just me or does everyone go through those phases in life when they feel like they’re just going through the motions? You get up, go to work, go home, cook dinner (well, I don’t, hubby does), do the laundry, clean the house, go to bed. Repeat the next day.

I suppose that one could deduce that I live a boring life, which may or may not be true, but unless there’s a fire call or I’m doing something fun with my family, that’s how things have felt the past few weeks.

Yesterday was different, though. I started my day with the usual routine but I was out the door by 6:45 (instead of 8:10, since I live two minutes from work), and on my way to Gravenhurst, Ont., for the three-day CO/FPO 202 Leadership and Communications course at the Ontario Fire College.

Come to think of it, I strayed from my usual morning routine in another significant way. I got up before the alarm went off, as opposed to waiting for it to go off and then laying there for 20 minutes and listening to the radio. I enjoy my day job, for the most part, but I don’t exactly jump out of bed excited to be going there. Why is that I wonder?

Does the way I got up yesterday morning mean anything of significance?

I would be willing to bet that, after meeting my instructor yesterday, he would have you believe that it most certainly does.

I arrived at the college about 40 minutes before class started. I checked in, gathered my books from my car and went to class. I was the only one in the classroom, but noticed that one other classmate had left books on one of the desks. I will admit – but only to those who read this – that I went over and had a quick look at my classmate’s open binder to make sure I was in the right classroom. Confident that I was in the right place, I picked a spot and parked myself there.

I watched as people filed in but I didn’t know anyone, and then a familiar face entered the classroom from my FPO 501 course last month, and she came and sat beside me. (Thank goodness, because I was sitting at the second table from the door, and everyone kept walking past me to sit at the other desks . . . it was like a reverse Forrest Gump thing; no one wanted Forrest to sit with them on the bus, and then, like a ray of golden sun, there was Jenny . . . Anyway, I was starting to get a complex.)

As the class got settled, the instructor (I won’t mention any names but he’s from King Township and his last name rhymes with tape) had us interview the people next to us and prepare to introduce them to the rest of the class. I am always interested in hearing where everyone is from and whether they are volunteer or full time, suppression or prevention. Call me a geek, but I think it’s neat when you find that you have things in common with people in the class (OK, aside from the obvious we’re-all-part-of-the-fire-service thing.)

What I learned yesterday was that the guy whose book I took a peek at, along with the fella sitting beside him, are both fire inspectors with Mississauga Fire. Hmm . . . slight connection there . . . (for any of you who don’t know, I was there once . . . and not just to visit), there is also a fella who’s Midland Fire, which is 20 minutes from where I currently live and where I was born and raised (and couldn’t get on as a volunteer, but I harbour no resentment whatsoever about the fact that they didn’t want me for whatever reason . . . can’t imagine why, but nonetheless), there’s a female firefighter from Niagara Falls who is expecting her second child in about seven weeks (I, too, attended a course at the fire college while seven months pregnant with my second child – I recall going to karaoke night with my classmates and singing Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” and, another commonality, I’ve always wanted to be a full-time firefighter and I am in awe of all full timers, but especially women, because it’s something I haven’t been able to accomplish.) And there’s a fella from Severn Township and that’s a bordering municipality to mine, so it’s kinda like, “Howdy neighbour!” despite the fact that his hall and my hall are at opposite ends of our townships so we’ll never meet on a call anyway but still . . .

I’ve also gotten to know my classmates who now make the entity known as Group 1. Well, kinda sorta. I don’t know all of their names, but I know where they’re from – Grimsby, Kitchener, Hamilton Township, and Severn. (There’s actually one more and I feel like a goof because I don’t know where he’s from but I promise to make a point of finding out first thing today.)

For those of you I haven’t mentioned, I apologize (or you’re welcome, depending on how you look at things). I’ll try harder today.

I’m actually impressed at how much I recall from yesterday because I was so cold in the classroom that when we did our winter plane-crash scenario, it felt more like role playing than strategizing.

Since I totally wandered off topic and completely digressed from my jumping-off point about the way I greeted the day yesterday morning, I’ll wrap it up with this – I think (way too much at times) that our illustrious leader for this compelling course in leadership and communications would say something like this about the way my day started: How you do anything is how you do everything.

Jennifer Mabee is a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario. She began her fire career with the Township of Georgian Bay in 1997 and became the department's fire prevention officer in 2000 and a captain in 2003. She was a fire inspector with the City of Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services before taking time off to focus on family, and is excited to be back at it. E-mail her at and follow her on Twitter at @jenmabee.

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