Seeing Green

By Audrey W.


March 18th


John Gage sauntered into the dayroom after getting changed into uniform. It was 7:40 in the morning, just twenty minutes prior to roll call. A frown on his face, he glanced at the others in the room before heading to the stove for a cup of coffee.


“What’s wrong with you?” Mike Stoker asked, looking up from his seat at the table.


“Yeah, John, you look a little ‘green’,” Marco added.


“Don’t even say that word around me,” the paramedic groaned. He glanced at the pot of coffee as he reached in the cupboard for a cup and did a double take. Peering closer, he sighed in relief that the brew didn’t have the green tint to it that he thought it did.


Man, I’m even seein’ green where it’s not. . .


Chet Kelly looked at the others seated at the table, then addressed the paramedic. “What’sa matter? Too much Saint Patrick’s Day celebrating? You’re not even Irish!”


“I didn’t celebrate, Chet. . .well, not exactly.” He started for the table, a cup of coffee now in his right hand, but stopped when he noticed a plate of green shamrock shaped cookies in the middle of the table. Gage didn’t say a word about them so as not to give the guys more ammunition. Instead he simply stepped back and leaned against the counter.


“How can you ‘not exactly’ celebrate?” the curly haired fireman wondered.


“Yeah, Johnny,” Mike jumped in. “That’s like not exactly having a birthday.”


Everyone looked at the engineer in confusion, not sure if he’d made a point or not. They shrugged it off and continued on with the conversation.


“So how did you ‘not exactly’ celebrate?” Chet asked.


“Well, first of all, I stopped at the gas station on the way home from here yesterday morning. Turns out they were giving away free green plastic top hats with every fill-up. Well, I figured if I don’t quite fill my tank, I’m safe, right?”


The three men nodded, then shook their heads as he said, “Wrong. The manager of the place insisted I take one anyway. So I tossed it in the back of my Rover. . .I mean, I’m not into Saint Patrick’s’ Day, but rather than offend the guy. . .”


“So. . .” Marco prodded.


“So that seemed to start an avalanche of green. Not all of it pleasant.”


“Oh c’mon, Gage,” Chet chided, getting to his feet. “Where’s your holiday spirit?”


Johnny opened his mouth to answer when Roy walked into the room, causing the younger man to pause. The senior paramedic looked around when he noticed all eyes on him. “What’d I do?”


“Nothing,” Mike answered. “Johnny’s just telling us about his green day yesterday.”


“Oh.” He glanced at his partner. “It was Saint Patrick’s’ Day. It was supposed to be green.”


“A little green goes a long way, Roy.”


“Well, go on,” Roy said, pulling out a chair and sitting. “Don’t let me stop you.”


“I won’t bore you all with the details. Let’s just say that every where I went, there seemed to be a green this and a green that,” he commented with a wave of his free hand. “I even found a chunk of cheese in my refrigerator that was changing color in time for the holiday.”


The four men grimaced at the thought of moldy cheese.


“Yeah. . .exactly,” Johnny stated. “I decided to go out for lunch. I get to a local hamburger joint and what are they offering? Green milk shakes and green fries. This time I figured, hey, it’s the holiday. . .don’t fight it. So while I’m waiting to get my green food and drink, a little girl who looked awful green herself went runnin’ by on the way to the bathroom, a hand over her mouth.” He shook his head and put his coffee cup on the counter. “Have you ever seen what green milk and french fries look like when they come back up?”


The others shook their heads, not really wanting to know and hoping he wouldn’t elaborate.


“I tell ya. . .we see a lot of stuff on this job. But that’s one sight I hope I never see again. And just as she lost the battle with her stomach, the girl at the counter handed me my food. I made an old man behind me very happy when I handed him my lunch.”


“But that’s just half a day.”


“It didn’t end there, Marco. I thought it had till my neighbors invited me over for beer later in the day. Green beer with green pretzels. The tastes may be the same, but . . .uh. . .when someone loses their stomach? It’s as bad as the milk shake and fries. Gives a whole new look to green.” He clapped his hands together and stood up straight. “But, unless someone drops a bomb on me like the fire department’s gonna go to green uniforms or us driving green trucks, I think I can put yesterday behind me.”


Mike looked at the others, then slowly held up a picture in a magazine he was reading. It was of a lime green fire engine, soon to be introduced into many fire departments across the country.


Johnny leaned back against the counter in defeat, his shoulders then slouched. “I think I’m gonna be sick.”




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