I am awakened from a sound sleep by the musical tones of my alarm. It's 4:30, the house is cold and dark. Really cold, our furnace has been broken for a few days now. I shiver in the 13C temperature, but hop from my warm bed eagerly. I have an early morning shift today, my partner is picking me up in half an hour. I guess some crazy people think it would be a good idea to 'leap' in the lake on this frosty 'leap' day, and we have to be there to make sure they don't kill themselves doing it. School has been so busy that I haven't done many shifts lately, so I welcome one now.
The trucks are cold and frosty, but we eventually get one cleaned off and head down to the waterfront. A local radio station is broadcasting their morning show live from the diner at the shore that serves as the jumping point for this insanity. The DJs are happy to see us - as they readily announce over the radio. One of them is 'leaping', he jokes that we are there just to save him. We hang around drinking our Timmies coffee and waiting for the action to start. Yes, I'm actually drinking the coffee. My first cup ever - it really is nasty stuff! After adding about 4 cream and 6 sugar, it becomes sightly more palatable. The DJs mention us several times over the next few hours as the party gets going, always thanking us for being there. It's great publicity for our organization, maybe we'll got some new volunteers out of it.
Our supervisor Roy shows up around dawn, right off his night shift with the city EMS. He hands me hot chocolate, saying he started to worry when he heard I was drinking coffee. Since he's been trying to get me to drink it for a year now, he figures something must be wrong if I've finally succumbed. Laughing, I assure him all is well, but gladly switch beverages. I'll take sugar over caffeine any day!
Roy is considering jumping, which I try to attribute to the fact that he hasn't slept in 24 hours. He's done a few polar plunges in the past though, so I must concede that he's normally nuts - sleep deprivation has nothing to do with it. He finally says "yah, I'll go for it", and I inform the DJs. They LOVE it, they simply can't get over the fact that 'the medic supervisor' is going in. They interview him live, "Ok, you're the one who is supposed to take care of people, and you're going in, so who is going to take care of you?" "What are the medical risks of doing this?" Roy is a perfect representation of the division - maintaining a professional attitude while doing something insane.
They milk it for a few more commercial breaks, then finally line up at the shore. As one DJ counts down, the other makes witty comments from the shore, always keeping up the banter. Finally they go - running and splashing through the frigid waters of the Great Lake. They dive under, since it doesn't count unless you get totally wet. Hooting and hollering as the cameras flash, they quickly turn and head for shore, readily seeking warm towels and blankets.
Nobody is the worse for wear after their dip, we weren't needed in spite of all the hype. The crowd rapidly thins as everyone heads off seeking warmer places. The diner feeds us and the radio people breakfast/lunch, then we head off as well. My partner drops me off as the furnace guy is just leaving. I walk into my rapidly warming house, appreciating every increasing degree. I crawl back into bed, snuggling deep under the layers of blankets. Relaxed and now toasty-warm, I gently slip back into a sea of dreams.