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Posts tagged ‘kindness’

The Cheerful Pizza Guy

pizza

New baby in a new family at our church.

I think I’ve met them once, but even if I don’t know them, I do know the chaos of the first few weeks post-birth, so I signed up to send them a meal right away.

“Meal” should be in quotes.  Really, I signed up to send them easy comfort food: pizza, breadsticks, cookies.  Nothing healthy, nothing to increase milk supply, just plain old hot, cheesy pizza that makes you say, with a sigh, “Ahhh.  Dinner is ready and I didn’t have to make it!”

So I get out my computer and am about to type in the name of a national pizza chain when I suddenly, inexplicably, type in a local chain instead.  No reason.  It just sort of comes out that way.  It surprises me a little, but since I only have ten minutes to order before I need to get the kids out the door for errands before dark, which is early this time of year… does it matter?

It did.

I find the store in the same town, order the food. Pay.  Slam the lid of the computer and start hollering for kids to get in the car.

Fight traffic.  Find a parking spot.  Try to get the items on my list, but no one knows where they are in the store.  The second employee makes up an aisle number where we should look and disappears.  Urgh.  Phone rings.

I don’t recognize the number.  Uncharacteristically, I answer anyway.  Does it matter?

It does.

“Hi, it’s Josh, the pizza delivery guy.  What’s the apartment number?”

Wait. What?  “Umm, I don’t think there is one.”

“Well, the address you put in is an apartment building.”

“Are you sure?”

He answered cheerfully in spite of the intelligence of my question.  “Yup. I’m in front of it.”

“Jeepers.  I don’t know…”  The kids are starting to drift down the aisle and I beckon them impatiently.  “Let me check.  Can I call you back in just a minute?”

“Sure,” he says, like he has free time to wait for me.

I look for the email.  No apartment number in the address.  I text the Meals Coordinator.  No answer.  I send an email to the family.  No answer.  I can feel my face getting red.  I look up to catch the irritated eye-roll of a passing shopper.  ‘People on their phones when they should be watching their kids,’ he seemed to glare at me.

I press the number of the pizza guy, who answers, ever cheerfully.

“Sorry.  I can’t find it.  Can you knock on a door and ask?”

“Nope.  That’s not something I can do.”

I sigh.  “Well, there’s nothing else I can do.  I’m sorry to send you out there for nothing.”  Inside, I’m sick that the cost of the meal is going to waste.

“That’s okay,” he responds, “Thanks!”

I hang up irritated and recall the drifting children with a snap at the hands proffering items that are not on our list accompanied by wheedling whines.

Someone cuts in front of me on the way to the checkout, and I consciously bite my tongue.  You know, I spit to myself, this always seems to happen when you’re trying to do something good.  Why can’t a simple meal delivery just work out smoothly? And now all that money has gone to waste. That’s what irritates me the most.

On the way to the car, I explain the situation to the kids.  “I’m really frustrated,” I tell them when I finish.  They can tell.

We’ve just finished packing the car when the text notification dings.  The Meals Coordinator.  She doesn’t know the apartment number.  “Oh well,” I think.  “Onward.”

Scrolling through email as my son drives us out of the parking lot.  Message from the family!  With the apartment number!  They are sorry they didn’t send it.  Sorry for causing the mix up.  I feel a little guilty for getting so easily irritated.  I press the pizza guy’s number.

“Hi!  I’m the lady without the apartment number. I have it!  Can you go back?”

“Oh, my boss already refunded it.  You’ll have to order again.”

I thank him, and hang up, surprised that they would refund the undelivered meal.  Wow!  Maybe I could have handled that whole money thing a little more gracefully.  A quick search on my phone reveals the store and their number.  I call.  The manager is kind.  I use The Card and order right from the phone.  I have the address memorized.

“Do you want to add in a tip?” the manager inquires.  I think about the cheerful guy fielding my frantic questions and frenzied requests, knowing he has to make another trip out there.  I add on a chunky tip.  ‘He really deserves it,’ I think.

An hour later, I get a message from the family.  Pizza was good!  I am relieved and glad I have done my job – new baby’s family is fed! Mission accomplished.  I glance at my phone.  Missed call from the pizza delivery guy – I recognize his number by now.

I call him back. He wants to say thanks for the tip.  I thank him and tell him why the meal was so important.  New baby.  Tired parents.  Post-partum craziness.

“Oh, I understand that,” he says emphatically. “We just had a baby, too, and those first few days were so hard!”  I congratulate him, thank him again, and hang up.

But a thought is tumbling in my head.

New baby.  Pizza delivery guy: minimum wage plus tips.  Not making a ton of money, for sure.  Diapers, wipes, Mom recovering. I bet things are tough.  But he’s so cheerful!

New scheme emerges – baby gifts for the pizza guy!

A daycare-sized box of wipes and another of diapers, and we are headed to the pizza store.  I don’t know anything more than the guy’s first name and the store whose pizzas he delivers.

I text his number and warn him we’re coming.

My kids help me tote in the treasure and plunk it heavily on the bench.  The manager asks if he can help me.

“Uh, do you have a delivery driver named Josh?”

Yes, they do. He’s out on a delivery now.

“Does he have a new baby?” I wonder, hoping I have it right.

Yes, although the manager looks at me a little suspiciously.

“These are for him,” I say, sliding a card on top of the stack, hoping the manager will deliver them to the delivery guy.

Fifteen minutes later, the text notification is chiming again.

It’s Josh.

“Just received your thoughtful gift!  You have no idea what that means to me and my fiancé with the month we have had. I’ve been in the hospital for 2 weeks having multiple surgeries and was off work for a month due to the hospital. Then someone decides to back into me last Friday while I was working and totaled my vehicle.  You have definitely made my week and my fiance’s!  Thank you so much!”

My face is getting hot again as a litany of lessons learned marches through my mind.

Little decisions matter.

Cheerfulness makes a difference.

Skip the irritation, something bigger is happening.

Be kind. You never know what’s going on in a person’s life.

Breathtaking Love

cleaning-supplies

Neither of these two women consider themselves Christian.

In fact, after growing up in a Christian home, they have eschewed the title, the practice, the faith.

But their practice of virtue is breathtaking.

One is married to a man whose father has never been kind to her.  In fact, the ugliness and inappropriate nature of his advances toward her, his lifestyle, and behavior have done anything but enrich her life.

Last week, he overdosed.

It was the smell that alerted his neighbors.  When the police and the coroners arrived on scene, he had been dead many days.  Things broke open when they moved the body.  The apartment was a mess.  A big, liquid, ghastly-smelling mess.

Her husband, stunned, went home.  With family arriving the next day to remove his belongings from the apartment, this woman called cleaning service after cleaning service.  The prices to clean up such a scene were in the multiple thousands of dollars, well beyond their means.

“My husband’s grandma has a bad heart,” she told me on the phone as she gathered supplies at the hardware store.  “I really don’t want her to walk in there tomorrow and see all that.”  So, in the middle of the night, she went alone to the apartment and cleaned up what I hope is the very worst chaos she will ever see.  Then, she went home to comfort her husband.

Relatives arrived and stayed in her house.  For a week, she fed them, handled the cremation, the burial, the memorial service.  She even filled lockets with ashes, sifting through the urn’s contents with a care that had never been extended to her by the dust’s owner.  All of this she did with kind words and not a trace of bitterness.

Her sister, learning the weight the woman carried, drove through three states in the middle of the night to stand by her side.  While the husband’s family gathered, the sisters took care of one another, anticipating needs, extending support, creating a safe, comfortable environment for the grieving family.  Then, without fanfare, the sister drove home again.

Of all the virtues, Faith, Hope, and Love reign.  But the greatest of these is a love undeserved.  A love extended to one who has no human right to expect it.  A love that creates order in a place that would turn most people’s stomachs, comforts those who grieve for one who gave no kindness.  A love that covers great distance and stands like a rock to support another.

That love is breathtaking.

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