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Head Scratchin’

The sun rose earlier yesterday thanks to some dudes that thought Daylight Savings was a good idea.

Seriously. They were all dudes. If they had been women, we’d all be planning Daylight Savings further in advance, complaining less about it and making sure to mark the event with a gift of some kind.

The forecast for tonight: seventy-warm-something degrees with winds like a whisper out of somewhere between Beautiful and Almost Perfect. I went out and looked for fish over lunch at Job #1. And I did so WITHOUT A COAT. It was glorious.  I prepared myself for a night of gorgeous weather delivering pizza.

My five-month average for Tuesday nights falls right around $40 earned. Some are better. Some are worse.

This particular Tuesday was a ‘better’, but with a plot twist.

I left for a delivery, came back, and left again. Deliveries were always ready.  Cooks were either smoking cigarettes outside or cutting pizzas. Other drivers were never there. They were out on their own deliveries. I averaged two deliveries per drive. Once with three.

It got dark. I felt like something was waiting for me. It felt like it was toward the back of the store. Its presence grew bigger. It was a darkness in my mind. A worry. Something small that threatened to explode into something a hundred times bigger, like a dinosaur in a pill.

Here’s a cool version:

I shrugged off the worry. I finished lesson 6 of FPU in my CD player on my last delivery and made it back to the store. A manager let me in through the locked door, I deposited my money and went to the back. I turned the corner by the freezers and froze.

I removed my cap, put my left hand on my hip and scratched my head. Before me laid an ocean of dirty dishes.

I replaced my cap. I felt very tired. My woes inflamed my whiney self. Injustices popped out of the soil of my mind like the tulips in front of my house: strong and lots at once.

“I didn’t get a break.“

“I only got to eat one pizza.“

“I ran out of free pop.“

“My feet hurt.“

“My kids are sick.“

“I’m fat.”

“I work two jobs.”

“I can’t do this.“

That voice screamed for me to drop future closing shifts. Then my manager interrupted.

“Let’s get you off the road. Go ahead and cash out,” he said.

“Right.” I turned around and went to cash out.

I made $71. It was amazing. The tradeoff felt easier as I counted each crumpled bill. Maybe I could lift the planet of dishes in the back on my atlas-like shoulders for $71.

I texted my wife and let her know that we had been busy. Nobody was able to do dishes, so I was going to be late. I told her it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if she didn’t wait up. Then I got started.

A fellow driver came back to help some time later. “I’ll put them away if you load,” she said.

“Sounds good,” I said. I’ve got my methods, and they revolve around the loading end. I was happy with the arrangement.

“You’ve got kids? A daughter, right?” she asked. A local rock station was blasting. Had been all night. I couldn’t hear her, so I assumed she couldn’t hear me. I held up three fingers.

“I’ve got three.”

“Three?” she said. “That one manager has four.”

“Yeah, four.”

Swish. Bang. Lift, slide, shut and fwoooosh, the dishwasher blasted a new set.

“You still with the mom?” she said.

“Yep,” I said. For time and all eternity, I said to myself.

There was a pause. She was silent. I chuckled. “I guess that doesn’t happen much anymore,” I joked.

She didn’t say anything. Another load went through.

“You got kids, right? Two or three?” I asked.

She answered in the affirmative. She listed their ages. I shared the ages of mine.

“You still with the dad?” I asked.

She paused. “Probably not after tonight,” she said. But I didn’t hear her. Or maybe I wasn’t sure if I had heard her right. She repeated herself louder. Just loud enough for me to hear her voice break. I saw tears well up in her eyes.

“Why?” I asked.

“Stupidity,” she said.

I’m not saying my pain wasn’t real. I’m saying my perspective of them was self-deceived. Her statement of pain was real, and in that moment, more important to me than my own. It put my issues into true perspective. I witnessed the wisdom in the commandment to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those to stand in need of comfort. It burns away the lies we tell ourselves and puts our problems in correct proportions.

We talked a lot for the rest of the night. I wished her luck when she left. I don’t know if our talk helped, or if her burden felt lighter. Mine did. I put mine down to help her with hers and found it easier to leave them on the greasy tile.

I got home at a little after 1 A.M. and scratched my head again. This time I was in wonder. I thought I was just delivering pizzas to get out of debt. I’m learning more every week that money management, effort, hard work and doing the job anyway despite complaints put us in situations that go far beyond our understanding and influence. It allows us to consecrate more of who we are to what really matters.

Always, and on new levels every day,



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