By Audrey W.
Thanksgiving Day 1974
Seated on the brown leather couch, John Gage stared sullenly at the television set in the doctors’ lounge at Rampart General Hospital. He still couldn’t believe what had happened with one of the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade floats and had to see it for himself.
He actually didn’t want to see it, but curiosity had gotten the best of him. So when he and his partner Roy DeSoto had brought in a victim from their first run of the morning, Gage couldn’t help but come into the room to check on the parade’s progress.
Roy wasn’t exactly in the mood to watch the celebration taking place in New York City, curious or not, thus he’d opted to go visit another person they’d rescued a few days prior to see how the elderly woman was doing.
John sighed. There was no guarantee he was going to be in front of a television when the float was actually on camera. He just hoped his timing was right. . .maybe.
“Ah man. What’m I doin’ this to myself for?”
But he’d no sooner gotten the words out to himself when the famous hosts of the parade mentioned the feature he’d been waiting for was coming up after a brief word from a few sponsors.
Well, now’s your chance, he thought to himself. You can make a break for it and not hafta look.
However, he was still seated a minute and a half later when the broadcast returned to the festivities in New York City.
Gage sat forward, his elbows resting on his knees, as he peered closer. The float he’d not been waiting for was just in view behind the tail end of a marching band.
“Well, where’s the. . .”
His words trailed off when he caught sight of it after a gap behind the other.
The cameras then focused completely on the first one, which featured a few of the better known characters from Sesame Street and the actors who played on the show alongside them, singing the song ‘Small World’.
“Can’t your float move any faster? I mean. I’m sure you’re makin’ a whole slew of kids at home happy right now, but the world’s not as small as ya think an’ there’s a lot more waiting for you down the street.”
He glanced up at the clock on the wall. He’d already been in front of the TV for just over ten minutes. His luck on not having to leave was probably close to running out.
His gaze back on the screen, the paramedic thought to himself, Man, I wasn’t too crazy about this song in the first place. Now I’m likin’ it less.
As the song finished, the float disappeared off screen and here came the one he’d been anxious to see and not see at the same time.
Roy got up from the chair the recovering elderly lady had insisted he sit on not far from her bed.
“I guess I’d better go find my partner. Thank you again, Mrs. Page. I’ll be sure and share your words of wisdom with him.”
She smiled. “You be sure and do that. And don’t you ever forget what I told you.”
“No ma’am. I won’t. I don’t think Johnny will, either.”
With the handie talkie in one hand, he grabbed the back of the plastic chair with the other and pulled it over by a wall. He then headed for the door. As he opened it, he turned to face the lady, a slight smile still on his face.
“I hope you can have a happy Thanksgiving despite being here.”
“Oh don’t you worry about me. Remember, my son and daughter-in-law will be here later, along with my two grandkids. As long as we’re together, that’s what counts.”
Roy gave a nod and left, the door closing behind him.
The senior paramedic knew where he could find Gage, he just wasn’t sure he wanted to yet. He made his way downstairs via the elevator, then paused once he was just outside the doctors’ lounge.
He sighed as he thought about going to the nurses’ lounge for a cup of coffee first. Then Mrs. Page’s words came to mind again. She was right.
He pushed the door open.
John took in the float that featured the person he had least wanted to see represent paramedics in the public eye again. It had been over two years since the first time, when the program was still in its infant stages. Paramedic Tom Wheeler had become the favorite subject of a local reporter then and even the simplest rescue of him getting a little girl’s finger unstuck from her tricycle had made the newspaper. Meanwhile Gage and DeSoto had gone on a few daring ventures that went unnoticed, despite John’s efforts to draw attention to them. It wasn’t until the two rescued a little girl stuck in a well for hours that he realized publicity wasn’t as big of a deal as he’d thought.
But now, here was Wheeler back in the limelight in the Macy’s Parade on a float that featured a life-sized replica of a rescue squad and two other firemen, one a captain. It just wasn’t sitting well with the dark haired paramedic from Station 51.
The paramedic program was starting to catch on in other parts of the country after its success early on in California. Since the practice had begun in Los Angeles, it was only logical a paramedic from the area be featured on the float bringing them to national attention. Both Roy and John had expected one of the first paramedics to be selected, and being that Roy was in the first class and helped train the second, it would be him. But with Wheeler’s face already all over the news archives, he became the focus of the parade detail.
He watched with a dissatisfied frown as Wheeler waved to the families lined up along the sides of the route. They in turn waved excitedly to him and the others. But before John knew it, the float was moving again, right off the screen.
Gage glanced at his watch.
He was only on for a minute?
The door to the room opened and his gaze shifted to the new arrival. Roy came in and with eyebrows raised asked, “Well?”
“Ya missed it. It was just on.”
“How’d he do?”
Gage shrugged. “All right. He looked happy enough. He waved. That was all he had to do. Man, I still think it shoulda been you.”
“It’s okay. Let Wheeler have his moment in the spotlight again. This is good for the fire department and the paramedic program no matter who represents both.”
“True, but Roy--.”
“What really matters,” the other cut him off, “is the lady I just left, the one whose life we saved last shift and the others like her that are alive today because what we do works. You know as well as I do, we aren’t in this for the accolades. That’s just a bonus when a victim we helped or someone who knows them let’s us know we’re appreciated.”
“Mrs. Page?” John questioned.
Roy nodded. “She reminded me of what we pretty much already knew. We just needed to hear it I guess.”
“I guess so.” The dark-haired paramedic got to his feet with a sigh. “Well, you ready to blow this popsicle stand? Maybe the guys can use our help getting the turkey ready to bake.”
As they headed into the corridor, Roy playfully chided with a smile, “Besides, who remembers the details about those floats once they’ve gone by anyway?”
When it features a song you hear at least a dozen times every time you visit Disneyland, who can for get it? Gage thought to himself.
This was inspired by the picture. :o)
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