When it comes to strange packages from Canada, you can’t be too safe

(As part of the second round of competition for The Public Blogger’s Performance of the Year award, we have been asked to submit a piece on “Community” or “Family” to be voted on this Sunday at 7 p.m. I’ll be posting about my firefighting family. We also must post two additional pieces on the Public Blogger’s Facebook page between now and Sunday. In keeping with my theme, I’ve chosen this post inspired by a package sent a while back by my friend Ross Murray. You probably remember when it happened. It was the first time the Terrorist Threat Level was raised to “Keylime.”)

I was taking no chances; as far as I knew, Canada may have stopped being our ally during my walk home...
I was taking no chances; as far as I knew, Canada may have stopped being our ally during my walk home…

The afternoon started out like any other: leave the office, walk two blocks home, pass through our white picket gate toward the front steps, then holler “EVERYBODY STAY IN THE HOUSE” while dropping into an army crawl. Naturally, no one at home had any interest in coming outside until I yelled for them NOT to — at which point three of our children and both dogs attempted to squeeze through the doorway simultaneously, closely resembling a horde of diarrhea sufferers trying to de-board a subway car for the last working restroom.

“STOP!” I commanded, freezing them all — yes, even the dogs — on the porch, just inches away from a small white package with the word Liquid written in several places in black marker. The name on the return address wasn’t one I immediately recognized. The fact that it was from a foreign country (Canada) made it even more suspicious.

“Every one inside,” I said, explaining that I was going to open the package somewhere safe, away from the general population and in full firefighting gear.

My wife blew me a kiss and said something in her sweetest voice; and because I knew it could be the last time I heard it, her words resonated with extra meaning:

I’ll heat up the leftovers.

Wrapping the mysterious package in my coat, I arrived at the station a few minutes later. There, I could safely open the package without being a danger to anyone other than myself. This is actually a pretty routine scenario for me…

Standing outside of Station 2 with the Package of Mystery (white box)
Standing outside of Station 2 with the Package of Mystery (white box)

The next step was to decide on what is known in the fire service as an “initial entry” tool — something to breach the obstruction inhibiting us from eliminating the true source of danger. In this case, it was a 1/4-inch skin of slightly damp cardboard. After careful consideration, I felt a fire axe was the best tool for the job…

A firefighter's friend. Unless he drops it on his foot.
A firefighter’s friend. Unless he drops it on his foot.

I then found what I felt was the weakest point in the package, which had been meticulously wrapped in thick tape to ensure whatever was inside wouldn’t leak out during its long journey from foreign soil to my heavily fertilized yard. I lined my axe with the breach point…

Kids, don't do this at home. Ever again.
Kids, don’t do this at home. Ever again.

As expected, the box immediately EXPLODED! Or at least there was a loud pop. Probably caused by the bubble wrap. Inside was a metal can with its contents written on the front in a strange language: Sirop d’erable. Due to my years as a chef, and a limited knowledge of French, I deduced it either translated to “terrible soup” or “canned poutine.”

I don't speak fluent French, but I think I know
I don’t speak fluent French, but I think I know “terrible soup” when I see it.

That’s when I noticed the label was also written in English on the back — and suddenly it all made sense: REAL MAPLE SYRUP! From my friend and fellow blogger, Ross Murray! In Canada!

Think of how much time I could have saved if I just knew how to read French!
Think of how much time I could have saved if I just knew how to read French!

Now that the crisis is over, I’d like to thank Ross for sending my this can of delicious 100 percent pure maple syrup. I’d also like to ask my captain to please destroy the footage captured by our station’s security camera. If necessary, I’ll even make a pancake breakfast.

But you’re not getting any of my syrup.



(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

56 thoughts on “When it comes to strange packages from Canada, you can’t be too safe”

        1. The Royals don’t have a chance – you might as well give them a taste of that delicious maple syrup. as a consolation prize. 😀

  1. The ending came as such a relief; I was sweating it when your wife exclaimed she would reheat leftovers. I’m so glad that wasn’t a metaphor…

  2. Your aging yourself you know, since the bubble wrap still “popped “. Ps, I know I’m not getting any syrup, since I’m still waiting for my pastry. It’s okay, I’ll take the early morning laugh over the calories anyway.

  3. I’m a Canadian and our Quebecois maple syrup is the bomb. Nothing can beat that sh*t. And the best part is pouring freshly made syrup on snow and eating it. (Not on yellow snow though lol)

    Good grief. 😛

  4. First it’s friendly words on the internet, then some maple syrup. Next it’ll be an offer of hockey tickets and a case of Moosehead. Then you find yourself moving north and taking Politeness 101 courses, and the conversion is complete. It’s an insidious plot by those wily Canucks to take over and convert the US, one person at a time…..
    On another note, a firefighter friend of mine was telling me he went out on a call, and they found a closed door inside a building blocking their way. As the other two firefighters raised their axes, about to smash in the door and destroy it, my friend suggested they first check the door knob and see if it was unlocked. Which it was……

No one is watching, I swear...

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