Title: Tedious Tasks
- Place of collection: Hanover, NH (via phone call)
- Date of Collection: November 13, 2019
- Genre: Customary Folklore – Superstition
This informant (anonymous) is a 22 year old student at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. He was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, but moved to Madison, Connecticut when he was in 8th grade. After his junior year in high school, he began as a volunteer firefighter in the Madison, Connecticut Fire Department. He volunteered with this fire department for 4 years.
Whenever a new firefighter starts at the Madison, CT fire department, there is a sort of “hazing” that goes on, in which the new member is required to complete the tedious and undesirable tasks, such as cleaning the trucks, the firehouse, and the equipment. After a couple of months, the new member assimilates fully into the department and is no longer required to do these tasks.
When a new firefighter joins the department, he/she is tasked with completing all of the tedious/undesirable tasks.
Meaning and Interpretation:
This initiation ritual, which serves as a right of incorporation, seems to be very common among fire departments. This is likely the case because it allows the new members to get acquainted with the equipment, the firehouse, and the other members in the department. Further, it is a process that all new members undertake when joining, so it creates a mutual experience among the members, which allows the members to connect.
The informant said that this process is simply something that every member has to go through, and he thinks that this shared process ultimately makes them closer as a department.