Thursday, April 22, 2010

May I take your order?

There’s an old joke that often comes back to me when I find myself in this kind of situation...

This old guy goes to the fast food drive-thru for lunch. The young voice in the speaker asks to take his order. He replies, “I have a $5 bill. Just give me whatever the heck you want me to have.”

He hears back over the speaker, “I’m sorry sir, you will have to tell us what you want. We can’t make that decision for you.”

Again he says, “I have a $5 bill. Just give me whatever the heck you want me to have.”

The response he hears, “I’m sorry sir, we can’t do that.”

So he finally says, “Well, why not? You did yesterday!”

It’s funny because it’s true.

I spend a lot of time in drive-thru queues. Mostly for drinks, not so much for food. Between my Diet Coke habit and Scott’s coffee needs, it’s almost a daily thing.

Besides the fact that I always need to take a sip of my drink before I drive away (heaven forbid they give me regular Coke instead of diet; or sweet tea if I asked for unsweet!), there are some other things that drive me crazy in the drive-thru queue:

I’ve made list.
  1. Long trucks with LOUD hemi engines. There was one behind me in the line today and both I and the speaker box voice had to literally scream at each other over the engine racket. Of course, when the big, loud truck got up to the speaker to place his order, he cut the engine off so he speak without yelling and hear everything the speaker box voice said. Well good for him. What about for the good of the rest of us? Never mind that I am now deaf and have a raspy throat from all the yelling. If you have to turn that thunderous engine off just so you can hear anyway, why not just park the thing and go inside? The rest of us would greatly appreciate it.
  2. Vehicles pulling anything on a trailer hitch. There is barely room for all the oversized SUVs and the big hemi engine trucks anyway. When you add a hitched boat or lawn mower on a trailer, it invariably pushes a car in the back of the line out into the street and blocks traffic. I’ve been the one being honked at out in the street and it isn’t pretty. Again, just the park thing and go inside. You’ll need to take up three or four parking spaces to do that, and most likely a handicapped one at that, but so be it.
  3. People who place their orders at the speaker box and are told the total amount of their bill, but yet refuse to even think about getting their wallet out until they actually get up to the window where someone is already holding their bag of yummies out of the window. If your drive-thrus are as busy as the ones I visit, then there’s always a car of two in front of you providing ample time to get your money in hand after you place your order and before you actually arrive at the pick-up window. And, hey, what a novel idea that if your money’s in hand and ready to hand over first, then both your hands are free to fill with food. I realize this takes coordination and a bit of organizational skill, but you can do it. I know you can!
  4. Why do they call it a drive-THRU anyway? You don’t drive THROUGH anything. Maybe we should all start calling it a drive-AROUND. Maybe a drive-BY would be more accurate. Of course, drive-BY has all kinds of other violent connotations, but given the nature of this beast (and no, I’m not talking about myself), a drive-by might be in order.

It’s after two o’clock now which means happy hour at Sonic. Which means half price drinks. Gotta go. It’s drive-by time.

I thought you ought to know about it. Buy it back if you want it—you can make it official in the presence of those sitting here and before the town elders. You have first redeemer rights. If you don't want it, tell me so I'll know where I stand. You're first in line to do this and I'm next after you. Ruth 4:4

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Life in Pollen-nesia

I finally drove my car to and through the car wash yesterday. Scott was in the passenger seat and he was yelling at everyone else on the road to watch out for me because I literally could not see through the pollen-covered windshield to navigate the roadway. Good thing the car wash wasn’t that far from my house and there wasn’t much traffic on a Monday afternoon.

Scott’s been my chauffer the last few days so my car has been sitting in the driveway collecting layer after layer of the yellow dust. There seem to be a lot more blooms out all at the same time this year. There was also no cold snap in the middle of it to stunt some of blossoming, which has helped cut some of the pollen production in that past couple of years.

Scott nicknamed our neighborhood Pollen-nesia because everything is coated in the tropical yellow color. I am just now getting over two weeks of feeling puny because my bronchial airways were coated in it as well (Maybe we should call it Pollen-sneezia).

All this yellow dust has been at its thickest right here on the tail end of Holy Week. Holy Week is one of the busiest weeks of the year for us. At least at Christmas we spread out all the activities over a 3 or 4 week period. Holy Week, we try to do it all in the same 3 days Jesus used to save the entire world and we try to do it while we’re coughing and sneezing and wheezing through the pollen. I don’t think we’ll ever measure up, but we certainly do give it our best effort.

We have a Maundy Thursday service at church.

Then we have a Good Friday Service at church.

Then there’s Easter Sunday morning when everybody shows up and expects to see and been seen by God in a big way. Many come to get a year's worth of God all in one worship service. Expectations are high.

Scott also agreed to sing at the local Episcopal church for their Paschal Vigil service on Saturday night. He sang two songs and also chanted, like a monk, some kind of proclamation about Adam and the Israelites and the Passover and Jesus coming again. Basically, the entire Bible.

That’s four days in a row of church services. In Pollen-nesia.

I say it every year, “Jesus didn’t go to church this much.”

And did he suffer with all these allergens?

With all that church and the preparation that goes into all those services, the church staff do not get an official Easter holiday until the Monday after. That’s just the ministry life. I work for local government so I don’t officially get any days off for Easter and/or spring break. I accrue 3 hours of time off for every week that I work, which means I have to work 13 full weeks to get one week off. I am in no way complaining. I do get most national holidays, two days for Thanksgiving, and two days for Christmas off. Because of the city and state that I live in, I even get Confederate Memorial Day off. I think that’s odd and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it, but if they’re going to give me a day off with pay, I’m going to take it.

So. The Monday after Easter was scheduled to be a holiday for Scott. When I left the office on Good Friday, I told my boss I would see him on Tuesday; I was taking a vacation day on Monday so Scott and I could have a day off together.

We were looking forward to 12:00 Sunday afternoon when we would be “done.” Free. We wanted to get out of Pollen-nesia for a night. Get some rest. Breathe some different air. Maybe I could get to see my parents. Maybe we would get to eat at Sonny’s BBQ. Maybe I’d get to shop at Macy’s.

Alas, the ministry life called again and a funeral was scheduled for the middle of the afternoon Monday, which nixed our travel plans. Scott was set to sing at the funeral, and of course, he knew that’s exactly where he needed and wanted to be at that time.

Make that five days in a row of church services. Still in Pollen-nesia.

Let me say it again. Jesus didn’t go to church that much. And the only time I can think of anyone sneezing in the Bible was the boy that Elisha gave mouth to mouth resuscitation to. I don’t think that had anything to do with blooming flowers.

This was the second time in a month that I’ve made preparations to take a day off from work and then something happened that kept me from doing whatever it was I had planned to do on that day off. Actually, both times we were planning an out of town trip. So, what do I do when I tell the boss I’m taking a day off but then end up otherwise unoccupied? Do I go on in to work anyway and say “Surprise! I love it so much I couldn’t stay away!”

Well, no, of course not. If I find myself with some unexpected time on my hands, I have this vision in my head of a day at home doing nothing but what I want to do, like finish that book I’ve been nursing for a couple of weeks now or update the playlist on my ipod. Sitting on the porch in the rocking chair sounds nice. An afternoon nap sounds good too.

However. I cannot seem to stay at home and have a vacation day all at the same time. Especially in Pollen-nesia.

I find it very difficult to relax when there are a million other things that need to be done and every other day I never seem to have the time to do them because I’m at work all day. From the minute I get out of bed I begin to see things that need to be done around the house. Since the boss is not expecting me at work, I can no longer use “I don’t have time to do that right now” as an excuse. I have to get busy.

I was standing at the ironing board pressing the white shirt Scott was going to wear to the funeral later that day. I was also going to iron all the other non-essential things (like a tablecloth) that had been piling upon the ironing board waiting for me and my spare time. From my vantage point at the ironing board, I can see out of the bedroom window. I’m not usually at home when the mid-morning sun comes through the bedroom window and highlights all the dust on the blinds. This day, however, I was there and saw all that dust and suddenly began to feel like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t get that Swiffer swiffering fast enough on those blinds.

Then there was the front porch. I moved all my plants from their winter shelter to the summer positions on the edge of the porch. Some still need repotting, but that will have to wait until my next non-vacation day off. I wiped down the outside furniture and swept the porch to clear it of the thick layer of yellow pollen dust. I finished that up and went back inside. A little while later I went back outside and was compelled to go get the broom and sweep again becasue the yellow dust was back again. It just won’t go away.

Dust on my blinds. Dust on my car. Dust on my porch. I can Swiffer it and wipe it and wash it away, but it always seems to come back. It just about gets the best of me when I begin to think about how all this dust has ruined my unexpected "free" day.

In my second attempt at sweeping the front porch and eventually abandoing the futile efforts, I realize that the dust was there first. The pollen was falling long before we ever made a driveway and parked a car in it. Even before that, my ancestors actually were dust. Dust of the earth is what God scooped up and breathed life into to become the very first human being. It was in a garden too, so I'm pretty sure there must have been some pollen mixed in that handfull of dust.

No need to fight any longer to rid my home and life of it. It is my heritage. Next time I get an unexpected day off at home, my cousin Dusty and I will be sitting on the front porch reading a good book. The broom and Swiffer will be collecting dust in the closet.

The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7