And it burns, burns, burns, that ring of fire, that ring of fire!

So, dear comrades, what you see above is what I saw out of my kitchen window this fine evening.

Let me give you a little context so you can understand the situation well: I had an extremely lazy day. No class because it was a dia de feriado. This particular holiday (a group of days, actually–it’s a four day weekend) was initiated last year by Argentina’s President, Cristina Kirchner. Officially it is El Día de la Memoria por la Verdad y la Justicia. The holiday commemorates March 24th 1976–the day of the coup d’état that brought the last, and horrific, military dictatorship to power. I’ll skip the details of the terror wrought by the junta during the period that followed because I assume most of you know how bad things were. Needless to say it merits more than a day of consideration. What follows, however, is entirely unrelated to that political history and should prove, if I write it well, a stark contrast to the utterly devastating human capacity for cruelty demonstrated by that epoch.

To the point: After many hours of procrastination and general fiaca, I decided what I needed was a little exercise. Because of the aforementioned laziness, I chose to do a little at-home workout. You know, the jog around the studio while watching internet television kind of thing. About half-way through my half-hearted workout I began to smell the fire. I assumed it was just the typical Argentine B-B-Q. The parilla is, after all, a favorite porteño pastime. But I happened, during a dull portion of ‘Californication’, to jog into the kitchen and notice a little smoke. I looked out the window only to discover not a parilla somewhere below but the flames you see above.

It seemed like the fire was awfully close to my building so I paused my internet T.V. and prepared to depart. My heart rate, mind you, was considerably elevated by what was the view from my window. Far more so than it had been during my ‘jog.’

I kept checking on the progress of the fire, though, and noticed that others in my building (and the surrounding complexes) were just calmly watching the blaze from their balconies. I heard sirens shortly thereafter and soon the bomberos had arrived and were working with a calm distraction–you see the same basic look in the faces of temp workers in cubicles.

At one moment, when I was looking down, I heard a neighbor yell: “Oye, bombero!” The firefighter responded, “Decíme.” “Hay llamas en las ramas arriba también.” “Gracias,” said the bombero and went about what was apparently the very boring business of hosing down the fire. Here’s a translation:

Neighbor: Hey, fireman!

Bombero: Tell me.

Neighbor: There are flames in the branches up here, too.

Bombero (in a completely uninterested, perhaps slightly annoyed tone): Thanks.

I closed the window and went back to the ridiculous activity of jogging around my one-room studio. And that, excluding the lingering bar-b-que smell, was it.

I guess the moral of this little story is that people go about the business of saving other people, most of the time, without much production. When circumstances aren’t extreme there seems to exist a basic, even banal, good nature in us. We can be pretty crappy creatures when things get nasty but, all in all, we aren’t averse to helping a fellow human out now and again. Or, at least, that’s what I’d like to take as the lesson of the day. It might be, however, that what I should learn from all this is that jogging is better done in a park and not a one-room apartment.

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