So the day before Thanksgiving, I held a job with UPS, but it was short-lived. I’d left work with a package in my car that I needed to return to a company via UPS. But we didn’t have any deliveries at the office, so I still had it with me.
Now I didn’t want to keep the box for the next four more days, as the return credit included a window of time and put me too close to the cutoff.
So I saw a UPS truck parked up the road and a coworker called me to let me know she saw it, too. So I pulled over to the side of the road, hopped out of my car, and jogged across the street to the truck.
The driver agreed to take my package from me. Oh, but wait, he had one for me, too.
I grinned. “You have a gift for me?”
He said yes, and then he asked if our office closed early because he also had a box for that address. So he scanned the two items since I told him I’d take the one for our office too, and drop it off.
The other boy riding with him, his helper, carried the big office-delivery box to the backseat of my car. I drove back to the office.
As I looked down at the name on the package inside my office lobby, in case I should text someone—he or she might need the box right away. Well, when I read the label, I noticed the name didn’t match any of our staff.
It’s a rather large box, and it took both hands to lift it, but I hurried back to my car. I jumped into my seat, thinking the UPS driver couldn’t be too far from me.
I turned a corner and saw the brown truck, but then it rushes into the intersection, turning right, heading out of town.
I stopped in a parking lot at the next corner, looking at the address once more—contemplating the idea of making the delivery myself. I’m a mere two minutes from ridding myself of the package.
So that’s when it happened. I became a UPS driver. After all, what if that person expected the box for Thanksgiving? What if the item inside was valuable, and I had it in my back seat?
So I parked in front of the house, carrying the box to the porch, ringing the doorbell. I walked off, but I worried the box might get stolen and I’d be the last who had it with her. So I rushed back to the door.
I waited, ringing the bell again and the door opened and a lady who glanced at my blue car asked, “Are you with UPS?”
To dispel her look of doubt, I shook my head, only to nod, which added more confusion to our mix. “No, it seems I received your box at my office. We have the same three digits, just a different street.”
“Oh, okay.” She looked around, then back at me.
I shared more details. “I had stopped the UPS driver downtown, and he gave me the wrong box. I didn’t read the label until I went back to the office. So here’s your package.”
The lady thanked me, carrying her box inside. That’s when I remembered I had carried my package inside my office earlier and left it on my desk—since I planned to open it.
So you can say my job with UPS lasted for about fifteen minutes. And I can’t even keep up with my own things. Besides, blue isn’t the color for delivery trucks. But if you need packages delivered for Christmas, and want to buy me a new smokey, brown delivery-car—then I’m your gal!
I slowed over the railroad tracks, and the uneven way the asphalt met the rail sent me bouncing in my seat. A man riding a bicycle, wrapped from head to toe in a hooded coat, peddled to a nearby dumpster.
He got off, peering into the green can. And I glanced at him trying to see if I recognized the face—but he wasn't a friend—not yet.
As I stopped at my friend's apartment to drop of a few items for some homeless folks who come by her place, I couldn't stop thinking about the man. So when I left, I made a U-turn on the side street and headed back over the tracks.
I slowed, but the lights from the approaching train sent me down the road. So I drove to a nearby McDonald's and ordered a combo meal with a burger, fries, and a drink. I proceeded to move into the neighborhood again—only to see the man on the bicycle with his small wagon filled with pieces of wire and metal.
He held the bike steady, and I slowed, rolling my window down.
He bent down, and peeked into my car. "I'm out of the way. You have room to get by."
“Wait, I have lunch for you."
“I'm not hungry. I'm good." His fingers wrapped around the handlebars, and he peddled away.
I saw another dumpster up by an old church at the next block, and thought he might make a stop at the can, to see what's inside. So I drove on, parked, and jumped from my seat, placing the meal on the edge of the dumpster. I also put a couple of scripture cards beside the drink and hurried back to my vehicle.
I waited up the road, and the man peddled to the dumpster. He got off his bike, peered my way, and watched me. And I watched him. He reached for the sack, putting it inside his little tow-trailer cart, and took the lid off the soda, taking a gulp. He slipped the scripture cards into his pocket, and grabbed the handlebars, holding his soda with one hand.
He then peddled up to my car, staying about twenty feet away. I pressed the button, opening my window. "Hi, I hope you like cheese on your burger."
He corrected me, "You can't put food out like that, it's wasteful."
I answered, "It's not wasted; I bought it for you."
“Yeah, sure. I saw how you looked at me."
“It was that get-out-of-the-way stare."
“Oh, that's not what I meant to do. That was my 'oh-he-doesn't-know-we're-friends' stare. So, let's start over. I'm Pam."
“Hmm. I'm Mac."
“Mac is a good name."
“It is, but it's not mine. I'm not so sure you need to know my name."
“Well, I'll just rename you and call you Mac."
The man twisted his head, looking for traffic, and resumed his peddling—not saying another word. And I sat there, giving him the behind-the-head prayer, asking the Lord to guide his steps.
A few blocks away, I saw Mac again and he sat on the curb eating his burger and fries. I started to turn left, so he wouldn’t think I followed him, but it was too late; Mac gave me a small wave and a nod.
So it's confirmed. Mac and I are friends. He just didn’t know he was getting me when he peddled out for a ride! And we know, the time we take in making/being a friend is never wasted!
For anyone who needs confirmation that I was stressed and distracted on this one particular day, read on. See, a phone call sent me to fretting a little and praying a lot and my mind was jumping with praying and seeking God, and asking too many questions.
By lunch, I drove to the store and picked up a few groceries and went home with them. Then the following day, I made another quick run to get a few more items for some sick family members.
When my items were inside the cart, the carry out walked out with me. And I watched my trunk open, way out in the middle of the parking lot.
As we peered inside the trunk, the young man asked, “Whoa! What is that in your trunk?”
“Oh, no! That’s apparently, melted buttered pecan ice cream. I forgot to get it out of the car at lunch yesterday!”
“That’s a mess.”
“For sure. Let’s put these things in the back seat.”
“Sure thing. It’s a good thing you have that rubber mat in the trunk. But it’s going to be sticky.”
“So true. But I had good intentions. That was ice cream for my husband.”
“He’s not going to get it now.”
I nodded. “Well, not today!”
When I left, I called my hubby and he met me at home and he took out the messy mat, and scrubbed it clean, more understanding than some spouses might be and kinder than I expected.
So for anyone going to the store with a lot on our mind, I have one piece of advice: don’t trust me with your ice cream!
I parked my car, grabbed some Gatorades, and made sure I had some scripture cards in the back pocket of my jeans, moving to the two men sitting on a tiny spot in the shade. “I know it’s not terribly hot, but I thought you might be thirsty.”
They reached for the Gatorade, taking them from my hands, and then I pulled some verses from my pocket. “Do you mind if I give you these? They’re scriptures to remind us that Jesus said, I am the way, truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The man to my right, who seemed older than me, with his gray, scruffy beard and fitted hat, well, he started crying. His friend asked, “You all right, buddy?”
“I am. These cards took me back.”
The one on my left asked, “Took you back to where?”
“To when I was a boy, wearing my pressed slacks, and my blue or sometimes white shirt. To when I was a boy. Life was so easy then.”
I babbled, “Tell me about your old church. Where did you grow up?”
“I lived up north. You wouldn’t know the town. But the church was special. My folks got married there, I was baptized there, and the last time I went there, it was for ….” His tears dropped like a waterfall.
The other guy, who was taking in the story, asked, “What were you going to say?”
“I was going to say, the last time I stepped foot inside that church was when my son died. His funeral was held there. He was only sixteen. He was killed in a car wreck, and it ruined me. After that, I lost my way, left town, and now it’s been years.”
I prayed for the Lord to help me say words that would help, so I didn’t say anything for a few minutes, letting him process the old memory. Then I offered to pray for them, and the three of us prayed for clarity, for healing, and for this dad-heart to find peace and comfort from the Lord.
When I opened my eyes, I reached with a side-neck-grab and squeeze-love-hug and nearly knocked the guy from the wall after losing my balance. “Whoa! Sorry about that.”
My friend looked at me. “Not to worry. That was a great hug. I needed one.” He stood, sharing more of his story. “The last hug my son gave me was a couple weeks before his wreck. Your hug felt like his hug.”
“So that was a good hug?”
“Yes, very much so.” As I gathered myself, thanking God for letting me stumble a bit during the release of my hug, I looked at the man to my left. “I suppose you need a hug too.”
He promptly said, “Yes, I do, especially after you came over here and made two grown men cry.”
I smiled, grabbing for his neck too. “I didn’t mean to make you cry, but I do want you both to know the Lord guides your steps—even to this very spot—so you might find Him.”
As I think about my friends, I’m reminded how we all experience loss yet, the situation sometimes sends people on a journey where they run away from God. Where they blame Him. As they try to escape the sorrow.
If you can identify with these men, I hope you run to the Savior during your loss and sorrow. If sickness invades or if your plans go awry, or if you’ve taken a long walk to a place in the shade, may the love of our awesome God give you the wisdom to fight for your life in Him.
May your strength be found in Jesus, and your joy return as you remember that God’s mercies are new each day! And so, please, accept a hug from our Savior. And, of course, consider the redemption for sin, He offers.
This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).