Once upon a time, a long time ago, there wasn't an internet to run searches for things...like books. I discovered Square Books in Oxford, MS back in that long ago time. If we were going to be in the state of MS, almost every time to navigate a stop in Oxford when it was so out of the way. It was a mad dash to the mailbox during those weeks I knew the newsletter from the store would be waiting for me inside the mailbox. If there wasn't a trip planned in the future for passing through, I would call and order the books I wanted because they were the source for all books written by southern authors. When the box arrived because usually it was more than one book ordered, it felt like Christmas because each book was individually wrapped in tine bound brown craft paper. Maybe if felt more like a step back into time. Over the days I would unwrap a book and read till I was finished and then with anticipation pick the next wrapped book for those afternoons of living in a huge city reading stories more rural by design. Heaven I tells ya, heaven!
Of course we all know how search engines changed our world and now it takes a lot less effort to search out and find books. Sometimes the books from Amazon are wrapped in shrink wrap, but that is not the same as untying a string and opening paper. This morning while reading Psalm 104 this memory from the long time ago came to mind and it complimented perfectly these months and experiences here in the mountains. It is and has been with the same anticipation to unwrap these experiences here in the mountains, in a valley on a hill. Last night several of us got together at church and made cookies for the volunteer crew that keeps our lovely church looking...well...so lovely. I have to be honest I didn't have much to do with the cookie making, but I brought pizza to keep up everyone's strength and ran the timer for baking cookies. It is true for me that I can't stand the heat, so I stay out of the kitchen. But when you have such wonderful and talented bakers in the kitchen...this pilgrim stands back in awe at their talents. I tasted an oatmeal raisin cookie...it was good!
Certainly there have been a few experiences that I didn't greet with expectancy and anticipation...that being snakes and raccoons gone wild. Also include the underground deck railroad and anything to do with a crawl space. But the wonderful has outweighed that saying of "well, this is life in the country." I was reminded again about the kindness of most people around here. We need a little Christmas tree, right this very minute...well before the weekend so I would have help. We debated the merits of a NC fresh Christmas tree but we also discussed the demerits of a fresh NC Christmas tree...so pre lit tree from Lowe's became our choice. Nothing too big but nothing really small and hopefully finding a tree in our determined budget that didn't scream fake! I was able to find just right tree and began putting the box into the backseat of the truck when an older man...parking in the handicap parking asked if I needed his assistance in getting the tree into the back seat. Oh my how kind, but his movements were about the speed of sorghum. I assured him I could get the box into the truck and he responded with, well then I will help you by taking that cart. We had a few moments of conversation that left me with a huge smile that lasted until I had to go into Walmart...
When I picked up the gas station pizza yesterday the clerk gave me a discount and believe me these pizzas are already cheap but they are so good, because he had to take longer in making them. He normally works the morning shift and rarely do any pizza orders come in that early. You can tell by this piece of information we do not live near a college or university.
Psalm 104 also made me reflect on the long ago of work since it is mentioned in the psalm. I hadn't thought about this in forever but one morning as I was in the office of a co-worker, another co-worker with a bit more authority than the two of us announced her presence by banging the already open door against the door stop. We had been discussing a work related matter but she thought by the tone of our discussion we were being light-hearted and she assumed off task. Now this woman had the reputation of being so nice and wonderful, sweet even but I had seen the other side of her many times. I don't know why I was so privileged to experience these tantrums and her unrealistic belief that her job could be on the line. She expressed too many times that she had the gift of discernment yet I never knew her to discern anything positive. She would throw out an attempted proof from time to time as she made guesses about me. Never guessed anything right. A couple of times she prepared an ambush for me with our boss but I stood up for what I knew was right and countered back with facts, not embellished fantasy. So many days of walking on eggshells and trying not to hurt her feelings. For the first time I loved my work but disliked the people I worked with. For me usually I didn't care about the work but always had fun at the job because of the people. Finally, a few things happened where I could leave this job and hopefully escape from this "mad" woman. I wanted to give plenty of notice because they had given me a chance to do work I hadn't really done before but the days became unbearable and the slamming of the open door in my coworker's office and literally dodging spittle as she melted down...over what she assumed to be a conversation that left her out became a breaking point. Really? We were discussing the report that had to go into the Texas Railroad Commission about some wells that recently started producing again. Now that is a boring subject so one must be light-hearted or one will fall asleep while learning which form is the correct one. OK, how many of y'all just went to sleep over that last sentence? Come on...you know I did. The spark that set my early exit in motion was a phone call from a tennis friend who was so wishing I could be in this game with her...and that moment I told her, I can make that game. So the next morning I dressed up in my office finery, drove into downtown Houston with a happy heart, went up to the 17th floor...did not stop at my desk...and walked straight back to her office and laid down my office keys and parking pass...and said yesterday was my last day. I caught her dumbfounded...I felt like Edward G Robinson from one of those long ago biblical movies where his line is..."where's your messiah now" when I said...so you have the gift of discernment, where is your discernment now?...this sooner exit shouldn't have surprised you at all. You knew this was going to happen didn't you. For the first time she was speechless and only could counter back with, you have to turn in your parking pass...and I'm not giving you the money to pay for your parking...which happily I responded, parking is on me today and you don't even have to cut a check for the days I have worked...my gift to you. I began leaving the office when she followed me like a sick little puppy....telling me how much she liked me, how much she had enjoyed working with me...wouldn't I consider my decision? Would I still be her friend? I opened my purse and pulled out a pocket calendar and acted like I was looking things up...and said, well my slot for crazy friend is full but if an opening becomes available, I will let you know. Yep, I said that and lived...she followed me out of the building and to the parking garage saying all kinds of nice things....ugh. I finally told her to go back to the office, no one was there answering the phones. I drove home, changed into my tennis togs and resumed my tennis life for several more years. Even that time working at that horrible job became like a book wrapped in twine and brown craft paper because not only did I learn perseverance, I worked there longer than anyone else had ever done with this woman but I also learned how to use a computer....which profited me from then on...a gift although at the time, I didn't see it as a gift or something to anticipate opening. Oh by the way my tenure with them was three months... An epilogue to this story, because this too was also before the days of caller ID, she would call and hang up the phone when answered. Several times I saw her following me in her car as I walked our dog...finally on one of those phone calls I told her I knew it was her, stop calling me! That did it...never heard from her again, although she lived in the same apartments as one of my good friends so I was always looking over my shoulder because I didn't want to run into that crazy lady.
Well that is it for today kiddos. I need to place my order for December 4th and since I have been writing about back in the day, I too will practice a back in the day. This is such an important order, I don't trust the phone or online ordering. Going to go in person to make sure it is done right...with no surprises.