Where’s The Mustard?

I’m sitting on my front porch. It’s about an hour until dark. It’s one of my favorite times of day to sit out here. The birds are chatting about their struggles with the shelter at home rules. Max is out in the edge of the woods looking up. I don’t think he’s praying. There’s a squirrel taunting him.

I’m not sure what I’m writing about here, I just know that I need to write if I’m going to follow through on my commitment to this thing I do. Which is something I learned from my parents. You start something, you stay with it until you finish it. School. Job. Marriage. Blog. Though no all of these deserve the same respect, they do deserve the effort.

I’m looking for relief anywhere I can find it these days. Used to I could spend a couple hours with the Readers Digest. Even as a kid I loved that little magazine. Real life little stories about some of the crazy things that people say and do that allow us to laugh at ourselves. Real life heroes that don’t wear spandex and capes, but who pull strangers from burning cars.

If the world around me needs anything at all right now it’s a little relief. There hasn’t been much to laugh about lately. The cashier at the Super Value told me today that three workers at the local Post Office were diagnosed with this Corona virus. No laughing matter. I was just in the Post Office yesterday to pick up mail and drop off a few bills.

That’s close enough to home to make a fella wash his hands 14 times a day. But if we all just focus on how awful things are, we all might just go nuts. I’m nuts enough as it is. In an effort to stay sane, I try to take in all the little pieces of life that go on around me so I can so I can remember to see that a few things are still normal. Maybe even worth a chuckle.

A customer calls the other day. Mr. Stanley is probably 88 years old. It’s probably been 10 years since we heard from him last. My buddy answers the phone. And without a hello or how you doing or any introduction of any kind, he says:

“Well, I reckon you’s probably thinking I’d be gone by now, but I ain’t dead yet.”

He’s still working harder than a lot of us half his age, but admitting to us in his own way that he can’t do things like he used to be able to do. We’ll be over at his place in a couple weeks to take down a few trees for him.

Or, Jim. Jim grinds stumps for us on most of our jobs. He works right by himself and has become a good friend over the years. His machine is down, so the other day he hooked up and took off to Marietta to get some work done on his grinder. Jim has never been late to anything in his life, so in typical fashion he drove a hundred miles and got there 45 minutes before the shop opened.

He walked across the way to the convenience store to see if he could find a biscuit and a hot coffee. When he got up to the counter, he asked the clerk for help. He wanted some mustard for his biscuit.

“Where’s your condiments?”

The clerk turned around to the display behind him. “What size you want?”

“What?”

“What size you want? Small, medium, or large?”

Jim was still confused. The guy in line behind Jim spoke up. “He said condiments, not condoms.”

“Look here young man,” Jim said, “I’m 72 years old. I sure as #@%* don’t need one of those. And if I did need one of those I’d just as soon have steak and lobster for supper than use it. Now, where’s the mustard?”

Then there was the chicken truck wreck last week. You heard me talk about the chicken trucks before, but this was one of the refrigerated trucks carrying finish product to the stores. Thank God for these guys and gals who are still out there working getting our food to the stores.

I left for work that morning and there was a State Trooper blocking Hwy 27 at the top of the mountain. I had to go around through the state park. Later that day on the way home I could tell that there had been a wreck right at the old railroad overpass, but didn’t find out what happened until I read about it in this last week’s paper.

It was front page news. The driver was coming down the mountain, maybe rolling a little too fast for the curve under the overpass, clipped the guardrail and plowed into the trees along the east side of the road. The impact caused the trailer walls to split open and raw chicken parts got strewn all over the highway. Crews worked through the night cutting up trees and getting the truck pulled out of there with the wrecker.

The story said, and I’m quoting from memory here, “that while the wrecker got the truck moved in fairly short order, crews spent most of the next day cleaning up hundreds of chicken parts with a skid steer and a dumpster.” A road covered in drum sticks, thighs, breasts, wings, gizzards and livers. Not a pretty site.

While most of us are shut up in this blasted quarantine, you should know that there is still some semblance of normality that is going on out there. Some of it is serious business. Some of it is just everyday stuff. Truckers are still on the road. Old men are getting work done around the yard. Good friends are making trips to get things fixed in order to keep business moving.

I feel so bad for those who have lost their jobs. For those whose business are strained to the point of breaking. For those caregivers who put their lives at risk in hospitals all over this country. I don’t know those heroes, but if I did, I would thank them. I would thank them for their courage. I would thank them for not giving up. I would thank them for keeping their heads up when it would be so easy to bury them in pity and fear.

Though you may not have seen it in a while, the world is still out there. And, there’s a turn in the road up ahead. Pray it gets here soon.

And if you happen to find yourself in a store looking for mustard, don’t ask the clerk for condiments. It might turn out to be not what you want.

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