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There is a reason I’ve been delaying this piece until the floral mania is over. This was not a normal M-Day, this was basically a floral mayday call. The reason will become rapidly apparent if you have read my previous posts.
This year, the crew was the Steel Rose; lead florist and fearless leader, Silence; IT guy and assistant manager (and son of Steel Rose), a new assistant florist from a family of florists – let’s call her Bumblebee, myself, and an old friend of mine and coworker, who is a safety professional and ordained minister – let’s call him the Rev. We also had a former bank teller for half a day Thursday. That’s it. The bottled water delivery guy who offered to show up was a no-show. This was the leanest crew they had ever run with – the Rev and I did 90% of the deliveries.
This was also Prom weekend for the local high school. Did I mention that there were multiple large funerals needing to be delivered? Yeah, this was going to get interesting.
Thursday morning I staggered downstairs, stomach striving in vain to turn itself inside out and spontaneously combust. I load up the first order with the ex-teller, and promptly pull an abdominal muscle. I am delaying the delivery because I feel like I’m trying hara-kiri. This is not a promising start to the morning. Fortunately, the ex-teller is understanding. We make the deliveries after I can move, and I developed a new technique to get in the car (lead with the head, then use arms to swing my legs and body inside) that avoids stressing the area. Some Gatorade and a bismuth subsalicyclate chaser kept my stomach under control. The day goes on, and eventually the teller leaves. Meanwhile, an idiot McDonalds employee got Silence sick – putting cheese on the “non-dairy” breakfast burrito. So the store’s delivery team is far from healthy. Fortunately, Silence could probably deliver flowers easier than sleeping. We talk about various geek stuff while running the remaining deliveries, then I spend the evening organizing paperwork from the store.
Friday introduces the dynamic duo for this event. I’ve known Silence since the mid-2000s – we were on College Republicans together – but I’ve known the Rev since 1994. We went to high school and did Ag labor together. He was there when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. He got me a job when I needed one, and I trained Silence to be my replacement. The Rev and I make a great team. I was back at full strength and began calling various recipients to make sure they are home. Most are not. To be blunt, this morning is a blur of order deliveries and making up song lyrics for street names: e.g. “Myyyyy Shabbona” “Du. Du Pont. Du pont mich”
We arrive back for pizza at lunch and get back to orders in 10 minutes. Now, it’s time to head to neighboring towns for delivery. This was a long trip, especially since our phones got no reception. I look for a map in the car for a map in vain, before the Rev manages to get enough signal to get a route. This gives us plenty of time on country roads to talk philosophy and talk about what we might do the next time we meet up. Eventually, arrive back at the store around 6 PM, a 10-hour day done. I set Google Maps to download the entire delivery area to my phone for offline use. I watch some geeks joke about woke culture with Silence for a few hours, post my advice on flower deliveries, and then crash.
Saturday began early with two funerals, one needing to arrive at 8 AM. Funerals involve multiple large arrangements, and are one of the biggest sources of business for the store. I run them over with Silence before the Rev and I start tag-teaming the process of calling the recipients to make sure they were home. We have mixed results: in one case, we ended up calling one person half a dozen times from 9 AM onward, and even tried to deliver without success at 4:30 PM. However, despite the recipient being named Elsa, I refused to let it go. We ended up handing off the flowers over a fence at the high school parking lot. (Thankfully she tipped us!) We then took a set of orders that had not been called to check in. Our first one led to a non-existent address. It went 211, then 217, with no 215. We went to call the store, but my phone had no signal and the Rev’s phone had suddenly been deactivated. Our next delivery was actually a long way away. By the time we got back, it was revealed that the house was 205 and the recipient was not home.
It was lunchtime, so the Rev and I ducked out for Arby’s and Dairy Queen. The Rev and I always used to hang out at the Dairy Queen in high school, so it was a throwback to earlier days, with old friends. (ave atque vale to our mutual friend the Fox, crazy as he was Christian. May he frolic forever in the fields of Heaven) We arrived back refreshed by unhealthy food and took on yet more orders. I ran out of space on my order route log and had to get a new one. Then Silence ran to take another funeral in the main delivery van – which had my phone and all my maps. The second delivery van was in a difficult spot, so the Steel Rose herself had to find it with the Rev. I ended up handling a bunch of pickup orders, including a delivery order who was extremely abusive to me. This became more understandable when the Steel Rose mentioned the lady had just been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Eventually, it came time for the last deliveries of the day – nursing homes. Now these are usually easy, as the recipient is not going anywhere. However, our first nursing home was excessively frustrating. I went to be buzzed in, but no one was at the desk. A well-meaning resident saw my predicament and was trying to wheel himself to the door, which was naturally alarmed. I waved him off and went to another door, where at least I was able to talk with someone. A number of people began milling around near the door, none buzzing the door. Finally, a nurse directed me to place the arrangement on a table so they could get it. Why they could not open the door for 30 seconds to receive the order, I have no idea. Fortunately, the others were easier to deliver, once we figured where they went in the vast senior complex with various levels of help.
Finally, it was over. We arrived back at 5:30 PM after another 10 hour day. As we sit exhausted, drinking ice water in the now-closed flower shop. the Steel Rose breaks the good news. We have done better this year than the last year, with half the staff. The Rev and I have an enthusiastic invitation back next year to help out. The Bumblebee was another success story – she’s going to be a permanent addition. Who knows, maybe my crafty girlfriend can help out with arrangements some time? Now I’m going to enjoy the remains of my weekend and relax.Published in