I just have a quick story to tell you all about a girl, her medicated zit, stretchy pants and a Fed Ex man in a Fed Ex van.
Well, I am not sure how quick it will be as I haven’t decided on how many details to provide so if you know me, you better go fill your coffee cup and settle in…
See, once upon a time there was this girl who had to pay a price for all of the natural beauty and peace and quiet that surrounded her. And typically that price came in the form of inconvenient weather and malfunctioning equipment.
And always when she least expected it…
Now I think I may have briefly let you in on the debacle that was the Schwann’s Man’s attempt to reach our doorstep with his truck full of corn dogs, ice cream sandwiches, pot pies, and breaded vegetables before Christmas. And we welcome the Schwann’s Man with open wallets around here because being 30 miles away from the nearest grocery store, unless we install a little freezer in our car, our ice cream doesn’t stand a chance on a trip of that length with a working floor heater.
But when the Schwaan’s Man finds himself in our driveway, in his truck, stuck like a rock in concrete in two inches of snow, our chances at ice cream sandwiches for the next three to four months are pretty well shot to hell.
At least he still attempts to visit mom and pop.
And for good reason. See, as a woman who has worked from her home for a good amount of years, my mother has the Schwann’s Man thing down to an art. While other neighbors (I will not name names to protect the ice cream and convenience food refusers) shut off all of the lights and let the dog out when the big white freezer truck rolls down their driveway, my momma keeps track of the man’s arrival by placing that little orange dot on her calendar. And then she welcomes him (or her, there have been female Schwann’s Men…I mean people…in the past) inside for a cup of coffee while she presents her list and asks things like: “How are the roads?” “How’s your wife?” “Did little Jimmy pass that test?” “Any bad dog encounters lately?”
And the Schwann’s Person answers these questions and asks some of his or her own and then mom tries to sell them one of my CD’s while she crams her triple fudge swirl, chip ‘n mint, rocket pops and green beans into her already maxed out refrigerator.
My momma’s rapport with the Schwaan’s Man has been so positive over the years that it caused some controversy within the household when, at four-years-old, my little sister accused her own mother of having an affair with the man who brought ice cream.
But we blame that on all of the Day’s of Our Lives she was allowed to watch while mom was trying to get some work done…
Anyway, I tell you this to make sure you understand the remoteness of our living situation– nearest neighbor: at least one mile either direction. And in either direction there happens to lie some pretty gnarly, snow-covered, drifted in hills as of now. So sometimes the Schwaan’s Man was the only visitor we would get on those cold days in December.
The Schwaan’s man or Fed Ex.
And we have to be good to our guests…
Which brings me now to the stretchy pants and the zit.
See it was Martin Luther King Jr. day and I had settled in with plans of writing, testing out my new vacuum, organizing our laundry situation and maybe singing at the top of my lungs to the music I had turned up obnoxiously loud while I did it. Notice in this list of things to do that I didn’t squeeze time in for an activity like showering, brushing my teeth, putting on a fresh shirt or, you know, even looking in the mirror. I mean, it was a holiday, the snow was blowing outside my door and by my definition I was snowed in. There would be no unexpected visitors. I was safe within my cocoon of a house out at the bottom of a hill filled in with drifted snow.
On most days like these I would have been safe to put a little zit cream on the goiter that had sprouted in the middle of my forehead and skip the bra thing. No one would ever know.
Most days the only one judging my appearance would be the pug (and he can’t see me cause he’s asleep on the couch) and the lab, who would never point fingers.
Most days I would be safe.
But this was not most days. This was the day that husband was expecting a very important package. See, just a few days ago, unbeknownst to me, he had placed an order for…
wait for it…
..a portable oven…
…for his pickup.
Because every man dreams of being able to drive around while the smell of casserole or a hot pocket fills the cab of his truck with the aroma of a hot meal. The man must be really sick of sandwiches.
Anyway, husband knew this package was to arrive last Monday and he was happily on the phone with Mr. Fill-in Fed Ex from Wisconsin to give him the much-needed directions and let him know that his wife would be in the house down the hill if Mr. Fill- in Fed Ex from Wisconsin needed me to come up the snowy hill with the big four-wheel drive to meet him.
And I would have known all of these plans and had adequate time to at least find some real pants with a button and a zipper if I hadn’t been so enthusiastically vacuuming every inch of our tiny home (ceiling included) and declaring the Dyson Animal a gift to man-kind while singing “Stand By Your Man” at the top of my lungs. I would have know about Mr. Fill-in Fed Ex from Wisconsin’s arrival had I not missed all three or four calls to my cell phone and the half-dozen to the land line.
See, the Dyson picks up dirt and dog hair like a champ, but it sure is not quiet. And as soon as I shut the thing off, with a nice little armpit sweat going and beads of perspiration glistening on my forehead, really accentuating the zit, I put my hands on my hips and was just getting to the whole wiping my brow thing when I heard a knock on the door.
Must be pops, I thought to myself. He has the day off and he won’t judge me.
I took three swooping steps and swung open the front door.
Not pops, but Mr. Fill in Fed Ex from Wisconsin with really nice teeth and golden locks flowing from under his baseball cap.
“You must be Mrs. Scofield?”
“Err, ummm, yes. Yes. I guess I am. Hello.”
“Hello. Your husband told me you would be home.”
He handed me the package.
I suddenly became freakishly aware of the inappropriate use of toothpaste as zit cream and the muppet-like hairstyle I chose this morning.
“Hope I can make it up that hill,” said Mr. Fill-in Fed Ex from Wisconsin as I began to shut the door. “Your husband didn’t tell me it was that steep and these vans don’t have four-wheel drive…”
“Oh, ha. I hope you do too. Wow. It’s bad out there…”
I slammed the door. Ran to the bathroom to scrub my forehead. I found my bra. I found my pants with button and a zipper for crying out loud. I put on some damn socks. What’s wrong with you woman? Get it together! If by the grace of God Mr. Fill in Fed Ex Man from Wisconsin makes it up that hill without any assistance I will never go a day without showering. I will never go a full day without swapping my stretchy pants for ACTUAL PANTS!
Fully clothed, hair tamed a bit, I pressed my nose against the window with hope that the tires on that massive “van” were covered with metal studs…the only way that thing was going anywhere.
But, alas, there were no studs. There was barely a tread on those tires. And Mr. Fill-in Fed Ex Man from Wisconsin wasn’t even moving past the garage let alone up the hill, around a 90 degree turn and out of my life forever.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
I called husband. He might have advice.
I called Pops. Maybe he’s home and would come and rescue me from awkward conversation and the chance that I may have to attempt to help this Fed Ex Man in distress.
He was not home. He was driving away from the situation, but while his cell phone broke up, I thought I could hear the words “You” and “Pull him” and “Out.”
I decided I needed a second opinion and called the neighbor.
Husband called back and I thought I heard the same advice I thought I heard come from pop’s voice box.
“Jess, unless you want a three to four hour coffee guest, you will have to pull him out yourself.”
I stepped into my boots just as Mr. Fill-In Fed Ex Man was approaching my door with a look of panic and defeat.
Panic, because he no doubt had no intentions of serving as a three to four-hour coffee guest in the house of a crazy woman in sweat pants and what appeared to be the start of a horn growing out of her forehead.
“Uh, yeah. I’m stuck,” he said.
And his face turned from defeat to terror as I informed him while pulling on my overalls and beanie with the ball on top that I was his only hope.
That this sorry ass would be pulling his sorry ass out.
I will note here that I do not fake confidence well. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do and that is the thought that was going through my head as I found husband’s tow rope, started up the Chevy and put it into gear to pull forward…
…and didn’t move.
I put it in reverse. Not budging.
I put it in drive. Not going anywhere.
I checked the 4-wheel drive. I put it in reverse again.
Stuck. Or something like it.
Oh great. I didn’t even have any Schwaan’s food to offer this man! We are officially stranded! We will be out here alone, the two of us and the only thing I have to eat is a couple tortilla chips and a brown banana. Sweet mercy, we’ll starve!
Mr. Fill in Fed Ex Man from Wisconsin with his pearly white teeth gave me some space while I attempted to maneuver husband’s pickup a few more times and then…
I rolled down the window.
“Are you stuck.”
“Ha, ha, I guess I’m stuck too.”
I got out of the pickup and Mr. Fill-in Fed Ex Man from Wisconsin got in. I discreetly pulled the phone from the pocket of my jacket, turned my face away from the disturbing scene and dialed husband.
“The Fed Ex guy is driving your pickup. I hope that’s ok. See. Well. It was stuck. Yeah. Well. I couldn’t get it out…oh, wait…oh…there it goes…never-mind. He got it out. Bye now!”
And as I stood there like a helpless little woman in oversized overalls and a beanie with a ball on my head, Mr. Fill-In Fed Ex Man from Wisconsin pulled the pickup over to his “van,” hitched the two vehicles together with husband’s giant rope and told me to drive.
“Just drive me on up and out and past the approach until I get straightened out and then I should be good to go.”
Well, you remember how I told you there are snow covered hills on either side of our home sweet home? Yeah, I had that in mind as I pushed on the gas and drug that Fed Ex Man in his Fed Ex Van up out of our drive, around the 90 degree angle drifted in with snow, to the top of the hill with the grain bins, to the right on the main road and I didn’t stop until I had that Fed Ex Man in the Fed Ex Van at the very top of a hill I was sure he could coast down.
And when I finally looked back I may have caught a glimpse of Mr. Fill-in Fed Ex Man from Wisconsin waving his hands in the air in panic, begging me in sign language to stop. Stop dragging him down the gravel road! Where are you taking me? How much further? Oh sweet mercy what have I gotten myself into? Who is this woman?
But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And I have never trusted a vehicle without 4-wheel drive so sometimes you just have to point in the right direction. And in the winter, that direction is down hill and right past the Veeder ranch approach, which no doubt has come to be known by delivery drivers in this area as the black hole.
I guess we’ll be getting our ice cream and our packages in town from now on.
Oh the price we pay for the simple life.