Friday, May 12, 2017

God is the Jimmy John's Driver

Teeny Toasted Almond birthday cake.

There is a voicemail message that I have kept on our answering machine since last fall.

The day I received that message, I was working at my desk here in my home office.  The phone rings often, but I never answer unless I recognize the caller ID.  (The phone: yet another great idea for communication that has been corrupted by marketers, spammers, and other scumbags.)  On this particular day, the phone rang with an area code in the town several hours away where Oldest Daughter lives.   A minute later, the same number called again.  And a third time.  That’s true persistence, I thought.  I began to pay attention.

The fourth time, the caller left this message:

Hello, this is the Jimmy John’s driver.  I am outside of your building trying to get ahold of you.  Um, just give me a call at (number).  Thank you.

First I had to realize what “Jimmy John’s driver” meant.  I only know what Jimmy John’s is because I ate there once on a business trip in St. Louis.  We didn’t have a Jimmy John’s nearby.  So, the Jimmy John’s delivery person is trying to get in my house?  That’s mysterious!

I called Mr. Jimmy John’s number.  He said, “[Oldest Daughter’s Name], I am here with your order, but I can’t get into your building.”   Aha!  I explained the situation to him, wondering why on earth Older Daughter was giving our phone number out for her take-out needs.  Just in case he was actually an axe murderer, I didn’t give him OD’s phone number, but texted her right away:  (please click to embiggen) 

As I was texting her, someone else let him in the building and he was able to deliver her order.  Also, he was not an axe murderer.

If I were the Jimmy John’s driver, I don’t think I would have cared enough to call four times to get the order delivered.  But here was a person in a not so glamorous job, who really cared, was persistent and polite.  (please click to embiggen)   

Alas, my motherly hinting that she should not let a good thing get away was too late.

But I have kept the original voicemail message because I need reminding, often, that there is at least one reliable, caring person out there.  (Don’t tell me that the Jimmy John’s driver was only in it for the money.  I don’t want to hear it.)

Today I am ever more in need of knowing that someone out there cares.  I’ve been fighting off the doldrums for weeks and months, mostly by throwing myself headlong into political activity, but also by trying to be all things to all people. 

Some small part of being all things to all people in the past few weeks:

- Yesterday I ordered cat litter for my aunt.  Well, for my aunt’s cats.  It regularly astounds me that ordering cat litter for delivery is one of those things I do regularly.  (I guess the Jimmy John’s driver can be grateful for something about his delivery gig.)
- Several times a week I listen calmly to my mother, who is anxious about a lot of things (and she has reason to be), calm her down, hang up, and then adopt her anxiety.  I love my mother and she has been very encouraging to me, especially about my political activity. She tells me not to overdo it, but I can’t stop. 
- I figure out what the hell to make for dinner each night. Every time I peel carrots I think about how Anne Frank would have been grateful to have the carrot peelings and how grateful I am that we can have dinner, no matter what it is.
- I failed to get my husband a nice present for his birthday, but at least the cake was good.  My husband is the best guy, and deserves Toasted Almond Cake With Custard.  I put a photo at the top of this post just so I could lead off with something really good.
- I try to be a loving mother.  I have had a blast the past few days quizzing Younger Daughter in preparation for her AP exams.  Too bad it was while I was driving her to school on the day of each exams.  A little bit late to do any good.
- I drove my daughter to school on the day of her AP exams.
- I showed up at the so-called “National Day of Prayer” event at my church, an event sanctioned by all you evangelical Trump voters out there, and even toned down my anger to write a prayer for it that would be palatable to all but that I could feel honest about reading. 
- I miss my Dad.  That's not part of being all things, but it's there in the mix.
- I try to prevent the collapse of US democracy, every day.  It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. Normally I would just leave it up to the President and Congress, but that's not an option right now.
- I tried weeding out some papers from my files so I could reduce the sea of papers I live in.  But failed.
- I did my paid job, which has become discouraging, and which I might give details about in my next post. Or not.
- I went to a Presbytery meeting about racism.  What could possibly make me think I have the time and energy to be a leader at my church on this topic?
- I paid my taxes to my fucking federal government, which seems every day to be more and more friendly to white supremacists, Jew-haters, authoritarian world leaders, and people who would probably like to shoot my mixed race relatives (who are all citizens of this country, fair and square, not that should make a difference on whether people get shot at).  

So I keep the message from the Jimmy John’s driver, and listen to it every now and then, in the hopes that God is like the Jimmy John’s driver, persistently trying to get ahold of me, reaching through my despair, failure, and anger to push some love into my heart.  And in the hopes that God will help me see that there are actually people out there and in my own family who are my Jimmy John’s driver, who are being all things to me, in spite of the fact that they have a lot of other deliveries to make.

* * * * * * *

I still wonder what would have happened if my daughter had asked for a date with him.
* * * * * * * *
Apparently I haven't been able to write for weeks because I've been waiting to give myself permission to let it all out.  


Jenny Hart Boren said...

When my son moved across the country to go to college in Chicago, he sent me a text message about the server at the Panera he often went to, who noticed his soup was cold and got him a full bowl of nice hot soup. I saved the message until my old phone finally died, and I felt sad that it was gone forever. A later message described his job delivering lunches to businesses downtown, and how when his eyelashes were frozen he got bigger tips. College was hard for this mom!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I had hoped there would be a happy ending, that your daughter kept ordering until the same delivery guy came back (there's still hope!) and that he'd be the perfect one because he also sang. I'm a sucker for a romance like that.
You are inspiring to me. You keep on keeping on, while I turn away and hide myself in work or family or fantasy of life being normal. Life is definitely NOT normal and we can't count on those in leadership positions to act in appropriate ways. You, Carolyn, are filling the shoes and I'm so sorry they are giving you blisters. Your involvement makes me proud to share a denomination with you. I'm glad you let it all out -- may it be, if not a balm for your hurting heart, a much-needed release of the painful pressure.

I no longer enjoy Mother's Day because 1) my kids are no longer little and they don't give me cards; 2) I know too many hurting women for whom Mother's Day is painful, and I can't delight in something that brings pain to people I care about. All that said and written, I am glad you love your mother and honor her so well. (I fail at the latter and have to remind myself of the former.)