Monday, February 15, 2010

Another Rookie Delivers Meals On Wheels

This is actually a sequel post to my friend, Steveatrandom’s blog. If you haven’t read that, you may want to read his blog first. He got to deliver meals on wheels a couple weeks ago and last week I decided to take a turn.

Steve was at a bit of a disadvantage as him and his family were doing it for the first time. Though it was going to be my first time as well, I was riding shotgun with Vern, a seasoned veteran whose been delivering meals for over 20 years.

So, I wasn’t worried the least when I met him at Golden Age Services to wait for our edible cargo to be ready. We visited awhile and after a few minutes got the two blue coolers which contained the meals. We loaded up Vern’s SUV. I was to deliver the goods and Vern was driving the getaway vehicle.

I had read Steve’s blog previously so I was aware that one cooler contained the hot items and the other cooler contained the cold items. Each recipient was to get one of each. With 2 pairs of hands the vehicle was soon loaded and we were off. Along with the coolers we got a clipboard with the names and addresses of each customer.

I was very confident that Vern knew where we were going. We probably should have studied the clipboard a little more thoroughly. We had driven several blocks when Vern realized there were some new addresses on his route he hadn’t visited before. We found out we were heading the wrong direction. So we drove the scenic route and finally arrived at our fist stop which to our chagrin was very close to where we started. Ah well…

I jumped out and opened the rear hatch. As this was a husband/wife delivery, I grabbed 2 hot trays and 2 cold sacks. The trays were wrapped in a quilted cozy to help keep them warm. These people are ready for their lunch so the door was opening as I was walking up the steps. The nice lady led me inside and I deposited their meals. “Oh my you’re a young one!” She exclaimed. At 41, I’m approaching the far side of middle aged, so that was very nice to hear. They thanked me profusely and I tried to make my exit. “Wait you need to take these back!” the nice lady informed me. Evidently, the quilted cozies go back to the assisted living center.

I jumped back in the vehicle and Vern commented, “Oh good, I forgot to tell to remember to bring back those warmers.” Lucky me, my first customer was an observant woman.

Next stop was more of the same. “Oh you’re so young!” The next one also commented. “Yes, I’m in training today.” I said. “Well, you’re doing a very good job!” Buoyed by her complements I was on top of the world. Age is definitely in the eye of the beholder. I’m the father of a 5th and an 8th grader who continue to remind me how old and “out of touch” I am. Here these wonderful people getting meals think I’m a spring chicken.

Just about every house we stopped at had the same nice words. “My you’re young!” I was beginning to think I should have still been in school. We pulled up to another house. I walked up the steps and rang the bell. No answer, well, our instructions are to just bring the meals back if that happens. But I happened to look again at the house number and on the cold sack which had the address on a label. This wasn’t the right house.

So I jumped back in and showed Vern we were at the wrong address. He said this is where the guy lived for years and he just read the name and didn’t bother looking at the address. It turns out he recently moved. So we drove on until finding the correct house. As I was walking up the very many narrow steps I thought this must have been the house Steve talked about with all the slippery icy steps where he had to go back down and up twice because he didn’t realize they got both a tray and sack for their meal. But the steps had been liberally salted and we had gotten some sunshine so thankfully the ice was gone. That guys television couldn’t not have gotten any louder. I could hear it from the bottom of the steps outside.

The 2nd to last stop was an old apartment. Vern told me to take a deep breath of fresh air before going in. He wasn’t kidding. The smell was almost unbearable and the place was quite a mess. I managed to choke out “meals on wheels!” as I came in. I asked the woman where she wanted her lunch and she said put it right on the table here. Every surface of the table was piled with 2-3 inches of paper. Lacking any visible space, I took the meal out of the warmer and laid it down on a pile of envelopes and put the sack down next to it. “Thank you very much!” the woman said quite politely. I was happy to breath fresh air when I got back to the vehicle.

The last stop was Lewis & Clark apartments, Steve’s blog will tell you this place has an unpleasant odor about it and it does, but it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the previous stop. These apartments smell like a century of cigarette smoke had been absorbed into every surface. I started coughing as soon as we walked in. Vern wanted to deliver the last two meals also so we both went up the stairs. There were two stops in this building so we delivered the first one and made our way to the last customer. A very sweet woman ushered us in and invited us to help ourselves to a piece of candy. We set her meal down and I grabbed a Snickers bar. She commented on how young I was. Wow! candy and a compliment, what a day! Vern asked her if she had gotten her hug today. She answered, “No!” so Vern gave her a hug and I said, “we’ve got a two-for-one special today.” And I had to hug her as well.

We walked down the steps and stopped at an old horse-drawn buggy that appeared to be in excellent shape. I enjoy looking at stuff like that. It was pretty cool. Vern said, “mission accomplished.” And we drove back and dropped off the now empty coolers and I said goodbye and made my way back to work.

It was fun. A pleasant diversion to an otherwise fairly dull day.


Steve at Random said...

Well, I must look like "Father Time" as no one told me I looked young. And that definitely was the house with the icy steps and the loud TV. Still, I got a chuckle regarding the miscues that you and the veteran Vern had as well. I'm starting to think we didn't do too bad for rookies. At the end, didn't you feel like you'd just donated a pint of blood and felt really good for helping these people out. Just think, we may need that service ourselves someday.

randymeiss said...

It did feel good. It was a very pleasant diversion in my day. I told Vern I'd be happy to ride shotgun again in 2 weeks or that Deanna and I could do it if he wanted a break. The extra hour I had to take for lunch was an extremely small price to pay for the "warm fuzzy" I got helping out.

AZJim said...

What a great way to help out while still having some fun. I was going to say something that being your father I must be younger also but then to respond to Steve's comment, I have even less on top than he has so forget it.