The Project

By Audrey W.




December 2nd, 197? at Station 51


Roy Desoto opened his locker and pulled out a large brown paper bag. After setting it on the bench nearby and peeking inside to double check that he had everything he needed, he picked up the sack again and held it in one hand as he pushed open the door to the apparatus bay with the other.


It had been a very busy day with rescue calls and Roy, along with the other men of A-shift, was more than ready for some down time after having finally gotten a chance to finish lunch at two-o’clock in the afternoon.


I hope the guys go for this. . .




Roy set the sack on the table in the dayroom, drawing the attention of his shiftmates. His partner John Gage was the first to peer inside, while Marco, Mike and Chet stood by and waited for Gage’s reaction to clue them in.


“What’re you doing with all this stuff?” Johnny asked, glancing at Roy, then into the bag again. “No offense, but if this is for when we watch a movie later, I like my popcorn warm.”


Roy shook his head. “It’s not to eat.”


Gage wore a baffled expression. “Then what’s it for?”


“Yeah, Roy,” Chet joined in. “What else is popcorn good for?”


The senior paramedic folded his arms across his chest and looked around at the curious faces. “Well,” he began with a gesture of his right hand, “yesterday I mentioned to Joanne that we’d be putting up the station Christmas tree today and she knows how tense our job can be at times. . .”


Johnny nodded. “Yeah, so what’s that got to do with popcorn. . .and a spool of thread and some sewing needles?” he added, once again inventorying the contents of the paper sack.


Roy shrugged. “She figured it would be good therapy for us if we strung some popcorn to trim the tree with.” Four mouths dropped open in protest as he motioned toward the still bare green tree in the corner of the room near the end of the couch. “It’s relaxing. I did it with the kids the other day.”  When he saw the still-open mouths, Roy sighed, “Look, didn’t any of you string popcorn as kids?”


“I did,” Mike stated.


“Me too,” Marco offered.


“I tried, but I ended up eating more than I put on the string,” Chet admitted.


Roy looked at Johnny, expecting his response. The younger man just shook his head.


“You didn’t?”


“Well, yeah, in grade school. But I can’t believe you’d expect us to do it now. . .as grown men.”


“You don’t have to join in. But I was reluctant when my kids suggested it and to be honest, I’d forgotten how much fun it can be.”


Mike was the first to agree and asked for thread and a needle. Seeing he was going for it, Marco joined in. Chet and Johnny just watched in disbelief as Roy quickly got a large bowl to scoop some of the popcorn in before placing it in front of the two firemen who were now seated at the table.


“You know, I think Joanne was right,” Mike stated when he had about six pieces on the string. “This is kind of fun.”


“And relaxing,” Marco added.


Chet pulled out a chair across from Marco and Mike. “I guess you can count me in.” Once he had a double-thick four-foot piece of thread and a needle like the others, he sat, placing a handful of popcorn beside him on the table and another in front of him. He then started putting the needle through the pieces one by one, each time dragging the popcorn all the way to the end of the thread to a knot.


“How come you need two piles?” Marco wondered.


“One to eat and one to string; old habits,” the curly-fireman shrugged.


“Oh, what the heck,” Johnny said with slight irritation in his voice. He reached for some thread and a needle, being careful not to poke himself, then took popcorn in his other hand and placed it on the table. Taking a seat near the bag, he threaded the needle and knotted the long double string at the end, then started putting on pieces one at the time.


Roy filled another medium bowl with popcorn and sat beside Johnny. “It’s not so bad, is it?”


“I guess not, but you know we’re never gonna live this down when C-shift comes in and asks who made the popcorn strings.”


“We can lie and say Roy’s kids made ‘em,” Mike suggested.


Chet looked over at Johnny’s project. “Is that all you’ve gotten done so far?”


“I just started!”


“Yeah, but I’m even eating in between stringing, and I’ve already got four times  as much done as you.”


Johnny grumbled and picked up the pace.


“The idea is to relax and enjoy it, not have a contest.”


“Tell him, not me, Roy.”


Mike held his up, already with ten inches of thread covered. “How’s mine look so far?”


“Almost as good as mine,” came Marco’s response.


The engineer rolled his eyes and went back to work.


In the meantime their captain, Hank Stanley, started into the room. He stopped before he even had a foot past the doorway. What in the world? 


When he saw what the men were doing, he shook his head as he quietly turned around, then headed back to his office.


At least they aren’t weaving baskets. . .yet




My husband and daughter had never strung popcorn before so I got them both to try it this year. It turned out to be a fun family project. :o) 


I found a site with this and other holiday projects:


Click above to send Audrey feedback



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