(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.”)
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…
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…
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…
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.”
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!
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.