If you told me 18 years ago that I would be selling fireworks with my piano teacher for a week, I probably would’ve quit taking lessons and started running in the other direction screaming.
You see, I’ve always had a fear of fireworks. We’ll call it pyrotechnophobia. Don’t get me wrong…I love to look at them, but they just about scare me out of my skin when I hear them explode.
It all begin when I was about 4 or 5 years old when my family took a trip to Cincinnati for a Reds game. When the Reds scored a home run, everybody would be excited but me. No, I was the one with my fingers in my ears screaming and crying at the fireworks being let off. My parents tried to get me to understand that they only let them off when they score, but even when we went back for another game later on in the season, I sat through the whole game with my knees up in the seat and my hands over my ears. I was traumatized.
There was a pitiful picture taken from that evening that still makes everyone laugh. You can see my mom trying to feed me a hotdog while I have my hands cupped over my ears. It’s just precious. [Sidenote: I’ve searched and searched for this picture and have no idea where it is.]
You’d think my fear of fireworks would’ve just disappeared as I got older, but unfortunately, my condition only worsened during my freshman year of college. I had just made it through my first pre-game experience as a piccolo player in the UK Marching Band. We were all lined up for the football players to run out from the tunnel and I was the third person down in the very front. I was all pumped to play the fight song when a man came up to me and the guy next to me and said, “We just wanted to warn you…it might get just a little bit loud in a second.”
Ok, no problem. I can handle loud…but what I can’t handle is unforeseen fireworks about 20 yards away from me.
When they let the first one off, I cowered and started shaking uncontrollably while I tried to play “On, On U of K.” Tears streamed down my face. Steve, my favorite Asian next to me, jumped about 10 feet in the air. There’s video footage somewhere that needs to be shipped to America’s Funniest Home Videos.
So needless to say, when I was told the Bob Brown House was going to be working a fireworks tent for a week as a fundraiser, I was a little bit hesitant to volunteer. But when I realized how much it was going to help our organization, I was all in.
I started my temp volunteer job on Monday, June 25. The first day, it poured the rain and there was practically a river running through the middle of the tent. We unloaded boxes, had pricing races with guns, ate pizza, and set up everything. When I got home, I was looking forward to going back the next day.
Tuesday: I sat in a lawn chair just chatting it up with my piano teacher for a long time. Her adorable mother (whom we all call Grandma) brought us noodle soup and other random things for lunch. Then her daughter and a friend of hers came and we talked about marching band the rest of the afternoon. Easy as pie.
Wednesday: I don’t remember much about this day except for the fact that they had moved a couch into the tent…a reclining couch at that!
Thursday: This is where the story gets exciting. *Cue homeless man who lives in the abandoned gas station next door.* I’m all about helping the homeless and showing the love of Jesus, but this guy was a character and a half. He wanted us to shoot off a fountain with a pretty girl standing behind it in the middle of New Circle Road to drum up business. Um, no. Then he sat in one of our chairs and left a poop stain on it. Not cool.
Friday & Saturday: I don’t remember much except the fact that we were super busy…and some other man peed on our tent. The last time I checked, I thought our sign said we were a fireworks tent, not a public restroom, but maybe I was just reading it wrong.
So. Here’s the big one. It’s Monday, July 4. Happy Independence Day, y’all. I come into the tent at 11 a.m. and my piano teacher says that the homeless man has been shooting bottle rockets at her all morning. A fireman came and took his ammo and told her if he did anything else like that to call the Fire Dept.
12:30 rolls around and Grandma has brought us a baked spaghetti concoction, bread, and corn on the cob. We’re just minding our own business when we hear the loudest boom ever. I’m talking about a Commonwealth Stadium-sized boom. I felt like I should start playing the fight song.
As I tried to quit shaking and act like I wasn’t scared out of my skin, Grandma spots the drunk hobo running to the edge of New Circle Road with another explosive. She’s giving us a play-by-play when he lets off another loud boom. At this point, I was ready to run to my car and drive off, but by the grace of God and for the sake of our charity, I stood around. And he let off another one.
Long story short, my fingers were flying as I googled the fire department’s number on my phone. He let off another loud one about 100 feet from our tent while we were on the phone with the dispatcher and the police came instantaneously. Three cop cars and a paddy-wagon later, our little friend was escorted off to the slammer.
Business was booming the rest of the day…even without our homeless man’s marketing ploy. But this piano player is still a little scared of fireworks. Hope you had a happy 4th!