Dillon's Firehose Date

Dillon's Firehose Date

Dillon’s Firehose Date

When you’re a filmmaker, actor or an artist of any kind, you work all sorts of jobs. When your dreams are bigger than your place in this world, you work for the dream.

If you believe what you do at your job does not matter, stop here. If you’re continuing with me and believe how you do your job matters, then stay with me.

I can’t begin to remember the infinite number of jobs I’ve had through the years. Today the past came chasing me down like a kaleidoscope filled with reflections of those bridges to the future. I was breathlessly reminded of one of those jobs and a young man, Dillon. The memory transported me to that very spot when I overheard a young man say something as I passed him on the street. 

“I’m not working there, it’s not a real job.“ Speaking into his cell phone and into my ears, his comment made me think about Dillon. It was not the words that were spoken into the cell phone, it was the tenor in his voice, a longing for purpose I heard. 

I met Dillon when I worked at Duluth Trading Company in the returns department. As returns come in, crews of people would stand in a 12-inch square on a polished concrete floor in front of hip-high tables. When possible, one or more of us would reallocate floor mats from unoccupied areas of the warehouse. Having those old worn out mats beneath our feet was a reprieve, a thankful comfort on our feet, knees and back by days end. At the tables we would clean returned garments to be sent back for retail sale or to the Duluth Trading Outlet Store. Sometimes people would return garments that were reduced to slivers of ribbons. Older employees thought returns like that were ridiculous and those entitled, negative-energy people had no respect for themselves or the company, regardless of the guarantee.   

Dillon and I engaged in mostly shallow conversation for more than half the day until I asked him what he was doing for the weekend. He said he was going on a second date with a girl and he was nervous. I said. “Nervous is good, it keeps us sharp.”

He said, “I just might cancel.”

I asked, “Why would you do that?”

“I’m embarrassed,” he said as he was cleaning a pair of Firehose pants.

I asked, “Is it something you can talk about?” He said, “Well, our first date was not really a date. It was an accidental meeting with friends so the question of what I do for a living did not come up, but it will be just us tonight, and it will be asked.” 

“I’m not getting what the issue is”, I said. 

He was slightly animated when he said. “Look at us, man, we clean shit off of clothes what is that? Girls aren’t looking for guys with a job like this.” 

His words just floated in the air with a hollow emptiness. This young man didn’t know he was a visitor here and what does he really know about love, relationship love, and true love. To make the journey in this life and not fall so deeply in love that your feet never touch the ground. That is the end goal of any life worth living, at least once in a life. He was listening with his head and not his heart. I didn’t know what I was going to tell him, if anything. I could see he was hurting, so I told him a story. 

“Do you realize what you’re doing here?” I asked. 

Dillon answered tersely giving me an incredulous look saying, “Cleaning clothes, man!” 

I smiled slightly and told him. “That is a very small part of what you’re really doing. You see those Firehose pants you’re working on; they are going into the outlet store because of the stain you’re not going to be able to remove on the left pocket. They will be considerably discounted thanks to you. A couple weeks from now in the early morning hours a young woman, Molly, will be driving to work an hour earlier for her waitress job. She worked that out two weeks ago so she can leave work early. Her husband Tommy had a very rough childhood and it was weighing heavy on him that morning. Molly had no idea Tommy was distraught.”

Tomorrow will be this young woman’s husband’s birthday, his first birthday as newlyweds. She knew what she wanted and had been looking for weeks at the Duluth Trading Outlet Store for a pair of Firehose Desert Khaki pants.

I asked, Dillon what size are the pants?” 

Dillon paused looking at the tag, “34x32.” 

“Yes.” I declared with excitement. “34x32 is what she has been looking for. So those pants are going to be put on the shelf minutes before she arrives at the store.

This couple has been saving to buy what will be their first home so their money is tight. She has already baked a cake and made his favorite Mac & cheese dish with blue cheese of all things. Those pants you hold in your hands are the only gift he will receive because of their promise to each other to stay on budget. What Molly thought was amazing luck was not luck; it was pure fate. So the pants that you hold are now in her hands and they are going to be given as a birthday gift to her husband.”

Dillon, “What happened?”

“Tommy was delighted to have his new to him pants as a few guys on the crew swear by them. The next morning he did not wear his new pants or notice what I saw you do earlier when you took a permanent marker and signed your name inside of the pants.” 

Dillon, “It’s just a joke…” 

“It’s all good Dillon. Tommy brought them with him to put on at the end of his work that day. Molly insisted that they were clean when they were going to take a company picture for the website. But Tommy had made a life altering decision; he never made it to work that day.” 

Dillon, “Why?” 

“Tommy took a back road because the main road was going to have construction delays. It was still dark as he was going way above the speed limit, when he came upon a car in the ditch. Tommy sees what appears to be a woman’s leg hanging out the driver’s side of the open door. He immediately gets on his cell phone but there is no cell network. When he gets down to the car the woman is crying, screaming, “my baby, my baby!” Tommy looks around for her baby then realizes she is pregnant. Her baby was going to be delivered right there and now. Tommy quickly and gingerly moved her to the back of his car. With no knowledge, but great confidence, delivered the baby thanks to the mother’s guidance. Tommy wrapped the shivering newborn in his Firehose pants and laid this new baby boy on the mother’s chest.” 

Dillon, “Then what?” 

“About 2 weeks later a package arrives from the women that had the baby. There was a brand new pair of Firehose pants, size 34X32, and a note that read. “I can’t thank you enough for stopping that morning and what I believe, you saved a life.“ 

Signed, Jael

Dillon, “Was that it?” 


Dillon, “Well?” 

“A year later on a Sunday morning the couple gets a phone call from a realtor. The realtor invites them to an open house on the other side of town. When they arrive there is no sales sign outside. They go up to the door and are greeted by the realtor. Her name was Joanna. It was a small, empty three-bedroom house.

Joanna said, “Please look around and make your way to the second bedroom. There is something on the wall that explains why you’re here.”

“Tommy and Molly walk down the hall and into the room and on the wall is a glass-framed pair of Firehose pants with an inscription, “Dillon’s first pair of pants.” 

Dillon, “Wait a minute those are the pants… the pants I have here and the baby’s name is Dillon?”

“Just listen to the story. Joanna is at the door behind them and says. “Yes those are the pants you wrapped Dillon in on the side of the road that day.” 

The couple turns asking, “What’s going on here?” 

Joanna says with deep emotion. “About two months ago, Dillon and his mom, my sister Jael, were driving at night when a drunk driver hit them head on. Jael died instantly and Dillon passed a few hours later.” 

Molly broke down and cried. Joanna said, “When you delivered Dillon that very next day my sister put this house in her will for you. My sister told me what you said to her that morning. She prayed for you Tommy. You remember?” 

Tommy stood silent, welling up.

“Tommy, what is it. What’s wrong?” 

“When I was wrapping the baby up inside the pants I saw the name Dillon hand written. I said to her I had seen this old TV show Gunsmoke. Marshall Dillon seemed like a good man and he would be a good father. Maybe I will be a good father someday despite my past.

Tommy pulls the glass-frame off the wall. Holding it he says, “I told your sister she saved my life that morning I…

”Joanna, “she knew Tommy. She told me she could see your future life in your eyes and that you turned a corner that morning. She knew that morning those pants would bring us together today. My sister had Clairsentience. Do you know what that is? 


Joanna said, “My sister said it was a gift. She had the ability to sense emotions and feelings, including a person’s past and future No measure of time will make her light fade. She said you knew the true light in people.

“That note Jael sent last year when she said “You saved a life.” She was talking about you, Tommy, wasn’t she?”

“Yes, I’m okay honey, I am. Joanna, your sister…” 

Joanna, “She knows Tommy.”

The three of them embraced.

Dillon asked, “Is there any truth in that story? It’s just weird you’re telling me this now today of all days.”

“Dillon, this is what should be true to you. Tonight Dillon, live in your wheelhouse, don’t ever be job shamed. When you tell this girl what you do, and if she stays, love her unconditionally. If she goes, she was not yours to love.   




San Francisco

A young girl calls out into night reaching for help.

It was approximately 11:20 p.m. I was lying in my comfortable bed, ready to fall fast asleep, when I noticed my phone had not rung all evening. It was one of those phone-radio all-in-one combination phones. I reached over to the nightstand and picked up the receiver. There were voices emanating from the phone receiver. Thinking it was odd playing through my phone, I wondered if it was an option that came with the phone or was I dreaming. I put the receiver to my ear and listened for a moment, and realized that a call-in radio talk show was coming through my radio phone receiver. I now was more personally connected than if it was just playing on the radio.

I propped up my pillows and prepared myself for what would be my first time listening to one of these self-help radio shows. Dr. Browne, a psychiatrist, introduced herself and gave a toll-free number to call in. The name of the game was “entertainment through the exploitation of human misery.” Dr. Browne then took a caller and said, “Hello, “You’re on KGO!” There was silence,... and then the caller said in a young, trembling whisper, “I would like to talk…”

“Go ahead,” the doctor said encouragingly.

“Could you wait just a minute?” asked the voice over the phone.

“Yes,” the doctor let out a deep sigh.

The caller sounded like a very young girl who was frightened. I could hear her set the phone down, and then footsteps scurry across a hard floor and a door open. The girl lowered her voice until it was barely audible.

“Is anyone coming?”

A different female voice told her to go ahead, but to keep her voice down. I heard the door close. She made her way back to the phone and said, “Hello.”

“Go ahead.” Dr. Browne urged. The girl hesitated and then in a quivering voice said, “I would like to talk about incest.”

When I heard this, my throat tightened up. I had no idea what she was going to say.

“What would you like to say about incest?” The doctor asked.

As the girl started to tell her story, her voice cracked. “When I was four, my grandfather molested me, when I was eight, my brother molested me and, at twelve, my father molested me.”

At this point, I was horrified and feeling more personally involved. Here I was eavesdropping on a private conversation thinking I should call the police, but where is she?

Dr. Brown then asked, “How old are you?”


“Is your mother around to talk to?” The doctor seemed concerned.


“Where are you living?” probed Dr. Browne.

“Oh...around.” She sounded so lost.

“How do you support yourself?” The doctor inquired inquisitively.

“I...sell myself.” There was such anguish in the girl’s voice.

“Where are you calling from?” the doctor said abruptly.


“What’s your name?” the doctor asked slowly.

“Cecelia” she said with assurance.

Dr. Brown said, “Cecelia, I’m going to give you some phone numbers to call in your area for help.”

There was a noise in the background, and a female voice frantically said, “He just drove up! Get off the phone!”

Cecelia, shaken, said, “I have to go now.”

The doctor quickly said, “Take these numbers down.”

Cecelia despairingly said, “I must go. Good bye.”

At this point, I’m screaming into the phone, “Don’t let her go! Don’t let her go!”

There was silence over the phone, then Doctor Browne said. “You’re on KGO.”

Today Cecelia would be 52. Many nights after that call I would pick up my phone and listen to the silence. I’m not sure what I would have done even if I had the chance. It took months for Cecelia’s voice to fade from my memory, though I think back upon that day often, especially when I use a landline.  I like to  think of Cecelia as a sweet delicate bird that would take flight one day. I hope her wings found a new home. I hope her life is now filled with peace. I hope she has found true love. I hope her past has not taken her life from her.

Frank G. Caruso