Sunday, May 9, 2010

Flowers, Anyone?

The gray skies didn't bode well, and indeed it was drizzling when I left the house to go to the store. I only needed bananas and another fruit, whatever was cheap, to round out what I had packed to eat while out on my runs. It takes too much time to stop and eat when you are out and time is of the essence.

They had asked me to be there at 8AM, and I decided to aim to be there at 7:30. I actually pulled in to the lot at 7:23, and I'm glad I did because the joint was already jumping. Several drivers who had been able to make it the day before were there already and on the list. Suzie was even loading up. I signed in and watched her work.

Suzie has been delivering flowers for years. She knows every trick and is happy to share her tips. Old newspaper in invaluable for taking up space so that items don't shift. Make sure you have a clipboard. Don't forget your map, reading glasses, and even binoculars for those roadways where the signs are so far across the intersection you can't see them or house numbers too small to read from the street. A flashlight if you are going to deliver all day and into the night.

She reminded me to load from the back of my list to the front, so I wouldn't have to pull arrangements over each other, because then they can break. "Grab your door tags, keep Rick's number handy so you can call if you need to, and call the people while on the way to that delivery so they can be expecting you. Always go to the back door first, especially if there are cobwebs on the front door. Don't pull into the driveway unless you aren't allowed to park on the street, or if you will have to go back out the way you came in." Suzie is my kind of lady, smart and a go getter. Never lets the grass grow under her feet. Makes sure she does the job right.

Even though there were a couple of people ahead of me, and I passed a few minutes talking to them, I got to go out very quickly because I was in a minivan. That meant I could take the longer runs that were coming out of the workroom. It was 8:06 when I pulled out of the parking lot to do the first 14 deliveries of my morning.

The first thing I noticed was that the directions were not much improved, in spite of their new computer with a big screen tv attached as a monitor. The program has changed, and one of the changes is that they start your directions at your first destination, leaving you to figure out how to get to the first delivery yourself. I asked about that street location, and found out it was across from a park I am familiar with. That made it easy.

What makes it not at all easy is the timing of the traffic lights in this town. There are intersections where you sit for almost 4 minutes by the clock so that just a very few cars can go by. You are almost ready to sacrifice your firstborn to get the light to change. Almost. Remember, I have teens, so I can say that. Teens are the reason some animals in the wild eat their young.

There was a slightly rocky start when I heard the sound of clinking after my first turn onto a major street. I stopped to rescue a couple of vases that had tipped slightly, and reset my boxes to keep it from happening again. Some drivers don't care if the flowers are damaged when they get there, but I'm not one of them. These people pay a pretty penny for the goods and deserve to get what they pay for.

After that, the first set went so smoothly I was in shock. Only at one place did I have to track down a neighbor to take the delivery. At the two other places where no one was home, the instructions were to leave them on the back porch anyway. All of the streets were, if not totally familiar, at least off of cross streets I knew. Some were streets I have friends on, or where friends used to live. It took almost 3 1/2 hours, mostly due to traffic and to having to track down 2 gravesites so I could put the flowers by headstones. When I got back, I jokingly asked if next time I have to go traipsing all over the cemetery I could get hazard pay.

About halfway through the first set, I remembered one of the most important rules: Go to the can before you head out. By the time I was done, I was so glad for a strong bladder. I didn't make the same mistake twice.

I got back from the first run and signed back in, turned in my delivery sheets, used the facilities and refilled my water bottle in the breakroom. By that time, they had another run of 14 ready for me, same general area as the first.

To my shock, the second set went even faster than the first. Again, everyone was home, or had left instructions to leave it on the back porch, or had a neighbor handy. The run was in a nice tight circle of the same areas where I was familiar with the major streets. I was back at the barn in just over two hours, again batting 1000.

When I started the morning, I wasn't sure if I wanted to do more than one morning and one early afternoon run. By the time I finished the second run, I knew I had at least one more in me. They had 6 more to the same general area! In fact, two of the deliveries this time were to next door neighbors of the people I had delivered to earlier. I was really getting to know those streets. On the one delivery where their instructions put me on the wrong side of the subdivision, I was able to figure out for myself where I should have gone in, and find the place anyway.

This time, I passed a gas station with a good price per gallon, and stopped there, too. Even with that, I was only out just over an hour and a half, and all deliveries were done.

Back at the barn, they asked if I could possibly do a run of 3. One of them was to a laundromat that has an address on one street, but faces another. Someone else hadn't been able to find it earlier. I know the laundromat. The other two were on streets I know, including across from one of the kid's favorite field trip spots. I was within spitting distance of my own house. I said that, sure, I could do that for them.

Again, 3 for 3. Back to turn in my sheet, and it was 5:30PM. That means 37 deliveries, no returns. Amazing.

This job can be fun. You get to see people smile. You get to see their dogs come running when you get to the door. You figure out parts of town you didn't know about, or learn more about the places you have just driven past before.

And my family only called 3 times while I was out!

Today is

Astronomy Day

Europe Day

Lemuria -- Ancient Roman Calendar (to get rid of the spirits of the malevolent dead)

Lost Sock Memorial Day

Mother's Day

Mothers At The Wall Day

National Bike to Work Day

National Butterscotch Brownie Day

National Holiday, Czech Republic

National Train Day

Rogation Sunday/Chrouchmas Sunday

Rural Life Sunday

Victory Day, Russia

Birthdays Today:

Rosario Dawson, 1979
Steve Yzerman, 1965
Tony Gwynn, 1960
Billy Joel, 1949
Candice Bergen, 1946
James L. Brooks, 1940
Albert Finney, 1936
Glenda Jackson, 1936
Mike Wallace, 1918
Howard Carter, 1873
J.M. Barrie, 1860
John Brown, 1800

Today in History:

The first battle recorded with what is considered historic accuracy and detail, the Battle of Megiddo between Thutmose III and a large Canaanite coalition under the King of Kadesh, BC1457
Christopher Columbus leaves Spain for his 4th and final voyage, 1502
Thomas Blood, disguised as a clergyman, attempts to steal England's Crown Jewels from the Tower of London, 1671
British inventor Joseph Bramah patents a beer-pump handle, 1785
The city of Reno, Nevada, is founded, 1868
The Vienna stock market crash (Der Krach) heralds the Long Depression, 1873
The first horse-drawn bus makes its début in the city of Mumbai, 1874
Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show opens in London, 1887
The first horseless carriage show in London opens, featuring 10 models, 1896
The lawn mower is patented, 1899
Australia opens its first parliament in London, 1901
The steam locomotive City of Truro becomes the first steam engine in Europe to exceed 100mph, 1904
The Australian Parliament first convenes in Canberra, 1927
Edgar Bergen and Charley McCarthy take to the airwaves, becoming an overnight radio sensation, 1937
Sam and Friends, with Jim Hensen and his muppets, debuts, 1955

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