I'd Rather Chip in for a Dalmatian

In Big Bear Lake, the Starbucks where I’m now sitting has a display of bottled water near the cash register. “Do you want to donate a bottle of water to the firefighters?” the barista asks customers as she rings them up.

“Huh?” I replied.

“There are big wildfires they’re fighting now,” she said. “A couple of them died.”

Mountain communities are especially grateful to firefighters, and I’m sympathetic to them myself, but something seemed amiss.

“I used to cover firefighters as a reporter in the Inland Empire,” I said. “I rode along on the front lines of the Grand Prix Fire.”

“So you want to donate,” the cashier said.

“I don’t think so,” I replied.

She gave me a dirty look with my change.

What I still can’t figure is why I would donate water to firefighters by buying a single 12 ounce bottle in Starbucks — or why I would donate water of all things to firefighters at all. Isn’t it the single commodity that they always possess in great quantities? I’m starting to worry that these fires are going to take a long time indeed to put out.