Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It was good while it lasted

I am a spring/summer church chick. Cold weather sends me into hibernation.
I search out things to look forward to that can string me through the cold months.
Planting bulbs, getting the free shopping center plants, making pomegranate ahm, making soup for church. Those things usually take me through February.
Last week, I tried to plant bulbs at church but it was too warm for the bulbs to hit the dirt, so I still have that to look forward to, and I have my own to add to and two friends’ yards as well.

The free plant day came up yesterday. I've been looking forward to it for weeks, watching and mentally picking out what I need for this yard or that. You’d think the planters held chocolate instead of dirt.

Yesterday, right in the middle of a quarterly staff planning day, I got the call. THE CALL.
“The truck is here!! They are here!! Come right over” said my contact. The timing was very unusual because usually the landscapers come at the crack of dawn, not during lunch rush hour. I dreaded digging amongst folks enjoying pizza, reubans or nachos, but one must do what one must do sometimes. This was one of those times.

I excused myself from the meeting, determined to dig fast and get back quick as a wink.
I met the friend/contact at her store, dug up what she wanted and what her boss wanted. I rode around and pried up the plants I needed for church and yards, then took a last drive around the shopping center to see if I forgot anything. I saw the elephant ears waving at me from afar and I pulled up and got out with my trowel. Note: Never fall for an elephant’s ears' wave.

I loosened the dirt around one of the waving plants and heard a voice behind me. “Are you with the landscapers?”
“No” I stood up and brushed the dirt off of the plant. A woman in an SUV had pulled up beside the curb. She held her phone to her ear.
“Who are you with?”
I smiled and said, “just me”
“I’m calling security.” The next few minutes are an exaggerated blur.
Another car pulled up, an officered police person came walking over, and a plain-clothed security officer also walked over.

I told my story to the woman, explaining that I had permission, and how I had permission and that if it was no longer okay for me to save these plants that were about to be dug up and abandoned in the landfill, then I’d release them back into her ill care.

She understood what had happened and let me know that the policy was now changed (now being the target word here,) and no one could have them but the landscapers. The reapers. The grim reapers.

I explained that the landscapers were glad to let me dig because it meant less work for them, but she held tight. We both waved off the FBI and the security guards. I convinced the police to go back to chasing bank robbers, and I begged the state trooper to look for speeders on the interstate. Finally, they left.

I was resigned to the fact that the glory days of collecting discarded plants was over. I wept inside, thinking of the orphans that were about to hit the landfill. I grieved. My heart was sad. The first woman felt my heartache and put her arm around me. “ If they are really really strong, they’ll make it no matter where they end up.”
I shook my head and blew my nose.

The second car took my attention. It contained a hormone depleted, slightly thinning but dyed blonde haired woman who had surely mistaken a bottle of rancid perfume for lotion. It was obvious she had virtually dipped herself into it several times. Her body gave off waves of the stuff much like a car hood does heat.She looked wavy.

She was dressed in a shirt and skirt combo that I can only guess was a‘wanna-be Chico outfit mixed with a slather of American Eagle for the aged’. Her fashion statement was held together with a big black hippo tongue, or maybe it was a belt. The buckle was acrylic. gold-dipped plastic.

Her bright purple nails were a hair longer than her fangs, which had obviously been overwhitened, or maybe she swished with Clorox when she brushed. She must have had on spandex hose with tummy tighteners because her legs looked human, but her navel was popping up through her cleavage. She wore heels. I think. I had never seen shoes quite like that before. They were thick 4”platforms with skinny 3”heels coming out the bottom. They matched her nail color. Her neck and limbs dripped gold. Please don’t make me describe her face. I need to sleep at night.

She stepped out of the vehicle and towered over me. She pulled a megaphone out of the car and began yelling sharp pointed words at me. Wait. That wasn’t a megaphone. I think it was her lipgloss- covered botoxed lips.

She made it clear to me that I was a heinous criminal, foraging and stealing plants from her.
I explained that I had been invited to do so by the landscapers and the store. She wondered why I came at this particular time and day and I told her about the letter letting store owners know when the plant change out was coming. I told her of the call I got telling me they were here now. The woman grew zits as she threw angry words at me. In the midst of my fright and horror, I was somehow comforted to see that she was in some way, human after all.

The woman spoke so hard that the first woman began crying, sobbing, “It wasn’t her, it was me. Me! I tell you. Please, for Gosh sakes, let her go!” The crying woman then looked at me and said, “Run, run as far away as you can and don’t stop running until you can’t run anymore!” She backed up and inserted herself into her car.

The screaming life-crisis continued telling me how stupid I had been to believe the store owner regarding plants outside the store. I broke. I finally cracked in half and broke.
“But I’m a church secretary, for God’s sake! Why would I be digging up plants in the middle of the day for anyone to see if I was stealing them?” Oh, where is a prozac when you really need one? I could have tossed it down her megaphone mouth and we both would have felt a ton better. But, nay. Such luck was nowhere to be found.

She suddenly stopped making noise. The glare was there, but I had side stepped just out of the glare -ray field, so I wasn’t too scorched.

“ Do you want me to return them? I’ll gladly put them back, but they will be taken away anyway.”
“ What have you taken?” she seethed.
“ Well, ferns and these elephant ears.” The question was moot as the fern was sticking out of my side window and the elephant ears were still waving at me from the car. They looked perky and ready for a roadtrip.
“No. Enjoy them.” She said. “And don’t come back”
I opened my car door and whispered to the elephant ears that were hogging the driver’s seat, “scoot over”. I got in and left. The stowaway caladiums in the trunk were cheering as I pulled out. “We’re saved!!! Woo Hoo!!”

It’s funny in a not funny way how in the span of a few seconds one can be convinced they are indeed criminal, evil, vile and bad bad bad. I held that sense all the rest of the day.

I returned to work, shook the dirt out of my hair and threw a sweater on over my now dirty shirt. I rejoined the staff planning, but trembled all afternoon. I kept looking for a SWAT van to pull up. It never happened.

I was in need of comfort, clarity, and I needed reminding that I had followed advice and information as I knew it. I needed to know I was not as bad as I felt and that I could indeed continue to be allowed to live on the planet. Surely, no church would want the likes of an accused plant thief working in their building and for that matter what church would want one of those as a member? My imagination drank in the adrenaline from the unfortunate experience and kept on with the thoughts that I would be asked to move out of my townhouse because my landlord would learn of my mishap, and my children would sharply turn away from me, I would lose all of my framily as well.Why, I was sure my kitties would hiss when I returned home later. I was a mess.

After the meeting, my boss asked how it went and I whispered, "Mother Mary, forgive me, for I have sinned. It's been a while since my last confession."
He looked around the room, then at me, and said, "Wrong religion, what happened?"
I said,"I got in trouble." The word "trouble" drew attention and a few of my co workers came over to hear the story. I had not gotten very far into the tale when the reactions began. Rejection wasn’t in the mix, though. No. It started with sniffs, then lowered heads and finally outright laughter. “When you call me tonight, give me a few minutes to laugh, and then I’ll come bail you out.”

What is wrong with these people, I thought. Where was the shun? ...the rejection, the disappointment in my obvious flaw of character? Were these things hidden in their laughter? It didn’t seem so, and it left me confused.

I called my oldest daughter and she had no reaction at all. She suggested without hesitation that perhaps the old biddy had the misfortune of sitting on something sharp, or maybe she had woken up on the wrong side of the plastic surgery. or maybe she needed to be pinched to bring her back to reality.
Reality. That is what was missing in my thinking.

I had an intense need to rid my car of the “hot” rooted victims. I gave away some of the goodies before I left the building to an assistance person who would have rather had food, but seemed amazingly satisfied with a fern.

I drove by a friend’s house- someone who regularly invites me to dig plants from her yard, and I did a drive-by drop off.

The only plants left were ferns for a friend, and caladiums for church.

I decided that what I needed was a visit with our framily friends who have a luscious 3 ½ year old and a 4 month old. Some kid- time might help me find my way back to steady.
I drove my -now full of dirt car- over and skatted up the front walk to the front door. There was a sign on the door that read, “We love convicts. Herb thieves welcome here”
Funny. Very funny. How did they know?

I entered and was met by my 3 year old friend who hugged me tight. Just what I needed and wanted. Just what I needed to remind me I was good of heart, okay. He hugged hugged hugged me and said in my ear- “ Menandy, I luv u even if you are a fugitive”

He took me by the hand and led me to the kitchen where my oldest daughter was trying to hold her mouth shut with both hands, unsuccessfully. Across the room my little friend's mom was shaking with laughter, unable to look at me for fear she wouldn’t make it to the bathroom in time, and his dad was frantically stirring a pot of empty spaghetti water. Somehow, the laughter among people I have come to trust helped me think more realistically.

After that, I went to a friend’s house and planted the ferns in her yard. It was dark by then, so the sense of sneaky crime had crept back into my head. There I was, hunched over the dirt digging a hole like a murderer digs a hole for his victim. I stopped and said into the dark,"Oh Lordy." I quickly finished putting the illegally adopted ferns to bed, then I went inside and spilled out my story.
No one there seemed to see me as a rotten crook, either. My teen friend was intently typing on her laptop, appearing to be working hard on homework, though i suspect she may have stumbled into her facebook account. She never looked up, but said, " You didn't do anything wrong." It felt like a line on a chinese fortune cookie. I wanted to believe it.
I stayed a while, grabbed some much needed hugs and headed home.

My cats were glad to see me. My landlord had not called or left me a notice. I began to think that maybe, like Alexander, I had just had a few minutes of a no good very bad day. So I went to bed.

It was good while it lasted, and the plants that came home with me last Spring and yesterday, will have chances to live and thrive. I think that’s as good as it gets.

As for the irate woman? I think she just needs a good bite of chocolate, and maybe if she’d unsproing herself from spandex and pointy high heels, she may see things a little differently.
I’m not planning on finding out, though.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh oh oh- consider yourself hugged again. My David alerted me that you had a problem- he reads you regularly also you know. Hope your days will improve and we'll be home next week- with pretzels!!! Loonygin