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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nothin' Fancy

Here he came again, with shuffling gait, stooped back, mumbling and grunting as he approached the counter. Life and time had taken a heavy toll. He had his dog along - a little nondescript scraggly thing that seemed to adore its ancient owner. The guy had a cranky streak and a quick wit - a diamond in the rough, for sure.

Working with the public, you expect to encounter all sorts of personalities. The floral business is no exception. This elderly man came in every so often, always grouching about something as he tried to decide what to buy. I already knew some of what he’d say: the flowers cost too much, wouldn’t last long, the person getting them would only kill them anyway. For some reason he always seemed to gravitate toward me, so I braced myself for the onslaught.

This time it was something for his wife’s birthday he sought. I tried to be upbeat, pointing out the beautiful vases full of roses, sure to please anyone. Too much money, he wasn’t made of it, you know. Then how about a cheerful bouquet of mixed flowers, less expensive, but still lovely? No, they would only die in a couple of days. What else did we have?

 I walked him through the shop, pointing out ideas, none of which he liked. Finally, I led him to some basket gardens. These woven baskets of different sizes and prices were packed full of small green and blooming plants. I pointed out the nicest ones. “Well, she’ll probably kill the damn thing anyway.” he informed me, before finally choosing a small, insignificant one. “This will have to do.” I felt relief - at least the decision had finally been made.

He shuffled to the counter again, as I fumbled with the computer to find his name. When I found it listed, there were several names exactly the same. What was his address? “ You found my name, why can’t you find my address, too?” he asked. I knew he had no tolerance at all for modern technology.

Finally, after more cutting remarks, he gave me his address, I brought up his order and began filling in the information for a delivery. “Do you want to include a card?” I asked. Now he became serious and a little more agreeable; he needed a favor. If he gave me a few bills, could I just sort of tape them to the handle of the basket for the old gal’s spending money? That’s really what he wanted her to have, a little extra spending money. Of course, I assured him, trying to picture just how to “artistically” tape a few ones or fives to the basket to make it look nice for his wife.

I should have known, he couldn’t care less how it looked. His tough veneer began to crack, ever so slightly. “I don’t mean to trouble you, but I’d like her to have a little money to get what she wants. I like to surprise her. The ol’ gal has put up with me for a lot of years, you know? She turns 85 tomorrow, and I won’t be around forever.” I nodded silently. “So, a few bills - just tape 'em to the handle, she’ll know who it's from.” He pulled out his wallet and began to neatly stack brand new $100.00 bills on the counter - 10 in all. Some May Basket.

Speechless at the computer, I began to finalize the order. I needed to address the delivery envelope, I explained, even without a card inside. “So, what’s your girlfriend’s name?” I asked. A smile flickered across his lips as he spoke her name. “Just stick ‘em on with a little tape, doesn’t need to be fancy.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19 - 21

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